We Paid Off Our House!

Y’all, I am so giddy and excited about this. Matt and I paid off our house yesterday! We own our house outright. And since we don’t ever plan on moving, that means no more mortgage payments…ever!

And that, my friends, is why nine-and-a-half years ago, I was able to see a house that looked like this…

And instead of turning my nose up at it, or running away in horror, I was able to see the possibility. I knew it could be turned into something beautiful with a lot of hard work and determination, and I knew that if we bought this house and gradually turned it into our home, it could afford us a lot of freedom that buying a brand new, turn key home wouldn’t.

There were sacrifices to doing it this way, though. It meant that we had to live through years of construction, which wouldn’t be practical for many people. And there were certainly times that I wondered if I’d ever see the light at the end of the tunnel.

And while on one hand, these last nine-and-a-half years seemed to crawl by while I was in the thick of it, up to my eyeballs in old drywall, insulation, construction dust, and piles of tools and paint cans, now looking back at it, those years seemed to go by in the blink of an eye.

Matt and I bought this house on one acre of land in August 2013 for $83,000. While we were living in the condo, we had saved enough to put down $20,000 as a downpayment, so we only financed $63,000. That’s the benefit of buying a house that was in the condition ours was in!! 😀

I remember so many people, including my mom and brother, thinking we were absolutely out of our minds buying this house. (You can see the whole house in this post where I shared all of the pictures right after we bought the house.) When my brother saw it, he said, “Well, I’m just glad it’s you and not me.” When my mom saw it the first time, she looked at me with a look of horror and concern on her face, and asked, “Kristi, are you sure?! Are you really sure this is what you want? Are you sure you can do this?”

I was sure. I was confident. I was overly confident, but I needed that over confidence and naivety, because had I known what I was actually getting myself into, I may have skipped this house and moved on to something else.

Our plan was to pay off the house much faster than we did, but we also didn’t have realistic expectations of just how much it would cost to redo the house. So while we didn’t finance very much, and we thought that we’d be making double and triple and quadruple payments each month to get it paid off in just a few years, that didn’t really work out.

Let’s just say that we were so thankful for our tiny $320/month mortgage payments, because that allowed us to put more money monthly towards remodeling the house. (Try finding a rental for $320/month! 😀 )

The house had great bones, but aesthetically, it was in pretty rough shape. All of the rooms had to be taken down to the studs and ceiling joists, and three areas had to be taken down to floor joists as well. It needed a new roof, new HVAC system (it only had an old furnace and window unit air conditioners), all new electrical, all new drywall, new flooring in some rooms, all new windows, window and door trim, new siding, and the list goes on and on.

But from the very beginning, we were determined that we wouldn’t go into debt doing projects on the house. No matter what room or what project I was working on, we paid for it in cash as we went. That made some projects take longer than we expected, but on the big projects, it also made it more doable.

The very first big remodel I did in this house was the kitchen.

I did that entire remodel for $10,000. At the time, that amount of money was an absolute fortune for us, and had we hired a contractor and had to pay that amount (or half that amount) up front, there’s now way we could have afforded it.

But I did the whole remodel myself (with some help here and there from family members) over the course of seven months. So spreading out $10,000 over seven months made things kind of tight for us at the time, but it was doable.

I’m not going to say that it wasn’t challenging living through the construction for so long, but once I got all of the main “public” rooms of the house finished, life seemed to get a whole lot easier and much more pleasant for us.

Once the construction was only being done in areas that could be hidden behind closed doors, while the main areas of the house could be comfortably used and lived in, the house really began to feel like home for us.

So looking back, those challenges paid off. Living for a few years through construction, inconvenience, DIYing, and paying as we went along, remaining committed to not taking on any more debt to fix up the house, has been worth it. Because now, here we are nine-and-a-half years later, with a beautiful (to us) home that is nearly complete on the (current) inside, and that we own. No more mortgage payments…EVER!!

If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. I’d still buy the cheap 70-year-old fixer upper, live with the tiny mortgage payment, put that extra money that would have gone into a higher mortgage or rent payment towards gradually fixing up that fixer upper with my own blood, sweat and tears, make extra mortgage payments when the opportunity arose, and have a beautiful home and be mortgage free in less than 10 years.

Now don’t get me wrong. When I scroll through Instagram and I see these people building their large, sprawling 6000+-square-foot houses with their four-car garages with all of the latest finishes, do I find myself longing for that? Yes, but it only lasts a few seconds. Because it only takes a few seconds for me to look up from my phone, look around my house and what my own two hands have created, and be thankful for my relatively modest but beautiful home. And now it’s a modest but beautiful home that we own. That freedom is exactly what I’ve been working so hard towards these last nine-and-a-half years.



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    1. Yes that’s so true! I love Dave and we also paid off house early … it was best decision ever. With the “who knows what kind of financial distress is ahead of us” we are currently undergoing in the US. Its a good idea for everyone to do just that….!

  1. Congratulations, that is a fabulous accomplishment!! And I imagine that even if you had bought a ‘turn key’ home you would have wanted to change so many things that you still would have lived with construction to make it your own 🙂

  2. Congratulations!! It is a wonderful feeling! Coming from someone that has lived (and do now) in the big beautiful 4000sq ft house, a cozy modest house is what I prefer!! Big houses just cost money to furnish, heat, cool etc! And take so much time to clean and maintain!! Things people don’t think about. 🙁

  3. Awesome accomplishment — not just paying off the house, but paying cash for all improvements, all the DIY projects, and the beautiful, beautiful result. You two have made awesome accomplishments!!

  4. CONGRATULATIONS! That is a major accomplishment that most people only achieve after many years of mortgage payments with added interest. And the satisfaction of doing it yourself, getting it just like you want it, is priceless. Now you can spend the next 30 years using your own money for even better things, like finishing the house, and fun outings with Matt. Time is precious and we never know how much more we have with our loved ones. Once again, a great big CONGRATULATIONS to you both!

  5. CONGRATULATIONS!! What a huge achievement! That feeling of OWNING your house fully is amazing. I’ve done it once but it took us 20 years and you did it in under 10! That is phenomenal! You indeed have turned your ugly duckling into very beautiful home. You have much to be proud of and I sincerely hope you and Matt take time to celebrate such an achievement.

  6. Your vision and efforts have brought about amazing results. Thank you for allowing us to travel on this journey with you. I have liked the fact that you have given us flashbacks along the way.

  7. CONGRATULATIONS on paying off your house! You should be “giddy and excited” for accomplishing so much in less than 10 years! We have been working on paying off our house as well, so we are not too far behind you. Enjoy that feeling of total freedom!

  8. Congratulations! That is wonderful news. Very good plan and you stuck to it. Your home is beautiful. Just keep coming up with creative ideas and you will be building on soon enough. Get your studio finished, the bathroom redone, and take a week off to breathe. Then start on the next project! By the way, did you do a mock up of the wallpaper in the studio with the cabinets in place? I think if you do that, you won’t need to redo the wallpaper. I’d like to see that picture. Have a blessed day.

  9. It’s wonderful that you have reached this milestone! Be proud.
    To your studio, I follow someone that bought bookcases from IKEA and she refinished them. She used Biz primer and it stuck very well to their finish. I can find out exactly which primer, she posted it. Then she used SW Emerald paint tinted to a Farrow and Ball paint. She rolled the paint on. I jumped for joy thinking of your studio. Have you considered parrot green for your cabinets? I think that color would wow you from your kitchen.
    So proud for you!!!!

  10. I admire you both and what you have accomplished together. And you will forever be my DIY HERO!
    May God Bless you both.

  11. Congratulations! Nothing like financial freedom, especially in these times! I’ve watched your projects with this house for a while and have been inspired by it all! I just wish I had your vision and confidence! Your house is beautiful!

  12. Kristi…..I don’t comment often but you inspire me more than you know and I’m dying to do the same in this “empty phase” stage of my life! I love your use of color and your “I can do this” attitude! Bravo!

    1. I’m jumping up and down excited for you!!!! From a selfish standpoint, if you had bought a turn key house, imagine how much less inspiring it would be. I just am so impressed with your skills and abilities. I’m so glad we got to watch what you turned your home into.

  13. You are so talented, and your journey that you allowed us to watch is very inspiring! I know you will enjoy every inch of your house because of the work of your hands. So happy for you and keep going! Keep sharing! Thank you!

  14. Congrats!! Someone said earlier that a bigger house requires more heat, a/c, maintenance, and cleaning and they are sure correct. It’s most easier to have less stuff in the house too.

  15. Its stunningly beautiful now and you know you did it yourself and you know the quality of the work. Congratulations on being mortgage free, a dream many people never achieve. What a great thing to do!

  16. It is a remarkable almost surreal feeling when your house is paid off. Mine has been paid off for some time and so has my vehicle meaning I just have utilities + the taxes etc. It is a very freeing existence. ENJOY!!!!!

  17. Wow! Congratulations!! Such an accomplishment – not just to pay it off but to do so with all the beautiful renovations you’ve done!

  18. CONGRATULATIONS, KRISTI!! An amazing transformation by a woman with amazing skills and perseverance! You have to be so proud!!

  19. Congratulations! You guys are so smart with your plans, and financial goals. What wonderful news. And, your home in all it’s glory now is totally yours! The value is now much more, and it is all yours! I’m so happy for you, and now you can plot and plan the last projects that you have… and you KNOW we will all be here watching – and enjoying your ideas and posts. Thanks Kristi, and enjoy that mortgage burning!

  20. CONGRATULATIONS! I know the FREE from Mortgage feeling and it’s wonderful. I’ve done it 4 times myself! Once for my own home and three times for rentals since 1976. Of course I had a very handy husband and talented friends to help with the remodeling jobs. NOTHING was turn-key when we bought it. I made money on them in rent and now again in selling. I was also very blessed to be hired for a medical job outside of nursing that was a significant income boost. Nurses and cops are not on the top tiers of income but judicious use of resources and shopping sales makes a big difference. Managed to put 2 girls thru college during our remodeling adventures. I am is such awe of what you have done by yourself!!!
    The Lord takes cares of us if we let him.

  21. Congratulations!! What an accomplishment! Every time I see the before and after photos I am blown away. I am very happy for you.

  22. CONGRATULATIONS! My son has also paid off his house in just under 10 years, and I know how freeing it is for him. Unfortunately, I still am making payments on my house, but one day… 😊

  23. You truly turned this most ugly duckling into an exquisite swan. I don’t know if many of us would have had your artistic vision and temerity and the resolve to tackle so many projects yourself. I’m in complete awe of your talents and fearlessness. Thank you for allowing us to share in this wondrous adventure. I have learned so much from following along.

  24. No good words come to mind to express my happiness for both of you! I have followed you from the condo to here. You have inspired me and so many others with your ideas and the thought and work that goes into every thing you take on. A BIG congratulations!🎈

  25. Such an inspiration! I’ve been following you since the condo days and am so impressed with what you’ve been able to do. Way to go! I hope you will celebrate this milestone.

  26. Congratulations! I have been following your progress along the way and have enjoyed every minute. I love following your creative process. Your colorful style is not what I would choose for my home, nor is all the farmhouse stuff we are seeing out there, but I love your explanations of the process you use and your step-by-step guidance. I wish I had your depth of knowledge, your skills, and your determination! Enjoy your freedom from house payments!

  27. CONGRATULATIONS!!! You’ve done such a beautiful job and are so inspiring!!! Thanks for sharing with all of us!

  28. Absolutely beautiful!! I started following you right after you bought the house and have thoroughly enjoyed every project you have done. I am inspired to do some projects in my own house!!

  29. Hi Christie –
    I’m curious how you both decided renovation priorities. You said the kitchen was first – why? What about other rooms?

  30. Congrats! A major accomplishment for anyone, and most never see this day! On our 1st house, we were three years away from the end of a 30 yr. mortgage when we decided to move to a new build. Why? Because we had remodeled that house so many times over the 27 years, and still it was not giving us what we desired. We were in that precarious spot of overbuilding for the neighborhood. Adding on would have cost so much, and the area was showing hints of losing equity. We either could live with it as is, or move on, so we decided to move on. There was no hold for us there, our friends had all moved away.
    Had we been in your situation, it would have been the same choice you made. Good on you!

  31. I wanted to add – keep up with insurance payments!!! My Mom accidentally let hers lapse when her house was paid off, not remembering that it had been included in her house payment! She didn’t figure it out for about nine months, and it cost her a lot to get new insurance started up.

  32. Congratulations!! You are mortgage free and you have a stunning home! You are such an inspiration to me and so many others. Thank you for sharing your home and creativity with us!

  33. Congratulations Kristi . You should be very proud of all your accomplishments. No debt is the best feeling to be in.

  34. Congratulations! That is such an amazing feeling! so so happy for yall! And not better time than now to be debt free!!

  35. That really brought a smile to my face! Congratulations to both of you, for your maturity, patience and perseverance! It’s not easy living in a construction zone, for sure!

  36. Congratulations on an amazing milestone most homeowners never hit! My husband fistbumped me when I told him one of my blog people just paid off her home. NICE.

  37. It really has been an amazing transformation to watch as you puttered away, Kristi!
    And it’s absolutely beautiful!

    I always wonder if any of your neighbors (who were there when you bought the house) have commented or asked to see inside?!? I think they have to be curious – and if they’ve been inside, amazed!!!

    I agree with you on buying a fixer-upper – saving ALL THAT MONEY on a mortgage payment! Some people stretch themselves so thin, they can hardly afford the homes they purchase these days – it’s all for show or “keeping up with the Joneses, which is totally ridiculous!

    Anxious to see what’s down the road for your home & the outside area!

  38. Congratulations to you and Matt. That’s an awesome accomplishment and you now own a gorgeous home – you must both be so proud. Thanks for bringing us along on your journey!

  39. I probably shouldn’t think this way, but I also really like that you saved this house and made it an asset to the community. Pretty amazing how far you have taken this sad little home. It is just gorgeous!

  40. I’ve followed you for years and rarely commented—if at all, I can’t remember. But I’ve always been so impressed with your vision and determination, so I am celebrating with you! Not having a mortgage is such a liberating feeling!! And you have surely worked hard for it and met goals you set for yourself. Your house and skills are enviable. I’ve loved watching your journey. Cheers!

  41. CONGRATULATIONS, Kristi and Matt!!! The drive to make the vision work out is mind-blowing. HOW. COOL!!! Even with the gym and studio, and backyard still in the works – look at how much you guys have in spending now. Brought a smile to my face while I read your post.

  42. Congratulations Kristi! That’s an awesome achievement! We currently live in our 2nd paid off home and its thrilling to own your home outright. Just wish mine was as beautiful as yours❤️

  43. Congratulations, Kristi and Matt! What a wonderful achievement! Your home is singularly beautiful and… it truly is ALL YOURS!

  44. Congratulations , Kristi! It is, indeed, a blessing not to have a monthly mortgage payment!

    I’m looking forward to the studio completion and the new addition! I know it will all be as fabulous as what you have already achieved!

  45. I’m so happy for you and Matt! Congratulations on becoming debt free – there is no better feeling!

    You have created such a lovely home and to be able to look around to see what your own two hands have accomplished, should make you feel so proud of yourself! 🙂

  46. Kristi, you and Matt are amazing and are to be commended!! While mine and your decorating taste differ many times, I thoroughly enjoy watching you and all your accomplishments. You are quite a lady!!

  47. Congrats! Why don’t you get it appraised and get today’s value based on your wonderful hard work.? I bet you would feel great all over again.

  48. Congratulations! It’s been so fun watching you transform your home into the beauty that she is. I am looking forward to watching transform the rest of it!

  49. Wow your transformations are inspiring. You really did turn this home into a gem. I like that you show a realistic time line and not I finished this giant project in 1 day

  50. I think it’s awesome you’ve paid it off! Congratulations! Again, I’m pretty new to your blog, but I look forward to it every day. Your style is quite different from mine, but I totally respect yours and love how DIY you are. I thought I was but you make me look like a novice. Anyway, congratulations again! And keep being yourself!!! It’s refreshing. I could gag on the grey tones that have dominated the catalogs the past few years!

  51. I can’t tell you how much I admire what you and your husband have accomplished. First off congrats on being debt free! Using your God given talents to make your home a show place was no easy feat as we that have followed you all these years can attest to. We have lived a part of your life with you and from someone that had a crew to help her restore and remodel 5 vintage homes you have to love doing it yourself and the living thru it shows God is definitely on your side. You and all of us have to “finish” this home! That will never happen but we will stick with you thru thick and thin. Thank you for sharing you life and your wonderful talents of writing, and decorating with all of us and let’s see the finished gym!

  52. YES!!! How exciting!! Congratulations Kristi and Matt! I’ve been following you since the condo days, and I can’t believe you’ve been here for almost ten years! You are SUCH an inspiration to me, and Ive learned so much through you. I hope we will get to pay our home off early, but right now we’re working on paying for fix-it projects out of pocket.

  53. What a beautiful job you did renovating your newly paid-off home! You should be so proud of the amazing job you did! Congratulations!

  54. What an accomplishment! Such a freeing feeling!
    I wanted to let you know about a product, I just got word of, that retreves your info from any hard drive. It’s called Zilkee…..zilkee.com. Hope this helps you get your files back. It had a 90% 5stars rating. @$60.00 it might be worth getting it.