A few months ago, we paid off our college loans. Shortly after that, we sold my condo (which we had been using as a rental property). We were gloriously debt free. It felt really, really good. And then we bought a house. We put down a sizable down payment, but we still feel the overwhelming need to GET RID OF THE DEBT RIGHT AWAY. Truthfully, we probably could have put down a little more, but we were both raised by parents who like to see money in the bank, plus we knew we needed to furnish the house, and really didn’t want to sacrifice our eating/drinking/having fun lifestyle in our remaining child-free years. We looked at getting a 15-year mortgage instead of the 30-year mortgage, but really the interest rate was only a quarter point better and the mortgage payment ballooned to a place we didn’t feel comfortable. I’m self-employed, so if a big client decides to exit, or we hit another economic downturn, we can’t count on me to bring in the same amount I’m bringing in now. And, if we decide to have kids, that may or may not impact the amount I work. We wanted to keep our options open. As it stands now, we have a 30-year mortgage at a low interest rate at a cost of $30 more than we are currently paying in rent. It’s something we can definitely handle, and have plenty left over to attack the debt. But, in addition to using some of our leftover money to pay down the mortgage, we’re doing a few other creative things to help pay off the debt:
- Online Rebates: I’ve talked about both MrRebates.com and eBates.com before, but I’ll recap. When I’m shopping online, I’ll add the item(s) I want to my shopping cart. Close the browser window and go to either of the two rebate sites I’ve linked to. Click on the store name to return to the site and complete the purchase of the items in your shopping cart. In a few days, your rebate account will be credited with a percentage of the purchase price — anywhere from 1 to 12%. While it’s only a few dollars here and there, if you shop online frequently, it adds up quickly. This year, I’ll earn about $250 in rebates — all for buying things I was already purchasing. Those rebates are going directly towards the principal on the mortgage.
- Grocery Store Rebates: Again, I’ve spoken about iBotta, Checkout 51, Shopmium (use referral code GHGHYHTJ for a free Lindt Chocolate bar and a $2 bonus for your first rebate) and SavingStar before (there is now Snap, too). While I don’t accumulate rebates as quickly as with online rebates, I’ve been able to save a few quarters every week. Plus, it’s nice to be able to purchase apples, carrots, a gallon of milk and receive a little bit back. Between the five I’ll put an extra $60 towards the mortgage this year.
- Using a Big Bank For Our Mortgage: Our mortgage is through a large bank, which other than a credit card, isn’t a bank we deal with regularly. However, one of the incentives to having our mortgage with them is their cash back program. By automatically having our mortgage payment deducted from their checking account, we receive a 1% rebate every year in the form of cash back, or a payment towards our principal. Annually, that adds up to $238 — just for having our mortgage paid auto-magically. When I signed up for the new checking account, I found a coupon code (via Google) for a bonus $250 when you fund the account and have your paycheck direct deposited — which we needed to do anyway to pay our mortgage! Can you guess where that extra (free) $250 is going?
- UserTesting.com: Throughout the day, I keep a separate browser window open for my UserTesting.com account. When a new test appears, the window audibly dings, and if I’m at a place in my work that I can pause, I’ll pop over and complete the test. They usually take about 10 minutes and every test pays $10 (they do run shorter tests that pay $3). The $10 is automatically sent via Paypal seven days after the test is completed. I really enjoy doing the tests, since they are all about evaluation websites and I build websites as a part of my real job. I’ve made $72 this month with these tests.
- Blogging: Shameless plug, but it takes a ton of time and energy to post and pays, well, basically nothing. I love having you stay and read the posts. Clicking on the ads and the affiliate links I post helps put a few extra pennies in my pocket ($70 so far this year). That is money I can put towards hosting, supplies, and our mortgage. I really appreciate having you here and sharing in part of my life!
I know it seems like pennies here and there, but it adds up quickly. Just the items listed above add up to about $930 we’ll put towards the mortgage — over the course of our loan, that shaves a full month off our loan, and saves us $2,025.92 in interest over the life of the loan. Not too shabby, huh?
This post includes affiliate links. Your price doesn’t change, but I do get a few pennies as a thank you for referring. I only refer products I would use myself.