Aiming to become mortgage free? Cutting these 15 expenses will help you shave years off your mortgage
A mortgage is usually the biggest financial debt you’ll ever have. When you buy your first house you are full of excitement and dreams about making that house your perfect home. A year or two down the line and reality sets in. You have taken on a debt that will take you 30 years or more to pay off.
That £800 a month you pay towards your mortgage is no longer your money. You owe it to the bank and they want it month after month after month.
What if you could pay off your mortgage 10 years early? Or even 20? How would it feel to claim back that mortgage payment for yourself?
We decided after paying our mortgage for 5 years that we wanted rid of that payment. It was our biggest monthly outgoing and 82% of Mr2p’s monthly income. It dwarfed every other bill.
When we took out our first mortgage the interest rates were 12.5%. We thought we were on a great deal with a fixed rate of 9%! House prices may have been significantly cheaper back then but the mortgages sure weren’t.
We felt extremely poor the first couple of years after buying our house. Then Mr2p got another job which paid a bit more. We have never earned large salaries so we knew we would need to make significant changes to our finances in order to become mortgage free but we decided it was worth it.
A mortgage is probably the biggest debt you will have and something you spend years slowly paying off every month. You don’t have to spend 25, 30 or even 35 years paying off your mortgage, you can pay it off quicker.
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15 things we gave up to become mortgage free
The entitlement mentality
When you are working hard and paying all your bills on time it is very easy to fall into the cycle of thinking that you deserve to spend money and buy stuff. We had got into the habit of thinking that we were entitled to, and should, spend all our money on stuff.
As proof to ourselves and others that we had made it. That we should be able to buy anything we wanted because we worked hard.
Reality check – plenty of people in the world work damn hard and don’t get to have a nice house with a large mortgage.
Shifting your entitlement mentality to one where you recognise that every spending decision you make is just that. A conscious decision and one where you could choose differently. We chose to think differently and prioritise our mortgage payments over entitlement spending.
Going out for a meal even once a fortnight can easily add up to £50 a time for the two of you. When we went out for a meal we used to have the full 3 courses plus a couple of drinks although we did save on taxi fares by one of us opting to drive.
We thought about cutting down to one course but felt it was better to go cold turkey and max out the savings we could make here as our income was low so everything we could save was going to help.
We gave up birthday meals, anniversary meals, all of them. Saving up to £100 a month this way and adding it to our mortgage overpayment was more satisfying.
Related money saving post: 10 things I don’t do or buy
As a young family tied to school holidays any holiday we took was going to cost us dearly. Many of our friends went abroad to Europe every summer taking all year to pay for it and paying credit card interest as well.
We decided we could save up to £1000 if we didn’t have a traditional package holiday and made do with camping. Every few years we splashed out and camped in France but always at the end or beginning of the season, never peak time.
Buying new cars
We have always been a two car family and we’ve never bought brand new cars. Which means our cars got old really quick and needed repairing more often than a newer car.
We took breakdown cover to help us get back on the road quickly if one of our cars broke down as we both needed them to get to work.
We kept our cars going for as long as possible. Sucking up the repair costs because these were less over a whole year than a car payment on a newer car. We ignored my FIL’s perceived wisdom of trading in our car for a newer one ‘before it lost too much value’.
Fish and chips
Here in the UK Friday night is often fish and chip night or take out night. Friday is the end of a hard week’s work for many people and we like to treat ourselves by not having to cook.
Mr2p and I were no different and looked forward to fish and chips. But it was a cost we could get rid of and add to the mortgage repayment.
We made do with freezer convenience food instead. Fish and chips at home is slightly more healthy so we cooked at home and banked the extra money.
In the UK we don’t really have cooling bills as the weather doesn’t get hot enough to warrant ever installing air conditioning in your home. However we do seem to have cold (to us) winters that require the central heating to be on for months on end.
I know our cold is very much less cold than friends in Canada and the US but it’s still cold!
We chose to dial down the thermostat and increase our clothing layers to reduce our bills. We also took advantage of the warmth that a cosy blanket provides. We didn’t go as far as wearing hats at home but thought nothing of wearing 3 layers in the winter.
I always feel the cold more than Mr2p so for my birthday one year I received a couple of pairs of fleece lined trousers. Absolute bliss! I wore those trousers non-stop for months as they really made a difference.
Related post: 10 ways to save money on your water bill
When we started attacking our mortgage mobile phones weren’t a big thing (can you believe?) But of course they rapidly become the must have item. Mr2p had to get a mobile phone when he became self employed.
I made do with an employer provided phone until I changed jobs and it was no longer provided.
As mobile phones became more popular Mr2p and I bucked the trend and didn’t take on phone contracts, nor did we change our handsets when the newest release came out.
In fact I only got a phone which connected to the internet in 2016! I stayed on a ‘pay as you go’ tariff until then paying for each text I sent or call I made.
We have probably saved thousands with this. My phone contracts now cost £9 a month and that is the most I have ever paid. I never use our land line as I have free minutes on my mobile phone.
I know sunbeds are truly bad for you but when I was younger I yearned for a tan. It made me feel better about myself and helped my skin – I suffered from mild adult acne.
When you are young you often ignore what is healthy and good for you because the risks seem so far away and not real. Luckily for my health the cost of having a regular sunbed is what stopped me continuing to use them.
I gave them up and relied on the great British weather to help my skin, banking the money I saved instead.
You might be interested in this: 13 financial mistakes I have made and how you can learn from them
I have long, fine hair which doesn’t require much styling as nothing lasts. But it does require regular cutting as the ends get straggly very quickly.
I never had my hair washed at a hairdressers as it seemed pointless when the only bit that was going to be cut was right at the end, often more than 18 inches away from my scalp. But it still cost £20 to have my haircut.
So I cut it myself. It was long enough that I could brush it, reach around and pull my hair to the front to cut it. When my hair got shorter Mr2p took over the cutting of it.
Mr2p has had his own set of clippers for 20+ years and cuts his own hair too. He has a number 2 or 3 all over so not exactly hard to achieve at home.
Birthday cards, celebration cards, anniversary cards, the money you spend on cards can add up. I chose to not buy individually designed cards and always bought when card shops had special offers on, like 10 cards for £1. I’d rather pay 10p for a card than £3.
Now I know it’s not much, after all how many birthday cards do you actually buy? However it’s the principle of every penny counts.
Christmas in January
Rather than paying full price for Christmas cards and wrap I waited until January and bought at huge discounts. Sometimes getting rolls of nice wrapping paper for 10p and packs of cards reduced by 75%. They went in the attic to be produced in November when I was starting to feel the pinch from present buying.
If I found a great bargain then I would stock up. After one great January I don’t think I bought any wrapping paper for about 4 years!
I also try to buy the plain wrap without Christmas motifs, that way I can use it for birthdays and other present giving events. Gold and silver wrap make birthday presents look luxurious.
Related money saving post: 25 tried & tested money saving tips
Drive to walk
Mr2p and I like to have a nice walk in the countryside and explore different areas. But this often comes at a cost of petrol.
We used to drive up to an hour to go some place nice, to walk for an hour or two then drive home again. We stopped this and made do with walking within a 10 mile or so area. We still drove to different places but only 10 minutes away. The added benefit is we are reducing our impact on the environment by not driving so far.
Related post: 50 frugal habits that are also eco friendly
These days movies get released in the cinema and quite quickly go to DVD and onto satellite TV. When we were paying our mortgage off it took longer for movies to get to DVD never mind to terrestrial TV.
But going to the movies isn’t just the price of a ticket. There is the petrol to get there, the car parking, the popcorn and the drinks. The add-ons will double the price of your ticket all told.
So we gave up going to the movies and waited (im)patiently for them to trickle down to free TV. We got used to watching the Saturday night movie on TV which was always at least 3 years old and likely seen before. We watched the adverts for new movie releases and looked forward to the day they appeared on our TV.
Paying our mortgage off was more important to us than watching a film when it was newly released.
Packing your lunch
Mr2p works in the construction industry in a physically demanding job. Because of the energy expended in his job he cannot survive on a salad for lunch.
All his workmates bought their breakfast and lunch from the local shop, takeaway or cafe, whatever was closest. Every day. Mr2p was one of the very few who packed their meals.
Yes it was a big pack up, but it cost a darn sight less than buying burger, chips and a bacon butty daily.
I used to love to read women’s magazines. The ones where they show you fabulous homes, gorgeous accessories and smart outfits.
Everything that you could possibly want, as long as you could afford to buy it. But magazines cost money even if you have them on subscription. I gave up magazines and saved my pennies.
I got my magazine fix by arriving early at my doctors surgery and binge reading as quickly as possible the magazines there!
It took us 10 years to pay off our mortgage once we started attacking it. We didn’t have a lot of spare cash so cutting our bills and going without some luxury items were the only way we could do it.
I know some people highlight how they paid their mortgage off in 5 years. But their income meant they had a lot of loose change to throw at it if they chose.
We had low incomes and little lose change but have proved you can pay off your mortgage despite this. If you make the choice to pay off your mortgage you will be able to do it. Might take you more than 5 years but it certainly won’t take you 30!
Are you aiming to become mortgage free? What actions are you taking to free up extra money?