The Long view

Sean Cooper worked three jobs, swore off lav­ish trips, bought a bun­ga­low and paid it off in three years

Toronto Life - - This City -

The Back­story

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.

The Buy

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.

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