In 2012, at age of 27, Sean Cooper checked one important thing from his wish list – he bought his first house. Only 3 years later, in 2015, at the age of 30, Sean did what most of us can only dream and imagine –he wiped out his mortgage.
To be honest, even though articles with similar titles appeared in many newspapers and online magazines, Sean’s story still seems unbelievable. Fortunately for us, Sean decided to explain his path to financial freedom. He gathered his experiences, explained his methods and offered useful tips on how to free yourself from your mortgage faster and in a more efficient manner in his book, Burn Your Mortgage – The simple, powerful path to financial freedom for Canadians.
To explain Sean’s journey towards financial burden and then towards financial freedom, we’ll start at the very beginning. Super crazy for some and super amazing for others, this is Sean’s story and his journey towards financial freedom.
Sean Cooper went to the Centennial College for 3 years where he took business administration. Then he transferred to the Ryerson University and graduated with a bachelor of Commerce degree from their business management program.
However, Sean’s interest in personal finance was not initiated until starting to read books like The Wealthy Barber from David Chilton.
Being the proud writer of a Pokémon website, his passion for writing was already well developed. Towards the end of 2011, Sean decided to combine his two interest – writing and personal finance and started to write for several websites and blogs.
At the time, Sean already knew that home ownership is an excellent long-term investment. He grew up with parents who have always been home owners and they instilled the importance and benefits of owning a house. Ever since he was 10 years old he dreamed of owning a house.
Driven by his ambitions, Sean planned to buy his first house at the age of 24 but unfortunately for him, the Toronto real estate market was super competitive at the time and he decided to patiently wait for till 27 years old.
Luckily, when the real estate market was ideal for purchasing a house, Sean already had gathered a sufficient amount of money for a down payment. He was putting money aside since he got his first job and graduated from university debt free. As a result he was able to come up with a $170,000 down payment. However, the house he chose was worth $425,500. This left Sean with a mortgage of $255,000.
Well aware of the fact that the Canadian household debt has risen to record levels and still rising, mainly due to fat mortgages fuelled and promoted by pricey homes, Sean decided to pay off his debt as soon as possible.
To achieve this, he started to save money. It was at that point that his story became rather controversial – he engaged into a so-called extreme mortgage burning.
His first decision was to move into the basement of his newly purchased house and rent out the rest of the house. What is more, he took on two extra jobs – one as a financial writer and the other as a clerk in the meat department at the local grocery store. Working for up to 100 hours a week, he had no free time for travelling. This also helped in his saving plan.
To additionally support his goal, Sean decided to eat Kraft dinner for three full years. Once he combined the salaries from his three jobs and his rental income, Sean managed to net about $100,000 per year. As extreme as it may sound, his strategy proved successful. However, he does not advise his readers to be so extreme. Instead he promotes less extreme ways of achieving financial freedom.
Today, Sean Cooper lives in his mortgage-free house in Toronto. He works as a senior pension analyst at a global consulting firm. All of his articles have been featured in major publications, including the Globe, the Toronto Star, the MoneySense and the Mail. He is also a famous public figure as he regularly appears in shows on CBC, Global News, CP24 and CTVNews Network.
So, there is his story. As mentioned earlier, he does have a book called, Burn Your Mortgage.
I haven’t read it myself, but, he provides two main reasons why he wrote the book. The first reason was to promote financial literacy and the second reason was to give millennials hope that the home ownership dream is well and alive.
If I can add a bit about my story as well, I think, yes, home ownership is alive and well. The main point around it that I think everyone hates is how long it takes to pay off your mortgage.
I’ve bought, sold, and completely paid off two homes before 40 myself in Toronto. These were homes in Davisville and Willowdale, not your cheapest places. So, I can attest that you don’t need to go extreme, as Sean also advises.
You can travel and see the world and still pay off your mortgage without going extreme or getting an inheritance 🙂
I’ve travelled to Mexico (3 times), Europe (5 times), and Dominican Repblic twice, Cuba, and Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand all before 40 and paying off 2 separate mortgages.
Some of this was alone, and some of this was with my wife.
You can even have kids, although, I had my first after 40, but, only because my wife and I were having trouble otherwise, we would have had our first before I turned 40 if it went as planned.
And in case you’re wondering, no, my parents aren’t rich. My parents left a war-torn Indonesia when Japan was burning homes down including my mom’s parents.
They came here with nothing. My mom and dad came on a ship fleeing while my dad cleaned dishes on board the ship.
He often tells me how he was seasick the whole time but churned away at cleaning dishes and the seasickness to earn his stay along with my mom on board the ship. They were hoping to start a new life and earn a living and in the United States.
They got turned away, so they tried Canada.
And here they are now and here I am now. The rest is history.
This is the kind of thing that motivates me to be able to work hard and be careful with my money.
I mean, if my parents can come here to a new country with nothing, no friends or relatives, and while fleeing war, I surely should be able to succeed myself, having been born and raised here.
And I hope real life examples like this inspires people to be able to do the same.