The Year We Saved $10K: Paying the Imaginary Mortgage

In the latest installment of the Saved $10K series, J A Y tallies up his income, expenses, and savings:

J A Y: I’ve always saved $20–30K/year on a salary of around $50K by cutting expenses without undue suffering. I’ll try to make up for “boring” with “numbers” — a strategy that has never, ever worked.

2007–2011 was when my goals were clearest. I had left my basement apartment and bought a house ($240K with $140K mortgage). It was my first experience paying interest and I wanted to pay it off ASAP.

Monthly budget:


$3,481 to $3,947 (net)


Food: $150

Fun: $200 (anything that was not food/shelter)

Utilities: $250

Transport: $175

Taxes: $250

Mortgage: $866 regular + $866 extra


~$1000/month left over, mostly applied yearly to mortgage

Stuff that I didn’t miss:

Coffee, alcohol, furniture (childhood futon/desk), cell phone, vacations, air conditioning

Stuff that helped:

Friends with inexpensive hobbies (board games, RPGs, online games), living close to work, discount produce, low interest rates, online amortization tables

My savings ended up being ~$30k/year, all put towards mortgage, which ended up being paid off in those 5 years plus a few months. My bank balance was always close to zero, but my safety net was that I could forgo mortgage payments up to the amount that I had paid in advance.

These days, I still pay my imaginary mortgage into savings ($800 bi-weekly). My income has increased to just over $50k and my lifestyle is a bit more normal. It feels like luxury.

TL;DR: high salary, low spending

Photo: chispita_666 (cropped)

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