Paying off $359K in 15 years or less.

It has begun. The great adventure of paying off two mortgages. I’ve been recently inspired by the book Evicted and many clips from news reals during the recession of 2008. Nothing like reality to spurn a plan.

We are debt free outside the mortgages and, here in California, our mortgages are small, especial with this crazy and unsustainable housing market. However, they are still high. Our rental property is $122K and the house we are in now is $237K.

I, and I say I because I’m the accountant and financial fund holder and distributor in this house. Often, have I offered to pass the torch, but my husband has decided that it is my responsibility and he expected me to do my job well. I failed many years. I paid all our expenses and we were well fed, but I look back and realize how much money I could have saved us. It has been a long road rife with lessons in loss of money through lack of careful thought and planning. When there was extra money I spent it on extra groceries, things for the house, thrift store shopping, filling my library with Depression Era and homemaking books. I justified it because it wasn’t being spent at the local casino. Not that I’d have a clue how to gamble or win a hand at cards.

I could wallow in my poor accounting. Instead I look back at my budgeting for our little business, and that is what running a home is like, running a business, and I see my mistakes and weaknesses (books, thrift stores, and Amazon).

Running a household is similar to running a full service Inn. You have the kitchen and pantry to maintain, stock, and keep productive. The Inn needs to be kept clean and tidy. Everything must be organized, linens and clothing mended, free of stains and washed. And then there is the budget. It must be streamlined to run the Inn well, do some improvements, have funds for emergencies and repairs, and show a profit.

Our budget is a combination of Bali’s salary from working part time at a gas station and part time at a corner market. I contribute financially with a small YouTube channel and my book royalties. I’m no famous author and starting the channel over, but if we pool our funds together we can cover all the essentials and save money on the side.

I have been punching in numbers on Dave Ramsey’s mortgage calculator:

I figured out the amount we would need to pay on both mortgages to pay the houses off in fifteen years. The mortgage is very low for the rental property and the rent is very reasonable ensuring the good tenants we have now can afford to stay for years to come if they like. We will not raise the rent. If they take care of things, we want them to stay and prosper. The small profit we do make will be enough to add to the mortgage and get it paid off.

Our mortgage will require we gather several hundred extra a month. It is doable, however, our savings will suffer. It’s so important to have a savings for future possible hardships such as an injury or job loss.

I’ve been watching videos on cooking for pennies and was guided to Under The Median on YouTube. They are a couple that live extremely frugal and show how they do it. Their mortgage is paid off and they have lived on one small but decent income and raised 4 boys. Here is the link:

I’ve been watching old Brother Green Eats videos when Josh (I think that is his name) would do videos on “what you can eat for a coffee a day” or “what you can eat for the price of a Dominoes pizza”. These are eye openers and inspiring.

This is my favorite of his, the What You Can Cook For the Price Of A Coffee A Day:

And this one, you will be very inspired. I got so many ideas for shopping off this video How To Make 1 Month of Food Stamps Last 2 Months:

I’ve also made a video myself on a crash coarse in learning the frugal lifestyle through books that teach and inspire:

I have to immerse myself in this way of thinking and adjust our life daily. We have stripped the budget down to essentials with the exception of monthly donations. All I can do now is reduce the grocery bill, the gas we use in the car, the utilities we have some control over such as gas for heating and baking, and the water. We have solar, garbage is what it is.

We rarely drive. The weather has been lovely so we walk everywhere. The last few days we have walked downtown to purchase some baking supplies I forgot to stock up on and a cabbage for last nights chow mien. We love having reasons to walk around our town. A tank of gas will last us a month or more, I haven’t tested it yet, only assuming. Bali does commute four days a week but he takes the small car that gets fantastic gas mileage.

The grocery budget has been reduced to $300. A far cry from before. I don’t even want to know how much we used to spend. The only way to control it is by having a cash envelope that you fill up in the beginning of the month and stick with it. Once you use the money, you have to wait for the next month. It’s the same if you were on food stamps. You limit your freedom. You only do the big shopping once a month and then divide the remaining money up for the next three weeks for fresh produce or milk.

I have a pantry stocking video coming out December 9th and another video showing how I stocked up from WinCo for $450 on December 10th. We were only finishing up the stocking up. I don’t know how much it cost to completely stock our pantries. This includes food, pet food, medicines, first aid, vitamins, cleaning supplies, and toiletries. We’ve been doing it over time since the first shelter in, but I can guesstimate that it was around $2000 or less for a full stock up.

And with a full pantry and toiletries, it is very easy to stay under the grocery budget.

I’ve asked Bali if his boss would be willing to give him a tank of gas each week to help with commuting cost. Bali has not received a raise in ages and probably won’t for some time as the gas station has a new owner and has seen some hardship with shut downs and construction across the street that has literally shut down the streets to the station for weeks at a time. Things are picking up but to ask a boss for a raise when times are rough is not wise or fair. But some free gas is a great compromise. That will save us $150 plus a months that can go into savings.

I’ve lowered the internet and phones as low as we can go. We need both for work and life. Donations stay.

We started out December with a bang. I’ve already started making the new mortgage payments, have my grocery envelope, watching my inspiring videos to find new ideas or refresh old habits.

And many ask, “do you ever feel deprived?” The last two years we have lived on a shoe string budget and I will share that soon. What I learned was this: when you have a goal you will happily give up a lot of things. You can live on so much less than you think you can. You have to pay yourself first and force yourself to get hardcore. The more progress you make and the faster you see big changes, the more likely you will stay motivated.

And so it begins.


  1. We bought land (3.5 acres) and had a custom-built modular home erected (hubby GCd it). All without borrowing any more money. There are many new innovative housing options available to us now. Never give up the quest. 🙂


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