Seventeen years ago this month, my then- husband and I bought a little 1950s weatherboard in a quiet suburb in Melbourne’s South East. We had 4 sons: a nearly 5 year old about to start school the next year; a 3 and a 2 year old and the baby of 3 weeks.
This house had one lounge, one bathroom, one toilet but 4 bedrooms. We figured that as time went on we could extend. The mortgage was 96K.
A year later we divorced and I had to buy him out. The court set the figure at 18K so I went to the CW to refinance. The bank knocked me back. I went home and cried for three days. Then I got mad.
I rang Dad, asked him to come over and look after the kids. Then I dressed in what little ‘office’ attire I had left and marched into the offices of the CW bank down the road. I was very clear about my future prospects, my unblemished banking record and the fact that though I was a single mother with 4 children, that didn’t automatically mean that I was a no-hope loser.
The mortgage rose to 115K.
The next few years were very hand to mouth, as I was a single SAHM till the last son started primary school. Once that happened I started teaching again, first as a CRT and then I got a 9 month full time teaching contract at my local high school, the same year that my oldest started there in year 7. This school was the reason I’d chosen the area way back when we bought.
I had security for 9 months with this contract. Our car was falling to bits so I bought a three year old Ford station Wagon.. The mortgage went up another 15k. I vowed to have the mortgage down below pre- car levels by the time the contract ran out. I did.
I kept getting contract after contract at the school. Meanwhile, I cleverly fixed the mortgage for 5 years, only then to see interest rates plummet. D’OH! Still, I consoled myself with the fact that at least I knew how much my payments were, and if it wasn’t for the Commonwealth, I wouldn’t even HAVE a mortgage. I kept on.
When the school offered me a permanent position, I knew that now we were safe. I took the boys on a holiday to Bali, ( then Thailand the next year because we had so much fun) and I started renovating. I was going to pay off the house first and then save for a new bathroom and kitchen- but then I thought it’d be better to get it done while they were all still living with me and we could all get the benefit.
So the mortgage rose to $199,995.
There’s no way I was going over the 200K level.
And a fence:
Since then I was chipping away at it, enjoying each time it fell another 10K’s worth. At first it was slow, but then momentum started to build up. I chose not to do a lot of things on my way towards freedom, but one choice made a huge difference.
I went to a Thermomix demonstration and I bought one. Three weeks later I became a consultant. From memory, my mortgage was hovering around the 100- 90K Mark. Not sure of the exact figure. This was 2 years ago, just before Christmas.
For 2012 I worked full time as a teacher and did this on the side. I earned a free trip to Hong Kong which I was rapt about. Travel was one of the sacrifices I’d chosen to make to get rid of the mortgage.
Last year I swapped my mortgage to UBank. At the time it was 77K. The lower interest rate made a HUGE difference. The principal started melting away before my eyes. I redoubled my efforts and started hurling every dollar I could at it.
My house has a leaky spot in the guttering. It needs painting. My curtains are so dated it’s embarrassing. It needs awnings out the front. But I kept patting her, ( my house is female. She doesn’t have a name), saying, “Don’t worry, hold it together. Let me pay you off, save for Europe in 2015 and then I’ll look after you.”
In 2013 I invested more time in Thermomix, going part-time with teaching by dropping a day and 17K in wages to take on a Group Leader position. I was scared to drop my wage, but if I wanted the job in Thermomix I had to attend fortnightly meetings on Friday mornings. I gave it a go, thinking that if I was able to double what I was losing, then I’d be happy.
I did that. I also earned another free trip, this time to Sun City in South Africa.
Yesterday I was lying in bed, browsing the www on my iPad. I looked at my UBank statement. Couldn’t help but notice that my savings were $10 more than my mortgage. Mortgage was $12, 330.
It was more than flesh and blood could stand. I paid it all across. I have no emergency fund, no holiday savings, no nothing.
But I have my freedom. It took 17 years.