Yesterday our family spent three hours building this:
Now I think this is a pretty amazing creation we made together, but to be perfectly honest, I don’t really like having it featured so prominently in my otherwise minimally-decorated dining room.
But I’m going to have to live with it for a while – roughly 3.5 years according to our current financial forecast. And having it right in front of my face every day was exactly my plan when we sat down to construct it yesterday.
The idea for this Lego masterpiece came from a post at thegracebook. Theirs was a “debt tower” symbolizing student loans and credit card debt as well as a mortgage, while ours only represents our mortgage – each brick/doodad represents $100 of the principal owed on our house loan. So I’m calling it the mortgage monster. Every time we pay off $100 of our mortgage, we remove a brick, until the monster is completely gone.
We paid off a previous mortgage and bought a house for cash back in what feels like another life, in another town, before the housing crash, when our kids were very small. That lower cost of living allowed us to work less than full-time and be home more often with our kids, all four of us together, during those preschool years.
Then we had a big dream to move to Colorado, found work here, rented a house for a year, and then bought a house in 2014. Here the housing market is booming, while housing prices back in Minnesota where we sold our house still hadn’t recovered, so we took a big loss and basically ended up back where we started before we achieved mortgage freedom.
Which, we gratefully acknowledge, is where many people wish they could be – our only debt being our mortgage. But having lived without a mortgage once, I know how freeing it is and am eager to get there again. As much as I love reading early retirement blogs like Mr. Money Mustache and Frugalwoods, our own age/stage in life and earning potential doesn’t put us in a position to anticipate considerably-early retirement (maybe we could fully retire by age 55 or 60), but as soon as we are mortgage-free, we are free to go back to the “semi-retired” life we lived while the kids were small.
Which, just as we experienced the first mortgage-free time around, gives us more freedom to work and play together as a family, commit to some bigger things in our community, try new pursuits, work on interesting projects . . .
All of which we are doing in smaller measure right now even as we live a much more typical American family lifestyle (weekdays, each of us heads off in a different direction between jobs and school) – because while long-term dreams are vital, the present moment is all we are given, and we may as well make the very best of life right this minute!
While I wouldn’t have wished to be working towards paying off a mortgage a second time, I’m finding that this time around is a great opportunity for our kids to be involved in the process. They were babies the first time we paid off our mortgage. Now, we are engaged as a family, and this is some valuable real-life education!