Yesterday a woman thanked me for “normalizing mortgage-free life”. I didn’t think much of it at first, but then I remembered the Black women I watched on TV reporting the news, or the teen I saw on stage who earned enough scholarships to pay for college, and the stories I’d read of families paying off their mortgage early. All of these examples represented hope and possibilities for me. If they could do it, I could do it. Representation matters in so many ways.
As a society it’s totally cool and acceptable to show off our fancy furniture we got with a low interest rate, the vacations we took on a credit card, or our brand new car with a very high sticker price. But less popular are the people sharing the wins of paying off debt, going to community college to save money, paying cash for a car, or paying off a mortgage.
If you’re wanting to pay off debt, pay off your home early, or work on a path towards financial independence, I think something that’s important to remember is it doesn’t have to look the same for everyone. And there are many roads to getting there.
You can start small. Something as simple as rounding up your mortgage payment to the nearest $100, or adding one extra mortgage payment every year, can add up to months or years off your home loan. I like using some of these mortgage calculators to see how much of a difference extra payments can make. Remember, every little bit off the principal now, lowers interest owed. Most interest is collected up front toward the beginning of the mortgage.
I can’t stress enough how KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. Everybody likes to spend money (including me! It’s fun!) but much less like to talk about how they’re making or managing it. Few people want to share the nitty gritty about sacrifices, or owning up to our negative mindsets and relationships with money. I didn’t have this knowledge growing up. But now you’d better believe we’ll be passing on what we’ve learned to our kids, and others.
One way I’ve learned is through books.
A couple weeks ago I shared how we paid off our home early and mentioned the book we were given as a wedding present that got the wheels turning for us. Today I’m going to share a few more books that have helped me as we worked to save for our down payment, then pay off our house quickly.
I believe there are two huge tangible things I can attribute to this reality so I’ll split these books into those categories. Financial literacy, and positive mindset.
I listened to most of these books on audio (because that’s how I like to ingest nonfiction) but a few I also purchased a few in hardcopies so I can refer back, highlight, and lend to friends. I suggest you check and see if your library has copies of these books, or if you want you can read some through an Audible Plus free trial, or my new personal favorite book app, the Scridb app. You can use my link to get 2 months free.
Financial Literacy to Learn How to Pay off Your Mortgage
This isn’t something I was raised to know. Sure, I knew debt was bad and savings was good, but beyond that I didn’t understand that saving was something I could do, even on my minimum wage income. I have the words “we are SO POOR” written in my journal from our first year of marriage over and over again. We were, and that situation could have gone from bad to worse real fast, but fortunately that wedding gift set us on the right path.
I read a handful of books that gave me the kick in the rear to get more aggressive towards our mortgage, but I think these books are also great for anyone wanting to get in a better financial situation. Some of these I’ve read years ago but re-read this year, and few were new to me this year.
We’d already been living most of these principals but having the blueprint to run by the order of which to save for kids’ college, retirement, and paying off a house was helpful. But if you’re drowning in debt, this book is even better. I’m in an African American Dave Ramsey group on Facebook and it’s so inspiring seeing how so many people are WINNING with money by using these principals.
Once you’ve come to grasp the Baby Steps, and you’re out of debt, this is the next book . It mostly covers methods for saving and investing. This helped me break down my savings goals even more and decide whether refinancing our home, paying it off quickly or investing were better options for us. This is more for the stage after your main debt is paid off. But it is an excellent resource for making more, spending less, and investing the difference.
This is another Ramsey book but co-written with his daughter Rachel Cruze. This book had so many great money lessons I’ve been sharing with our kids. We’ve already been discussing things like saving for their own cars, and the costs of loans, and how interest can be earned or paid. This book inspired me to pursue paying off the house quicker for the sake of showing our kids a HUGE example that will hopefully help inspire them to lead debt-free lives.
Mindset Books to Help You Achieve Your Goals
I’ve always been a pretty positive person but until recently I had a poor mindset about money. I thought money was the root of all evil. Money couldn’t buy happiness. People who made lots of money were greedy. I’d never make lots of money and that would be ok. The system was set up so that I couldn’t make lots of money and to keep people who look like me from making money.
Money can’t buy happiness, but it can help a lot of people. I read two books that completely changed my mindset about money (and life). Among other things, I saw an immediate change in my income.
I first heard about this book when my oldest went to Kindergarten. It was a program her school was using. The book breaks down how different mindsets shape our capabilities: Gratitude, Service, Community, Accountability, Passion and so on. I think it’s so quick and easy to say “Well I can’t do that because XYZ” or “Must be nice to _____ because [inset assumption about someone]”. Making excuses for why we can’t do something is easier than finding reasons that we can. This book really inspired me to see the potential in myself and others. Each time I felt uplifted and inspired once I finished. I’ve read this two or three times and I know I’ll read it again.
This book blasted all of my money mindset issues to smithereens. With quotes like “The walls of your comfort zone are lovingly decorated with your lifelong collection of favorite excuses.” Or “Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver.” The book combines some of the mindset stuff I love from The Secret and money stuff I’d never heard before. While applying it to business decisions and entrepreneurship. I think it is helpful even if you aren’t working for yourself, but wanting to learn the importance of investing in yourself. Or if you have had or have a poor relationship with money.
This book has nothing to do with money, but everything to do with mindset. From overweight pest control worker to Navy Seal, David Goggins has an incredible story of overcoming so much. His book Can’t Hurt Me has a hilarious way of delivering a mindset message about giving life your all. It’s not meant to be hilarious but I found the language kind of funny. There’s a clean version for those of you not fond of all the f-bombs.
The book is filled with quotes that helped me stop looking for excuses, and take responsibility for my own life. “It won’t always go your way, so you can’t get trapped in this idea that just because you’ve imagined a possibility for yourself that you somehow deserve it. Your entitled mind is dead weight. Cut it loose. Don’t focus on what you think you deserve. Take aim on what you are willing to earn!”
Hopefully these books will help you get started if you’re looking to make a financial change. If you’re interested I can share more resources like budgeting apps, courses, podcasts and such. But I wanted to give you something to chew on for now. I’ve read and enjoyed each and every one of these. I’ve referred to them all multiple times for inspiration and advice.
Don’t let anyone tell you what you can or can’t do. Don’t let anyone make you believe you are less-than, unworthy or incapable of achieving financial success. Believing you can, and sticking to a plan is a huge part of the battle. It can be easy to get stuck in the belief that it’s impossible, so why bother trying?
Don’t sell yourself short. Go get that knowledge then go get that money!