My wife and I paid off our house in late 2017.
We called the bank and informed them of our intent to pay off the mortgage in full. They responded that they needed a specific amount by 5pm. We told them to look in the one account we had at their bank — we had already moved the money into that account. They transferred the money from that account to our mortgage account, hence paying it off.
We drove to the branch where we first got the mortgage 18 months prior and brought some cupcakes and coffee. We treated the staff because we were celebrating having just paid off the house and being 100% debt free.
Our loan officer was surprised and said, “I knew you guys wanted to pay off the mortgage early but I never expected this early.” Our original plan was 4–7 years. Finance guru Dave Ramsey says most people following his plan pay off their house in seven years, and most millionaires pay off their house in 10 years. We were lucky to come upon an investment that took off. We were able to sell it and pay off the house. This resulted in a huge nearly $70,000 tax bill.
Dave Ramsey says once you pay off your house, go outside and walk through the grass barefoot. It will feel different. We didn’t take his advice because it was nearly winter and snow was on the ground. Instead, my wife and I continued our celebration by going to a local restaurant to enjoy a nice meal. Emotionally, we didn’t feel different at all; it was like nothing really happened.
The following month we noticed an extra $1,600 in the bank account that we moved into a separate account to save and invest for the future. That same month we received a letter from the bank that our mortgage was paid and we received communication from the county that our deed to our house was now clear.
It took three months from the time we paid off the house to have an emotional change. Perhaps this is because it was now March, the snow had melted, and we could actually go outside and feel the grass under our bare feet.
I’m not sure, but what happened is that my wife and I realized that we don’t need to keep on going to the same job every day. We were no longer beholden to our job with a good salary so that we can afford the mortgage payment every month.
Setting new goals
This realization gave us more flexibility with our life choices and our careers. We also realized that we have been working so hard on financial goals to get out of student loan debt, save up for an emergency fund, save up for a down payment, pay off the house, etc., that we no longer had a future goal other than to save for retirement. We realized we needed another short term goal. We both decided to buy more real estate in cash and needed to start saving up for it.
Then April came along, and we needed to pay our first half-payment of our property taxes. Then in May we needed to pay the full year of our home insurance. In October we paid the other half of our real estate taxes.
The following spring, we made another tax payment. We flew to the area where we wanted to make our next real estate investment, and paid cash for it in May. We also identified additional real estate in the same area and started saving up for that as well. We are planning on going back next year and paying cash for more property. We plan to continue doing this while we can.
So what happens when you finish paying off your house? You get the freedom to make choices in your career that you might not have otherwise made. You get to make investments and grow your wealth. I recommend everyone pay off their mortgage and get on the path to wealth building. It is really the only way.
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