How We Paid Off Our $223,000 House By The Time We Were 30 (Yes, We Have Kids!)

Hello! Today, I have a great guest post on an amazing debt payoff story. If you are interested in learning how to pay off your mortgage early, this is something you should definitely read! Enjoy. I get asked all the time, “how in the world did you pay off your house at your age?”  Normally…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: June 14, 2021

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you decide to make a purchase via my links, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. See my disclosure for more info.

How We Paid Off Our $223,000 House By The Time We Were 30 (Yes, We Have Kids!) #howtopayoffmortgageearly #debtfreeHello! Today, I have a great guest post on an amazing debt payoff story. If you are interested in learning how to pay off your mortgage early, this is something you should definitely read! Enjoy.

I get asked all the time, “how in the world did you pay off your house at your age?”  Normally I give some wise anchor answer like I won the lottery, or my rich uncle died but those just aren’t true.  The truth is, I’m a pretty normal guy but I had a big, not so normal goal.

Hi, I’m Tyler, my wife Ashlee and I paid off our $223,000 mortgage off by the time we were 30.  Now, we live a life full of freedom, adventure, and 4 kids. 

So here is how we did it. I know some of these things are pretty common-sense things, but I happen to know for a fact that they work. (Because we did it!)  

Related content on how to pay off your house faster:

How to pay off your mortgage early.


Dedication is key to paying off your mortgage early

Dedication is key when you want to achieve a specific goal, let alone a big hairy goal like paying off your house.  We weren’t dedicated to the goal of paying off our house just to have a paid off house.

We were dedicated to paying off our house because we knew what it would do for us and our family.

We had 2 kids when we first started our debt free journey (now we have 4) and we wanted to spend more time with them, especially me.  We knew if we could pay off our house super fast, we would be able to give our kids the time and dedication they deserve.

We knew that if we had a paid off house, our career, work and business decisions would be free from the stress of having to worry about making a specific amount of money to pay the mortgage.

We knew it would free our time up, so not only could we spend more time with our kids, but we would be able to spend more time as a couple too.  We knew it would bring a freedom that we hadn’t had in a long time. That is what we were dedicated to.

Related: To find out more, check us out at Paid Off House.  



When you focus your time and energy on a specific goal, good things will happen.  You have to have it be your number 1 priority. This kind of focus will allow you to push things off to the side that don’t matter and keep moving toward paying off your house.  

You can’t let the little things, or the big things get in your way.  The little things are the little sacrifices you have to make day in and day out to achieve your goal.  

Giving up those $10 lunches or the constant trips to Target or Walmart (those will eat you alive), cutting cable or whatever it may be.  Those are the little things that will nickel and dime you to death.

The big things are the luxurious things that tempt all of us.  

New cars, boats, super expensive vacations and so on. I’m not saying live like a bum, we didn’t.  We still had a lot of fun and went on vacations while we were paying of our house, but we did it smart with our focus still on the big prize.  Now, we could go on vacation every month if we wanted to!



Let’s face it, if you’re not willing sacrifice, you will never hit a big goal like paying off your house.  Just like being focused, you have to be willing to give up things in order to hit a big goal. I drove a 2004 car with 200k miles on it (I still have it by the way) when I easily could have splurged and bought a nicer one.  

Whether it’s sacrificing your lifestyle for a period of time or working really hard to make extra money or both, without sacrifice, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always been getting. I sacrificed a lot of long days and some nights to increase my income.

I was working in sales, so the nice thing was, the more I worked, the more I made.  Everything extra we made went directly to the mortgage principal. When we first started out, I was only making about $60,000 and my wife is a stay at home mom (hardest job ever).  By working like a mad man, I was able to increase my income month after month along our journey..

I’m 100% positive that the reason I was able to increase my income, was because of our goal and our drive to hit it so quickly.  Had we not had that goal, we could have lived of $60,000 no problem and been comfortable. By reaching for something greater, we were able to succeed.  It’s not easy but it’s so worth it. Get out of your comfort zone and start doing something hard!



Budgeting has a lot to do with focus and sacrifice.  You have to be dedicated and focused on your budget or it won’t work.  I know budgets aren’t always a lot of fun, but when you stick to them, they work.

When my wife and I started doing our budget, it was a guaranteed fight every time (mostly because I was such a tightwad) but after some trial and error, we got the kinks worked out and it really started to improve our communication and our overall financial picture.  By doing our budget, we knew exactly how much extra we were able to throw at our mortgage each month.

If you want to pay off your house, you have to know how much money you are bringing in and where you are spending it. It sounds simple and after a little trial and error, it is simple, and it does work.


Better Half On Board

If you are single, you can skip this section because the only person you have to worry about is yourself.  For those of us who are married, it is essential that our spouse be on board with us. It would be impossible to do this on your own.  Luckily, my wonderful wife was on board from the get go. She saw the vision I saw of a world of financial freedom.

I’m not going to lie to you and say it was all cupcakes and rainbows. My wife enjoys buying clothes and one of our main challenges was coming up with an amount of money that we both felt good with that she could blow (I mean spend) on clothes. It took a little give and take but we made it work. Now that we have our house paid off, well, let’s just say her ‘clothes fund’ is very healthy!

If for some reason your better half isn’t on board, try to get them to see the vision of what debt free could mean for you.  There must be something that gets them excited. For us, it was the freedom, travel when we want, spend more time with kids and just the overall peace of mind of having no mortgage.  Everybody is different, find out what really gets them going because whatever it is, just imagine how much bigger and better you’ll be able to do it when your house is paid off.


Free Your Income

The main reason we were able to pay off our mortgage off so fast (3.4 years) wasn’t because we were making a ton of money or because we ate ramen noodles everyday.  What really helped us is that we didn’t have any other debt or big expenses. By not having any other obligations, huge portions of my take home pay would go towards the mortgage.  

Think about how much extra money you would have if you didn’t have any other payments other than your mortgage.  If all your money is going towards payments on credit cards, car loans, student loans etc., your money is tied up.  Pay off your consumer debt as fast as you can and free up your income.  It will allow you to throw big hairy payments at your mortgage and knock it out super fast.


Don’t give up

When we first took out our 15-year mortgage when we were 27 years old, I would think to myself, “man, I’m not going to have this house paid off until I’m 42 years old.”  Back then I thought 42 was really old and it just seemed like an eternity.

Even when I did the calculations of putting extra toward the principal of the mortgage, it still seemed like forever before it would get paid off.  We didn’t give up and we were determined to pay that sucker off.

At first, we weren’t able to throw a lot at it and it wasn’t paying down very fast.  When the balance goes from $223,510 to $222,510, it doesn’t move the needle very much.  

It kind of demotivates you. You have to stick with it!

Our 15-year mortgage turned into a 3.4 year mortgage because we didn’t give up.  We slowly and methodically kept paying down our balance month after month. Some months we were able to throw big chunks at it and others we were only able to make the minimum payment.  The key was just keeping on keeping on!


The “WHY” of paying off your mortgage early.

Have you ever wondered what kind of things you could do if you had your house paid off?  We did. In fact, that was our driving force that allowed us to work so hard and pay it off so fast.  If you have your “why” set in stone, it allows you to get through the hard stuff and keep your eye on the prize.  

Here were our “why’s”.



If you like to travel like we do, paying off your house will give you the freedom to go whenever and wherever tickles your fancy!  

Since we paid off our house 3 years ago we have able to go to Hawaii 2 times, an Alaskan cruise, Cancun, Cabo, Puerto Rico, Florida (Disney World), Ensenada, Disney Land twice (not my choice), Vegas, Mexico City twice, Washington DC, France, Vancouver, New Port Beach, Lake Powell 4 times (happiest place on earth), Yellowstone, Zions National Park, and several small trips inside our great state of Utah.  I think that list would be even longer if our kids weren’t so young.

The point here is when you don’t have a house payment, it frees up a lot of your income to do things you really love doing.  I’m not a big spender by any means and really don’t care for luxury items but I love to travel and make memories with my family.  


Spend time with my family

I have a really good friend that works on Wall Street.  He makes a ton of money but considers himself a weekend dad.  He gets up at 5:00am to get ready, catches the train by 6:00am and gets to work by 7:30am.  He works all day and then catches the train to get back home by 8:00 pm. By this time his kids are asleep, and he repeats the process day after day until the weekend comes and he can see his kids.  Thus, “weekend dad”. Sound fun? Not to me.

I have nothing against hard work.  Trust me, I’ve worked my butt off to get in the position we’re in now but that was a short-term thing for a long-term purpose.  There were some days that I wouldn’t see my kids all day either. But I knew if I could hit my goal of paying off my house, I could spend as much time with my family as I wanted to, and now I do.  Life is all about family and spending time with them.

Do you ever find yourself playing princesses with your 4-year-old daughter in the middle of the day on a Tuesday?  I do. Or how about playing ball with your boys on a Thursday afternoon? I do. I even get to coach my boys little league teams and not have to miss any of their games or important activities. It’s awesome!  

I also get to spend a ton more time with my wife as well.  We go out to lunch all the time, exercise together, work on projects together, go hiking, mountain biking, boating together and the list goes on and on.  Not to mention I’m able to help her out around the house a lot more (her favorite). If you’re a family man like me, this will be one of the best rewards you will get from paying off your house.


Giving back

One thing that I have dreamed of doing since I was in my early 20’s was a doing a humanitarian mission to Mexico.  My parents taught me to serve others and doing a humanitarian mission was right up my alley. It’s hard to do these kind of things if you don’t have extra money or time. When you pay off you house, you have both.

After we paid off our house, I took my then 8-year-old son to an orphanage in Mexico where we helped build a little school house.  This was an amazing experience! Luckily, I grew up working construction with my dad, so I was really able to put my skills to work. I highly recommend you do a humanitarian mission of some kind.  You really appreciate life more when you see how little some people have in the world.

On a separate humanitarian mission a year later, I was also able to travel to Mexico again and help a water foundation that helps build wells for communities that don’t have potable water.  Again, another life changing experience! If you have ever dreamed of making a difference in someone’s life, getting yourself in a good financial position will allow you to do these kinds of things.  


Help others Financially

When don’t have extra money, it is impossible to help others financially.  Once we paid off our house, we were able to really start helping people out financially.  Think of things that you could do to help people out financially if you didn’t have a house payment.  If gives you so many options.

Here are some of the things we have done to help people financially:  Give huge tips at restaurants, pay for people’s meals behind us at drive thru’s.  The secret Santa for families in need each Christmas (my personal favorite). Give extra to our church.  Give to fundraisers. Help family members that are struggling. A little while back my wife’s cousin was going through a divorce, so we surprised her with a nice juicy check!  It was awesome!

Helping people out financially is one of the most fun and rewarding things you can do with money.


Buy nice things

Like I said before, I’m not a big spender and luxury items just aren’t my thing.  But when you pay off your house, if you want nice things, you can buy nice things.  When we were getting out of debt, I sold my Nissan Titan that I loved to help us speed the process up.  Those were some long years without a truck let me tell you.

After we paid off our house, I got my Nissan Titan back, and in nicer fashion!  I have a sweet truck that I paid cash for and my wife drives a sweet SUV that we paid cash for (she likes nice things more than me).  

The point is, when you have your house paid off, you can save up and pay for anything super fast.  If you like nice clothes, you can buy nice clothes. If you like nice cars, you can buy nice cars. You have to pay the price and have some patience for a while, but it is so worth it.  



Because we don’t have all our money going to banks, credit cards, mortgage companies etc, we have money to invest.  It’s amazing how much money you free up when you pay off your house.

I love investing.  Ever since I took a finance class in college and started calculating the time value of money, I was hooked.

Here is an example of what a mortgage payment invested can do for you:  My mortgage payment was $1558. If I just took that $1558 mortgage payment and put it into a good mutual fund that averaged 10% (mine have averaged 10% over the last 10 years) for 30 years, it would grow into about $3.5 million!  Who could get mad at that? And that is only a mortgage payment! Think of all the other money that you will have to invest as well.

One of the biggest investing benefits I’ve experienced from paying off my house was money and time that I’ve been able to invest in myself.  I’ve invested in courses, books, conferences, seminars, classes etc not only just for business and financial gain, but also for personal and family gain.  This money that I’ve been able to invest in myself has paid me a huge return, not just in money but also in quality of life.


Quality of life

Your quality of life when you pay off your house is unquantifiable (that’s probably the biggest word I’ve ever used in my life).  I say that because most financial advisors will tell you to keep your mortgage for 30 years at 4.5% or whatever your interest rate is and invest the difference to make the spread.  

That sounds good and just might work but they leave out the risk of having debt (mortgage debt is still debt) and also the unquantifiable factor of your quality of life without a house payment.  I am 100% certain my return on investment from paying off my house is 100 times better because of what it has done to my quality of life.

I know you have heard it before, “if I can do it, so can you”. But it’s true, I know you can pay off your house if you have a big enough “why”.  Once you do, you’ll have the rest of your life of pure freedom!

Like our story?  Check us out at Paid Off House.

Do you want to pay off your mortgage early? Why or why not?

Filed under:

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

Like this article?

Join the Conversation

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Kelly

    “She’s a woman, and like most women, bless your hearts, she really like clothes.”

    This is sexist and condescending, and I’m really disappointed to see it here. Why not just say, “My wife enjoys buying clothes, so we worked together to create an apparel budget we both could live with.”

    1. Hey Kelly,

      I don’t know how I missed that when I read this guest post. I will be updating it right now as you are right – that is condescending.

      1. Kelly

        Thanks so much, Michelle — really appreciate it.

  2. Paying off debt is such a beautiful feeling while achieving and being thankful to accomplish side hustle millionaire status. Paying off a mortgage is extremely humbling because it does something to the mind: it helps anyone to “get financially organized,” be frugal with spending, and take a low financial profile.

    1. Well said! I couldn’t agree more.

  3. Tyler Hastings

    I must say, as a 21 year old college student, I do not look forward to underataking a large amount of debt (student loans were scary enough). However, the points you raised about figuring out your why was incredibly inspiring. Thank you for the helpful and encouraging post Tyler! I loved reading every word of it:) if you could check out the blog I just launched, I would greatly apprecaite any pointers you might have!

  4. Walter

    If you paid off your mortgage in 3 years.
    And you were. Making 60 k a year.
    Even if pre tax you put all 60k towards the loan that’s only 180,000 and you’re saying you paid off 220k+.(and the most interest is the first years of a mortgage )

    How is that possible.

    1. In the “sacrifice” section, I talked about how we started out making $60k, but then I was able to increase my income month after month. You’re right, it would have been impossible to do it in 3.4 years if our income had stayed at $60k.

      1. Thank you Tyler. 🙂

  5. Great story! It’s so true that once you set a big financial goal, the spending sacrifices and drive to find ways to increase your income really kick in. When you look for excuses, you find them. When you look for ways to save, you find them. And when you look for ways to earn, you find those too. 🙂 Congrats on being mortgage-free!

    1. Thanks Val, you are exactly right!

  6. Victor Romero

    So I did the math, just out of curiosity, and I figured out you and your family were throwing an average of $5,575 a month to the mortgage to be able to pay it off in 3.4 years (40 months). That’s crazy!
    Good job and very inspiring story!

  7. Thanks Victor! It was crazy! Some months we would barely throw extra at it and a few times I remember sending a $10k check when I would hit a huge sales goal. It was awesome watching that balance decrease by that much at a time.

  8. Hi! We’re doing this very same thing. We’ve cleared our other debts and are now attacking a £275,000 mortgage (not sure in $, sorry 🙂
    It feels huge, it is huge, but the more we pay the more I seem to be inspired to work harder to get it gone faster!
    Brilliant post, well done. What an achievement!

  9. John

    Paying off your mortgage might feel good, but it’s rarely the best financial decision.

    We could have paid off our mortgage years ago, but it has never made financial sense.

  10. Harriette

    I mean, this is a great achievement, but I’m a financial adviser and paying off your mortgage early is NOT a sensible investment.

    It may seem like a relief to have paid off all the debt, however having a mortgage is actually the best investment. Rates are low and savings accounts pay out more than mortgages cost.

    You’re now sitting on a pile of equity that isn’t working for itself.

    My advice and my personal goal is to have as many mortgages as possible so the money works and I don’t have to.

  11. Chris

    Yeah, sorry, no. I believe this story exactly zero.

    As a household that makes over 80k a year, we just grabbed a 180k mortgage with no kids. There is absolutely no way we could afford to throw over $5,000 a month to a mortgage.

    You can’t say you usually made $60k a year and then turn around and say there were times you put $10,000 in for a mortgage payment. That’s absurd.

    What kind of sales job do you have in your 20s that allows you to make over 10k in a month?

    This story is only believable if you conveniently left out the entire part of you having a ridiculous hook up for a ridiculous job with no investment. Sales jobs do not bring in that kind of money.

    A ‘pretty normal guy’ isn’t a 20-something with a stay at home wife, two kids, and a 220k house paid off from a sales job. This story is absolutely bunk.

    1. James Keefe

      So true. Absolute nonsense. He’s earning 60k with no income from wife so 30k each with 2 kids. They are leaving out so much. It’s bs.

      1. Bs

        Came to say the same thing. Such a BS article with very generalized points that i could make up myself. Does not “make cents”!

      2. Hey James,

        Curious- Where did you find this article? I’ve noticed a lot of views to this blog post lately and am curious as to where it was shared.

  12. Kelvin

    Let’s say the interest is 3.25% for 15 years mortgage and the interest is tax deductible, making the interest rate more like 3%. Don’t you think your $225,000 cash can get much better return in stock market or just go buy a rental house. Any investment is better than your mortgage interest.

    1. Hey Kelvin,

      Curious- Where did you find this article? I’ve noticed a lot of views to this blog post lately and am curious as to where it was shared.

  13. Phil

    I think this is pretty inspiring. It just feels so out there and impossible to actually get rid of a mortgage before you reach retirement age that most people dont iven consider it.

    To see that other people have done it and to then get a run down of how they have managed it and the progression that they went through is amazing.

    Thanks for puttin ghtis out there.