The Long view
Sean Cooper worked three jobs, swore off lavish trips, bought a bungalow and paid it off in three years
I grew up in the Beaches, and during university, I lived in my mother’s house rent-free. I had three part-time jobs while studying, so I was able to graduate debt-free in 2009 with money in the bank and start paying my mom $600 a month for rent. In 2010, I got a full-time job at a pension consulting firm downtown, and on weekends I worked at No Frills. I was busy all the time, but I viewed the sacrifice as short-term pain for long-term gain. In December 2014, for instance, I made almost $14,000 as a freelance finance writer, but the workload nearly killed me. Including my other jobs, I worked 100 hours a week and completed more than 70 assignments. I even missed my family’s holiday party. Meanwhile, I rarely ate out or bought clothes, and when I’d travel, it would be to Niagara Falls instead of somewhere exotic.
I started searching for a house after graduating. I looked for a detached house with a finished basement that I could rent out. I also wanted something close to transit. I’m not very handy, so I avoided fixer-uppers. I made a bunch of offers and lost each one, and was ready to give up when I found a place at Kingston and Danforth that had everything I wanted. The seller was holding back bids until an offer date, so I made a bully offer of $25,000 over asking, and the seller accepted. I had $170,000 saved, enough for 40 per cent down, which made my five-year mortgage very manageable. My mortgage payment is $3,400 a month. I moved into the basement and rented out the main floor, which fetches $1,600 a month in rent. I kept working long hours and took advantage of all possible prepayment privileges, and after three years, I had paid off the house. I held a mortgageburning party. I’ve had the same tenants for three years and have only had to do minor repairs, so things have gone very smoothly. My long-term goal is to attain a net worth of $1 million by the time I’m 35 and retire early. I guess I could have had more fun if I had taken longer to pay off my mortgage, but now I can enjoy financial freedom and travel while I’m still young. This summer, I plan to travel across western Europe. My fun had to wait, but it was worth it.