The Hardest Things We Gave Up To Pay Off Our $320,000 Mortgage in 6 Years

Written by: Alexis Schroeder

Publish Date: January 22, 2023

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Today’s post is by Andrew who blogs over at Family Money Plan

So when you read about those crazy families that get ridiculously obsessed with getting out of debt… (*sheepishly raises hand*) yeah that’s what we did.

We paid off our mortgage in 6 years.

For the full list of everything we gave up to become mortgage free, you can check out this post here.

Dining out

When it comes to saving money, eating out on a regular basis is a huge drain on your finances.

It’s also incredibly hard to give up.

We forced ourselves to learn how to make better meals.

We learned to cook and find ways to replicate our all time favs.

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Pasta like the Olive Garden? Found a way to do that too… with some mistakes along the way.

If there was a way to find out how to make something like a restaurant we looked into it.

It was hard but the savings were immense.


This was by far the hardest one for our family.

The first thing my wife and I connected over when we met was travel.

We had both seen a lot of countries before we met, and since then we have seen quite a few more.

But we decided to give it up temporarily.

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Still, that only gets you so far.

Now that we paid off our mortgage we took them to Disney…. somehow Grand Forks has lost a lot of it’s magic because of that.

Cell Phones

Ok, technically this one we didn’t give up because we hadn’t gotten into it but it was still hard to go without.

My wife and I split a flip phone on a $19.99 monthly plan.

A flip phone, and we couldn’t text. That was an extra $10 a month and we weren’t ready to do that.

Now that we have our smartphones I don’t know if we could go back.


We didn’t even consider buying a new car until we knew our house was on track to be paid off.

Yes, they are old, but a repair bill of $500 every few months was better than a car payment of $500 every month for the next 5 years.

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Look everyone is different, but when people call you to go out and you keep saying: “No”. At some point, they stop calling.

I’m sure we were looked upon as boring, cheap, or something else. (I mean I’ve always been boring but… wait why am I sharing this…)

It doesn’t matter, if your friends are only your friends because you go out and spend money, they aren’t your true friends.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. *cough* not boring *cough*


I LOVE, absolutely LOVE, going to the movies.

I mean if you call me up right now and say: “Wanna catch a movie?” I’m in!

We used to go every Friday night.

For the first few years of our mortgage smackdown, I can count on one hand the number of movies I saw in the theatre.

Honestly, out of all the things we gave up, this felt harder than I thought it would.

Cream and Sugar

When you are making your coffee at home, you start to get a little heavy handed with the free pours of cream and scoops of sugar.

I decided to switch my double-double coffee habit to a traditional black coffee.

When you have been drinking coffee for years because you like the sweet sugar and velvety cream in it, switching to black is awful. 

It’s like going from eating Kit Kats to carrots. Sure it’s good for you, and you know it, but it takes a loooooong time to get used to it.

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Do you know what’s worse than trying to pay off your mortgage without sugar in your coffee?

Trying to do it without a drink.

Just kidding. But for the first few years of paying off our mortgage, I didn’t drink.

It wasn’t hard to give up drinking, to this day I can take or leave it. But as a social thing, it’s incredibly hard.

If you have ever quit drinking, you will get questions.

Every time you go out, without fail, someone will ask you why you aren’t drinking.

Concerts and Sporting Events

I’m probably going to kick myself as there were a few concerts I wanted to go to and passed on.

I love going to concerts and sporting events, but they are more enjoyable now that we are debt free.

Was the sacrifice worth it?


Retail Coffee

For me buying coffee out is that little treat I used to give myself every day.

That stopped.

Hello, homemade coffee.

Not the same but it saved us a couple of hundred bucks a month.

Video Games

Before kids, I would spend most nights playing video games

. I’m not a hardcore gamer by any means but I do love to play a few specific games, like NHL and anything Star Wars related (I’m a nerd. I know it, you know it, let’s move on).

This meant forgoing any new gaming systems.


Before kids and the new house, it was commonplace to order pizza when we didn’t feel for cooking.

Ordering in pizza can get pretty costly.

Even if you spend an extra $20 every Friday that makes out to be over $1000 a year.

But who wants to live a life without pizza? Not me.

I learned how to make pizza. Now a few homemade pizzas may cost you upwards of $5.

But ordering in that can go as high as $20 or $30 depending on where you get it from.

My Body…err I Mean Landscaping

Part of this whole mortgage free endeavor started when I was planting trees in our yard in order to save money.

Since then I have spent many weekends shoveling and hauling stone in a wheelbarrow and doing a bunch of manual labor in the name of saving money.

Do you want to know a terrible feeling?

Order 10 yards of rock in a semi-trailer. Watch it get dumped in your yard.

Then look at your wheelbarrow and tiny shovel and think, “yep, there goes the summer”.

My body has paid the price.

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There you have it.

Yes, I’m crazy, but I’m also debt free, and while you don’t have to be one to do the other.

It’s a lot more fun if you are.

Honestly, debt can be a huge weight in your life and you don’t have to do what I did to get there.

Lean into it and see what can happen.

Your journey won’t start until you take the first step.

For more information on paying off your mortgage faster, you can get my ebook How To Hack Your Mortgage And Save Thousands by clicking here.

➡️ What to read next: 11 Best Personal Finance Podcasts For Achieving Financial Freedom

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What have you done to pay off your mortgage?

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