In November 2018, hubby and I finally paid off a six-figure mortgage to the lender a little less than three years after we purchased our first home.
We still owe Mr. FAF’s side of the family $36,000, which will take us another six months or until mid-2019 to pay off.
However, we will hold on to that money at Mr. FAF’s family’s request due to the depreciating Chinese currency.
Lily at The Frugal Gene eagerly asked me the question we’ve long thought about: What’s next?
What will we do after living so frugally for years to get rid of that mortgage balance?
Hubby and I do have a plan. And today, I will share it with you.
1. Save up $36,000 and put it in a money market account
This is straightforward enough. We will save up the money to pay back Mr. FAF’s family when they are ready to receive it.
We will put this money in a money market account to earn some interest on it.
If everything goes well, we will be able to save this amount in mid-2019.
2. Up our emergency fund to $25,000
After we paid off our mortgage, our monthly expenses have decreased by about $1,000 (we still have to pay property taxes and home insurance).
It means that we will need less money each month to live on.
However, we will start sending Baby F2 to daycare in mid-March when my FIL goes back to China, so they will just even out. I want to have an emergency fund of about $25,000 or more this year.
3. Make improvement to our house
Our house was built in 1975. Although it has a good structure, the house also comes with some not so pleasant quirks.
For example, the laminated floor on our first floor and the carpeted floor on the second floor squeak really loudly when we walk on them. At night, we can hear each other walking in different rooms. If we are on the first floor, we can definitely tell when someone is walking on the second floor. When we are in the basement, we also hear the noise from the first floor.
When we had the long Christmas weekend, Mr. FAF and my father-in-law (FIL) pulled up the carpet on the second floor to fasten all the nails in the sub floor. The project was a big success.
Mr. FAF told me he waited this long to fix the floor since he thought it’d cost us thousands of dollars. He had actually contacted some contractors to do the work and did some research himself. But the contractors didn’t want to undertake this project, so Mr. FAF took the matter in his own hands.
We also fixed the broken blinds for the windows on our first floor and bought a nice floor lamp to brighten up the living room. One time we went to our neighbor’s house and saw how nicely decorated their house was. However, we wanted to put our disposable income towards the mortgage and decided to just live with the not so bright light.
When we first bought our home, we went to Home Depot quite often to buy tools and gadgets to fix broken things in the house. However, our most frequented place now is Ikea, a store we previously considered to be too expensive for us since we used to get our furniture from the curb side and Bob’s discount furniture. Mr. FAF had been dreaming about a bunk bed in his study room, so he got one for less than $300.
We are aware of lifestyle inflation and definitely don’t want to squander all of our disposable income on home decor and furniture. But after delaying all the improvement projects for years, we want to put part of our income towards improving our life quality by making small changes to our house.
4. Build a 2nd house fund
Mr. FAF and I do want to buy another house as an investment. After taking care of #1-3, we will start stashing our cash away in a money market account and wait for the right opportunity to purchase a second home either to move into or to rent out.
We keep hearing that a recession is coming either in late 2019 or early 2020. That means two things. First, housing prices will likely go down. Second, both or either of us might lose our jobs.
If we know for sure that we can keep our jobs and can find a good house at a reasonable price, we might purchase it. All we need to do right now is just work hard, live frugally, and save up as much cash as we can for a down payment.
5. Roth IRA, 529, etc.
Together with all the plans above, I’ve also thought a lot about tax-advantaged accounts such as Roth IRA and 529. I’ve brought it up to Mr. FAF a couple of times, but he kept saying we should wait until we at least save up $36,000 and have $25,000 in our emergency account.
I also want to look into brokerage accounts, but at least I want to start investing in our Roth IRA and 529 accounts in the near future. And of course, I will need to convince Mr. FAF to do that first.
6. Give back to family & community
Now that hubby and I are debt free, I also want to give back to our family since they are the ones who have supported us all those years. For me, it means my grandparents, parents, my sister, my aunts, uncles, and cousins. All of them have made important contributions to who I am today.
Hubby and I plan to travel to Vietnam in the summer of 2019. We will buy my family gifts and let Baby F1 and Baby F2 meet their Vietnamese side of the family. I gave my sister $5,000 for her wedding and $2,000 as a wedding gift. We will do the same for Mr. FAF’s side of the family if need be.
I do believe in giving back to our community. However, I also think that our community starts with the people who are the closest to us, which is our immediate and extended family.
In the future, as we build our wealth, we will also try to reach out to others who are in need. This is a wonderful feeling to know that what we offer can be of great help to others around us. It feels so much better to me than buying an expensive pair of shoes or buying things I don’t really need.
Related: 4 Reasons Why I Buy Cheap Clothes
Paying off the mortgage has made us feel so free in our choices in the future. We don’t have to worry about setting aside a fixed amount of money each month to cover our mortgage.
In tough times, we can try to cut our spending, knowing that whatever happens, we will still have a roof over our head. When things go well, however, we will have disposable income to put towards anything we prioritize at the time whether it’s traveling, investing in Roth IRA, or giving back to our family.
The plans I listed above might change. But those are the things that we at least want to aim for in the future.