How to get what you really want in 7 simple, unglamorous steps

My husband and I conceived of a crazy, unconventional, liberating idea (that also scares the bejesus out of me but hey, fear is growth!). No, we’re not going on a waitlist to Mars. Or selling everything to jet-set across the world and sell fidget spinners. Instead, we’ve decided to pay off the mortgage between now and when it comes up for renewal in November 2020.

Boom!

Imagine. Freedom 45. Now that’s my 2020 vision. I may not be retiring, but getting rid of the mortgage would be one huge weight lifted off my shoulders.

I will admit to feeling exposed and a little nerdy sharing that with you. I feel exposed because as a society, we don’t really like to talk about money.

Icky.

Growing up, I remember being told to avoid topics of conversation that involve politics, religion and money – is any of this resonating with you? I was warned it could lead to some twisty conversations and sour outcomes. (Ha! I’m just realizing I went to school for Political Science, Seminary, I’ve worked in financial services for most of my career and here I am talking about money – pah! Rule breaker!). I can appreciate the advice though. As a whole, we place so much value on money. It’s remarkable how we can give those delicate little leaflets of currency so much power.

I feel nerdy because what we’re doing is so unsexy! At least in a shiny world of consumerism and social media. I mean, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are plastered with images of perpetual happiness, “perfection,” out-of-context photos with filters, the latest gadgets and just a ton of “stuff.” But who posts photos of their bank account? How many page views would that receive? Who tweets about making TFSA and RRIF deposits? In a world wallpapered with images of runway clothing, expensive travels, hot wheels, hot boats, million-dollar homes and perfectly-timed selfies, posting that you’ve rolled your tax return into an RRSP contribution is just so damned unglamorous!

I actually think it’s kinda sad that my husband and I perceive this as a “crazy, unconventional and liberating” idea. Who would’ve thought that living within your means and paying for things instead of racking up a mountain of debt could be so avant-garde. But then again, we’re a society that leverages the shit out of everything.

We know people our age who have done a similar thing. Except it’s not a mortgage – they call it their “F-U Fund.” So one day, if the going gets tough and they want to quit their well-paying jobs, they just access the “F-U Fund” and Bob’s their uncle!

So we’re trying out this new idea of truly living within our means, week by week. And here are seven simple ways we’re doing it:

1) We’ve increased our mortgage payments and pay it down on a weekly basis.
2) We made a realistic budget, with built-in contingencies, and we’re sticking to it.
3) We meet around the kitchen table every Sunday night to pay bills, financially plan for the week ahead, share any concerns, go over strategies for the things we still want to do and track our progress.
4) Any raises we receive at work result in increasing our mortgage payments. Any bonus money is going straight to a lump-sum amount paid on our mortgage. This includes tax refunds (and if we increase our RRSP contributions, the return will be higher).
5) We’re thinking twice about the shit we don’t need.
6) We’re teaching our kids that if they want a new toy, they need to donate, sell, recycle or get rid of some old toys.
7) We’re growing our own vegetables, postponing the kitchen renovation, opting to run or walk outside or on our basement treadmill instead of buying expensive gym memberships and I’m no longer buying so many groceries that the fridge is stuffed and we end up throwing things away.

This doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road for us. I joke with my husband that I’m going to look like a long-haired hippy in three years from now, but I’m only pulling his leg. We’re not trading in the cars for 10-speeds, but we are making the most of what we have and simplifying life to focus on what we really want long-term – not what feels good right now. And it’s working! We’re in week 4 now and off to a great start.

Who knew delayed gratification could feel so amazing?

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