May 2010: Just over 4 years ago Paula and I were staring at a financial statement that said we owed just over $200,000+ plus on the condo we’d purchased 3 years earlier; yep, despite 36 months of making bi-weekly payments, paying a hefty penalty in exchange for a lower interest rate ($9K!) and adding a bit extra to the principle here and there, we’d only made a $38,000 dent in our $240,000+ mortgage! This sudden realization shocked the hell out of us, and created a vision of our financial future that was – to say the least – pretty frickin’ scary!
This sad lack of progress conjured up “A Christmas Carol” style images, only these had me being chased around by the “Ghost of Future Mortgage Debt” well into my 60’s or beyond – see “actual image” of the nightmare above, carefully extracted from my brain! And just in case it’s still unclear, that’s me in the white cap, and the creepy Frankenstein-looking guy (With a toothache? WTF?) is our mortgage debt; looking at this terrifying image now makes me thing that I probably shouldn’t have had that last glass of wine before bed!
With this sudden jolt of reality, I did what I always do: I chronicled this shocking discovery – and what we decided to do about it – in a post, since writing is my way of flushing through things, and usually provides some form of guidance and sheds light on solutions to problems. In it I highlighted the fact that I’d recently stumbled upon a video (fortunately!) that offered some advice for exactly this situation – advice that radically changed our financial philosophy regarding mortgages forever. After hearing these words of wisdom, Paula and I made a hard-core plan to get serious about ridding ourselves of our mortgage debt once and for all, and to do so in record time. Curious about what I heard that day that changed my life? Read it here.
Sept 30th, 2014: After 4+ years of “sacrificing”, belt-tightening and noses to the grindstone, the day has finally arrived – the day that we made the final payment on our mortgage! Truth be told, the final payment happened about 4 months earlier than originally planned; this “sped-up” version had us paying off the final $4,300 by moving a bit of money around in my accounts, which may have you wondering why would I do such a thing? Why not just tough out the last few months and stick to the schedules in both my life and work? Good questions, and I can answer them both in one word – Sanity. Okay, to be clear on my motive for doing this I really should use four words, and all in caps. They are: 1) TO. 2) KEEP. 3) MY. 4) SANITY. Here’s why:
After a pretty stressful couple of months in both my life and at my job, I began reminding myself what drove us to the quest of being debt-free in the first place, and asked: “Do I really want the daily stress and angst of working at a job I no longer enjoy?” The thought of retiring from my job has been a pretty powerful motivator for me over the past 4 years; however lately I’ve come to realize something that can’t be ignored any longer – that the time for change is NOW, not later – and this fact makes the completion of this goal urgent, and more relevant than ever.
This realization caused me to ask myself another question: Did it make sense to “borrow” $5K from my investments so I can put the mortgage to bed 3 full months early and get on with my life? Knowing the alternative, I deliberated hard for 1.1 seconds, and came back with a resounding “YES”! So with hot coffee in hand, I got on the phone with my financial guy and (a) arranged to move the money to the appropriate account; once that was done, I (b) got on my computer and drafted up my resignation letter – effective in one month’s time – and attached it to an email, which I then spent 20 minutes staring at knowing that by adding a couple of names in the “To:” box, followed by the push of a button, everything would change for me. I took one final swig of my now lukewarm coffee, hit “Send”, and Whoosh! Off it went; and life as I knew it changed forever in that moment.
It’s true: The moment my index finger left the “Send” key my whole body shuddered, and I felt completely liberated! Knowing I would soon have time to chase my dream without the external pressure of outside employment was like having a monkey – no, make that the whole primate section of the Bronx Zoo – lifted from my back! I immediately felt “lighter”; and whether or not I really did gain them, I suddenly felt a spring in my step, and a song in my voice. Now all I have to do is work out the final few weeks of my notice, by taking the high road, doing the work, completing the tasks, and not worrying about things that – let’s say – I’d normally worry about if I wasn’t on my way out. My goal is always to leave things better than I find them, and I’m confident I can say this about the sales territory I oversaw the past 7 years, so I’m pleased with that.
In fact, bringing all this “life-changing” goodness together was so awesome, we felt it deemed it worthwhile enough for us to spring for a $60 – bottle of champagne to celebrate, which we did… Yippee!
What’s Next?: Last night we celebrated our achievement in typical Knapp-Fisher fashion – lots of good food and wine, and honestly I can’t express the freedom this whole deal has made me feel! It’s only been two days since we’ve had zero mortgage, and a mere 3 weeks since I put in my notice at work, but everything has changed in my physiology: I feel lighter, (a.k.a. way less stressed) energetic, and have a renewed and excited feeling of expectation for my – our – future, mostly because of these epic changes, but also because of these other factors:
As usual, Paula’s killing it at work and earns enough to carry our day-to-day expenses; this allows me to take some time to decompress, and then plan out the next chapter of my life of retirement from employment for other people. Oh sure, I might pick up some small job along the way for a day or two a week, but only on the conditions it will (a) allow me to interact with cool people, and (b) support them by offering up my skill set and personality to help them achieve their goals. In other words, any employment I might take won’t be for the money, because at this point, it doesn’t need to be. This is one way I figure I can “live my truth” and help anyone I meet who can use what I have to offer.
But the real goal is to finally – after years and years of dabbling – develop my speaking and training business, which has been my dream for as long as I can remember. The idea is to create a platform where I can take all the amazing things I’ve learned and experiences I’ve had – in both life and business – and use them to inspire people to build their own achievable plans to live lives full of awesome experiences (whether they look like mine, or something totally different) in a fun, supportive environments, and why not? We’ve done it many times ourselves, and therefore know it’s totally possible… so why not share the “secrets” we’ve learn about living the good life with as many people as we can?
I truly believe that everything we want out of life already exists – it’s just our job to build the pathway towards them, then follow that path until we achieve our goals. I also believe that I’m just the guy to help other people know this is a very possible thing that ANYONE can do. And seriously, how cool is that?
Oh, and just in case you don’t believe me, just let me know – I’ve got a fully paid mortgage that says otherwise! And with that said, I’m off to buy some more wine to celebrate today being Friday, as well as the rest of my life! – Woo Hoo!
Until next time! Fish… Out!