Is paying off your mortgage and living mortgage free really like having financial freedom?
When you have a mortgage, it may seem like it would be.
When you finally pay off your mortgage, you realize it’s not yet quite financial freedom.
I’m mortgage free, but, I still have about $400 / month in property taxes and $750 / month in maintenance fees. So, even though I own my house, I still need to make sure I earn at least $1150 / month to keep it.
And that’s just a minimum. You also need a few hundred a month for utilities such as water, heat, and electricity. And finally food.
For me, internet is almost a necessity as electricity. So, you can add that and other services such as a phone to your expenses.
The key is to create an expense breakdown to see how much income you need to cover all the expenses over and above having a roof over your head.
An expense breakdown is your first step to living within your means. When you live within your means, you will be able to save and create wealth.
Below is a breakdown I created for my family, which includes my wife and daughter, for just “essential” expenses:
|Expense||Amount (per month)|
|Groceries (includes toiletries)||$500|
|2 cell phones||$100|
*Car loan – I don’t have a car loan, but, it’s my placeholder amount for having (buying) a car. As you can see, having a car is a big waste of money. After your mortgage, it’s about tied with condo fees for the next biggest expense when you include the related expenses of maintenance and insurance.
** Clothing – I have never kept track how much I spend on clothing because I buy it so infrequently. But, I guess you have to have some minimum amount of clothing as essential since we do normally wear clothes 🙂
*** Entertainment passes are for my daughter and include membership to the zoo and other places. I’m including it as “essential” because my wife and I will go crazy if we didn’t have these memberships 🙂
You can also see that to have your “basic” expenses covered, you need to earn almost $3,300 per month for a family of 3. This doesn’t include restaurants, vacations, daycare (which is about $1500 / month) if you have young kids, and other stuff.
So, living mortgage free isn’t financial freedom. Not by a long shot.
You still need to earn more than $39k a year even if you paid off your mortgage. And that’s just your basic expenses. That comes out to about a $25 / hour job, when taking taxes into account because expenses use up your income after you’ve paid your taxes.
So, living mortgage free isn’t close to financial freedom, but, what it does is increase your job opportunities because you can take lower paying jobs and still survive.
When you finally cover all your basic expenses, what it does is lift a huge weight off of you mentally.
Think about it, when your basic expenses are covered, you don’t need to worry about pleasing your boss and keeping your job. If you hate your boss or job, you can leave.
You can really take whatever job you like if it’s at least $24 / hour. Because whatever you make, it’s your disposable income for the “fun” expenses like going out to the restaurant, vacations, or whatever.
I can tell you it’s exhilarating 🙂
Now, those of you who know me, know that I don’t slack off. I always work hard at whatever I do.
But, if I were to take a job and I got some crazy boss that breathes down my throat and barks and yells, or you know, they’re just a plain asshole (and there are many of them and co-workers), I can just say, see you later, hasta la vista, sayonara, adios, whatever you want!
And that in itself is an aspect of freedom that is just plain sweet!