6 steps a mother of 3 uses to pay off the mortgage 17 years ago


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  • Liz Gendroe was excited to pay off her family’s mortgage early after two disasters.
  • Her husband lost his job due to the Great Recession and then nearly died of septic shock after surgery.
  • She refinanced and used a high-yield savings account to pay off the mortgage for a lump sum.

Paying off a mortgage early and getting out of debt completely is a goal for many – it can be an emotional and mentally lifted burden, freeing up energy to focus on other aspects of life without worrying about how to pay the mortgage.

For Liz Gendroe and her husband, Todd Goyazdowski, that was certainly the case. The couple paid off their mortgage 17 years earlier than they originally planned, motivated after experiencing several back-to-back disasters. As an added bonus, they saved over $100,000 in interest fees along the way.

Here are the six things Gendreau, a mother of three childrenhead of information department, and blogger at Chief Mom Officerand her husband to help realize their family’s early dream of realizing a mortgage.

They understand “why”

In 2009, Gwiazdowski lost his job due to the Great Recession. Then, after surgery, he developed septic shock and nearly died. Gendro was 31 years old with two young children.

After Gwiazdowski’s near-death experience, Gendreau knew money wasn’t something they wanted to worry about in times of trouble.

“We learned the hard way that when bad things happen, the last thing you want to worry about is money,” she says.

Gendreau became determined to make sure that if something happened again, they wouldn’t have any debt hanging over their heads, pining for the financial security that came without paying off the mortgage.

Refinance when it makes sense

Gendreau and Gwiazdowski bought their home in 2006 for $345,000, down 20%. In 2013, they Refinance into a 15-year mortgage At a lower rate of 2.75%. This lowered the mortgage to 15 years, but they knew they could pay it off faster.

Make it a priority

During most of the mortgage paying journey, Gendreau was the only source of income, or her husband only worked part-time, so the bulk of her mortgage payments were from a single income.

For her, the biggest lesson was perseverance. “The biggest lesson was that although the goal might seem impossible at first, if you keep moving forward, you’ll get there,” she says. “Not getting a mortgage isn’t as good as people say – it’s better.”

Use a high-yield savings account strategically

Gendreau and her husband set out to put every sudden financial gain, big or small, into a High Return Savings Account. Their extra pay, bonus, and tax refund helped them achieve their early goal.

Gendreau and Gwiazdowski saved a lump sum and paid the outstanding mortgage balance at once. They choose to keep their money in a high-yield savings account because it will earn more interest than a regular savings account or checking account, but they will still be safe and not go up and down with the market.

Gendreau says she chose to save the money in a high-yield savings account rather than make additional mortgage payments over time because she didn’t want to lock up the money in the house where she couldn’t take it out if she lost her job or her husband got sick again.

They made a final payment of $183,000 of their savings to be mortgage-free in 2019.

Celebrate and promise blessings

Now that the family is mortgage-free, they make a once-in-a-lifetime trip to celebrate.

“We paid the house in March of 2019, and took the family on a dream trip to Japan that summer to celebrate,” Gendroe says.

Then, when COVID hit, they sighed because they didn’t have to worry about paying a house.

Gendreau says, “Living without mortgages through the COVID-19 pandemic has been a blessing.” Gendreau knew that no matter what happened to her family she would have a roof over their heads, no debts, which made it so much easier to get through this difficult time.

They took care of other financial priorities too

Gendreau’s final advice? “Make sure you cover your financial fundamentals first, and don’t neglect your retirement or other financial goals for mortgage freedom. You need to find a balance that works for you.”


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