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How I Paid Off My $54,500 Mortgage In Less Than One Year

The bank no longer has a grip on me – I am 100% debt free.

No credit card debt, no student loan debt, no house debt – they are all paid off in full.

How did I get here? Through careful planning…and then through a whirlwind of hard work and sleepless nights when those careful plans went to crap. It still feels a bit surreal, but as of December 11th, 2014, I am completely debt free (and I intend to stay that way for life).

How I Paid Off My Mortgage – The Crazy Idea Comes Into Fruition

It was about one year after my wife left me. She had demanded $22,000 and I was miraculously able to come up with all of the money in just six months. Sure, I was frugal before and enjoyed saving money, but I had no idea that it was possible for me to acquire such a large sum of money in such a short period of time!

This emotionally draining experience lead me to a bright and exciting idea – “If I can come up with $22,000 in six months, I wonder if I could pay off my $54,500 mortgage in less than a year’s time!”

And the bug was planted. In December of 2013, I decided to tackle my last debt head on. My mortgage would be dead by December 2014.

How I Paid Off My Mortgage – The Plan of Attack

My mortgage total was $54,562.20 and I needed a plan to pay it off in one single year. Here is what I came up with:

  • I had some tuition reimbursements coming my way from my employer – about $7,000 worth
  • Monthly website earnings of $1,000 (after tax), which would total $12,000 for the year
  • Disposable income of $1,000 a month from my day job – for another $12,000 a year
  • New website earnings of $200 a month, totaling $2,400 (I never made a dime from this venture by the way – oops)
  • Two extra bi-weekly payments from work (3 paycheck months) – $3,000
  • Regular mortgage payments would take $350 off the principle each month – totaling $4,200
  • I could dip into my savings for another $7,562.20 and still live on what was left

So here was my plan all added up:

mortgage payoff plan calc








Even after all of my careful planning, I still came up $6,400 short! And I had absolutely no idea how I was going to make up the difference. So all in all, this was an okay plan. It would get me close at least. I just had to figure out how to make up the difference.

How I Paid Off My Mortgage – How It Actually Happened

Here’s the month by month breakdown of how the mortgage actually got paid off:


Mortgage payoff graph December 2014


In January and February I already broke away from my initial plans of paying down the mortgage. Instead, I decided to beef up my emergency fund to $15,000 just in case I had a catastrophic occurrence (like losing my job or something). Oh, and I found an amazing deal on a 2008 Chevy Malibu, so I decided to buy it, drive it, and then hopefully sell it for a profit when I got tired of it.

The blessed windfall came in March. First, I discovered that I paid in way to much for taxes for my business earnings and was set to get $4,700 back. Then, with all of the snow we had, water leaked into my house from off the roof, so my insurance company cut me a check for $2,850 (I still haven’t repaired my ceiling with this money – soon though). And finally, I was able to sell the Malibu for $6,000, which netted me a $650 profit. All in all, I was able to beef up my savings account to $15,000 and pay $10,000 off of the mortgage loan. The debt payoff train was finally starting to get some traction.

In April I really decided to cut back on my expenses. I called the phone company and got my monthly bill reduced, I stopped paying the bank to take care of my escrow for me (which they always messed up anyway), I shopped smarter for groceries, and I switched insurance companies to get a better rate. With all of these savings, I was able to take another $3,500 off my mortgage.

In May, my plans were crushed. Google thought I was doing something suspicious and penalized my site. My web income came to a halt. Without this income I would never be able to achieve my goal of paying off the house, so I decided to start writing for other sites. I reached out to all of my blogger friends and asked them if they would like me to write articles for them. The response was overwhelming. In the four months following, I wrote over 200 articles for a total of $2,500 or so. This didn’t make up for all of my lost income, but it did still give me a chance to pay off the mortgage. By August I had the mortgage down to $26,656. Continuing my scrimping and saving wouldn’t quite get me to my goal – I needed something else – perhaps another car to flip.

In September, I found my next money-maker – a 2001 GMC Sierra. The whole purchase was a little sketchy, but in the end I cleared $1,350 when I sold it in November. I was suddenly back on track and had a great chance of paying off my mortgage by the end of the year.

By December I had $14,799 left to pay and I had about $15,300 in my bank account. With one more paycheck I vowed to make that final payment. This happened on December 11th, 2014. My bank account rose to over $17,000 and I headed straight to the bank. With interest, my final payment was for $14,814.62. The money was transferred from my savings and presto! I was now mortgage free! And what a sweet feeling it is!

final payment sheet

You Can Do It Too

I have had so many emails and comments from my readers saying that I have inspired them to get their money in order and pay off their debts. These emails always make me smile! By making this final mortgage payment I hope that this challenges you to do even more! Save more, earn more, become more determined. At the end of it all, you will be glad that you worked as hard as you did to take care of your debts. I know that I have no regrets! My mortgage has been slain and I couldn’t be happier!

Are you ready to pay off your debts? Perhaps even pay off your mortgage? If I can do it, so can you!

Money Mortgage Payoff

AUTHOR Derek Sall

Derek has a Bachelor's degree in Finance and a Master's in Business. As a finance manager in the corporate world, he regularly identified and solved problems at the C-suite level. Today, Derek isn't interested in helping big companies. Instead, he's helping individuals win financially--one email, one article, one person at a time.


  1. Oh, congratulations to you!! Marvelous marvelous marvelous! I’ve had that feeling, its like breathing new air!

    Enjoy your newfound debtlessness 🙂

    Have you gotten google to see the error of their ways and resolved that, I hope?!

    • Thanks Nancy! Congrats to you for having this feeling as well!

  2. Congratulations Derek! Such a joy to follow your journey. We are right behind you. Thanks for your insight. Enjoy the Freedom, You did it!!!

    • Thanks Lori. Best of luck to you! Let me know when you get yours paid off too!

  3. Congratulations Derek! You did it! You ARE an inspiration to all of us, debt free or not. Congrats again!!!!!

    • Thanks Bobbi. I’m so glad that my story can help you and others.

  4. Derek,
    Mega-congrats to you! That is just awesome!

    • Thanks Jim! It’s been fun keeping in touch with you along the way. 🙂

  5. Great job Derek! This should be an inspiration to all!

    I’ve just sent in the payment that will put me at the 5 digit mortgage total and while not able to pay it off as quickly as you, I have an 8 year plan to have my mortgage paid and then rent it out when I buy my next house.

    • The important thing is you have a goal with a time frame! With just that alone you are ahead of many! Nice work!

  6. This is awesome! Congrats on accomplishing your goal. This upcoming year my wife and I are working on a 2 year plan to pay off all our student debt (She’s still in school). This definitely shows us that it can be done. Good luck finding that first investment property.

    • Thanks Joshua. I will definitely have to touch base with you before my first real estate purchase. Best of luck on the student loans! Those are quite satisfying to get rid of as well!

  7. Congratulations, well done! That’s amazing and you are an inspiration to all!

    • Thanks Sherry! Thanks for following my journey!

  8. Congratulations! You did it!
    We have about the same amount of mortgage debt that you started with last December, but we have 2 kids in college we are trying to put through so THEY won’t have any school debt (we saved for this). And we need an additional car. And we have some traveling this spring. And, and, and….there is always something. We hope to have it paid off in 6.8 years which will be a few years before retirement! Our payments are very low (we can’t rent a 2BR apt for the same amount) and the interest rate is great. But, I guess the moral to my story is I am glad you achieved this goal now before more of life “gets in the way”. 😉

    • Thanks for the compliments D.L.! I’m glad you’ve got a plan to get that house paid off before retirement. Debt freedom sure is sweet. I can’t wait for you to enjoy it with me!

  9. Whoop! Whoop!

    I’ve been following the whole journey, and am SO happy and thrilled for you!!!

    • Good to hear from you Amanda. It sure is a relief, and it’s fun to hear from all of my readers! So what should the next goal be?

  10. Congratulations! I can’t wait to be mortgage free! We’re still a few years out, but we can see the end in sight!

    • If you have the end in sight then you are far ahead of most of the world! Keep pressing forward and you’ll get it done!

  11. I have been a long time follower of your blog and this is just amazing. Your story (and blog content) motivates me and many others. Keep up the great work!

    • Thanks Darshan! I can’t wait to reveal what’s next for me. Hopefully that will be just as inspirational if not more!

  12. Congrats on becoming debt-free! Your story is a great inspiration. I think speeding up our mortgage repayment will be one of the things we start working on next.

    • Thanks so much Gary! If your mortgage is your final debt to pay off, then by all means speed it up! If you want some ideas, don’t be afraid to respond to this comment or send me an email through my ‘Contact’ tab at the top of this page.

  13. Congratulations! It must feel great to reach such an ambitious goal.

    • It sure does! It actually still feels a bit surreal. Maybe once I get some documents in the mail it will hit me. Thanks for the congrats!

  14. Congratulations! Welcome to debt freedom. Build your real estate portfolio with cash and you are on your way to a great retirement.

    • Thanks James! You are absolutely right! Now that I’ve paid off my house it’s time to invest in real estate with cash! 🙂

  15. Great job!!! Truly inspirational to show others that no matter the goal, it can be achieved with some outside the box thinking. Can’t wait to read about the goals for the “extra” money you now have every month.

    • Thanks for the props, Jon! Solid goals tend to prompt some outside-of-the-box thinking. 😉 I’ll definitely keep everyone posted on the future goals to come.

  16. A big congratulations on clearing your mortgage debt out from underneath you. A completely paid for house is one of the most satisfying, freeing feelings that you can have in this country where home ownership isn’t just common, but expected.

    Well done, good sir!

    • Thanks Steve! It certainly is freeing, and I can’t wait to get the documents in the mail that prove that the house is 100% mine! 😉

  17. That is great news! Congrats on becoming debt free. It was a really fun story to follow and I can’t wait to see what’s up next.

    • Thanks Kim! I’m glad you have been following this story along the way, and I’m also glad that I could hit my big hairy audacious goal! Stay tuned for what’s next. 🙂

  18. WOO HOO!!

    I am excited for you!

    Wow, so go look at yourself in the mirror and, smile really big! That smile is a way for you to see yourself,
    thanking yourself, for working so very hard! Celebrate your success. 🙂

    • Thanks Joy! It is pretty exciting – that whole smiling in the mirror thing sounds a little weird, but I probably will record a video once I get the deed in the mail. 🙂

      • LOL! It might seem weird but we humans are programmed to smile when others smile at us. This smiling at each
        other brings a bit of joy to the everyday. Now, funny but our brains will still get joy from seeing ourselves smile.
        You have to try it! 🙂 You did this hard work for your future self. Now, go smile at that future self and, watch him smile
        back at you! 😉

        • Haha, ok Joy, you just got your wish. I literally just set my computer down, walked to the bathroom, smiled into the mirror and said, “You did it buddy!” And yes, you were right, as weird as it was, it felt good. Thanks! 🙂

          • :)))

  19. Derek,
    I just gotta say one more thing re: your having paid off your mortgage (i.e. in addition to the fact that that is freaking awesome)You know my wife took a $47K loan against her 401 acct to pay our mortgage off and then (of course) the market sky-rocketed – ha! In spite of all of that, she is one happy camper. The market goes up, the market goes down – she doesn’t care – not one whit. Whenever I comment on it she just does a little, happy dance and “sings” our house if paid for! I finally asked her if she knew how much $ we could have made by keeping that $47K in the market and she responds with, “we also could have lost it all”. I’m not sure I get why she’s “oh, so very happy” about this, but she is and therefore, so am I. There’s just something about not owing anyone anything that causes a very deep, guttural satisfaction. Good for you! I am so proud of you! Congrats again. That really is an amazing feat.

    • Haha, I love the happy dance! I haven’t quite done that yet, but I’m not that much of an extrovert (and I’m a terrible dancer). Thanks again for all of the compliments, Jim. I can’t wait to share what the future brings for me. I am still developing an exact plan for my next big goal, but I should be able to get a handle on that soon. 🙂

  20. Derek,
    Hubby just shared your response with me (and yes, I AM still doing a happy dance). Congrats from me too! Can’t wait to see what your next big goal is. Whatever it is, I may just “dance” right on into that too. You’ve done an incredibly, great job and we are (well, I am) doing a happy dance for you too. You don’t have to be an extrovert or a great dancer to do a happy dance -just DANCE! YOU deserve it. Smiles are great, but dances are even better! Go dance, dance, dance, dance, DANCE!!! Congrats! I hope you are VERY PROUD of yourself. Yay for YOU!!!!!

    • Thanks Mrs. Jim! That would be awesome if I had a few others blazing the trail of debt-freedom with me. I am pretty certain I will be delving into real estate, but in order to do that with cash I will need to be patient and build my savings back up again.

  21. Derek! I have been waiting for this moment… YOU Finally paid your house off! CONGRATULATIONS. Just so you know i have been following your blog for an inspiration, My husband an I are in the the process of paying our house off, we have about 52000.00 and our goal is to pay it off in less than 24 months, we are thinking about starting a blog like this to keep us accountable and also to inspire family and friends and people out there ( still deciding on that) But I sure Thank you for allowing us to read on to your blog and keeping it real. I can’t wait for your next adventure. Keeping it coming;) thank you and Good luck.

    • Yes! I love comments like this! Thank you! I think starting a blog is a fabulous idea. It really does keep you accountable. Be careful who you share the blog with though, because after you pay if off you will hear comments like, “well you should be able to buy such and such…” or “Mr./Mrs. Moneybags over there can probably buy it”. I have experienced this from a few people who seem slighted by the fact that I can get ahead financially and they can’t. If I had to do it all over again though, I would still definitely pay off the house.

      I can’t wait to share my new investment ventures with you though. Stay tuned! 🙂

  22. That is so true Derek, Your comment regarding some people will talk you out on not paying your house or they think we are crazy! or the thought of after paying our house and being so close to getting there is killing them, all we want is to inspire them not to boast about it;) they just don’t get it! Either way we are going to kill this mortgage.

    • I KNOW you will kill that mortgage Rachell. Be sure to let me know when you do!

  23. This is awesome Derek! Congrats!

    Our mortgage is considerably larger but we did manage to pay off close to $50,000 in 2014. Hoping to do likewise next year.

    • Thanks SPF! Awesome job to you too! Paying down $50,000 of your mortgage in one year is impressive!

  24. belated congrats! keep inspiring me and others on your future goals and articles!

    by the way, my car project (entry lux sedan) is on sale already and have a potential buyer soon, hope this is another 1 buyer = sold that i have done a few times. im already looking for the next project!

    • Great to hear about your potentially successful flip! Sounds like you have some skills too! And, thanks so much for the congrats. It’s still awesome to think about even a full month later. 🙂

  25. Gives me chills for sure. : )

    • Can’t wait to hear your story once all your debt is gone!

  26. You have inspired me for sure.Congz Derek

    • Glad you liked the article and are using it to fuel your own goals and dreams!

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