Homeownership has always been a dream of mine. I remember as a kid I would walk through different neighbourhoods and think that everyone who owned a home was rich. I thought wow; those people must be doctors and lawyers to be able to live in such a nice house. I promised myself that I would own my own place when I got older.

At 20 years old I bought my first home. By 26 I bought my second home and by 32 I paid off both mortgages. I didn’t really start to track my debt until 2009 and at that time I had just over $95,000 in debt which included one mortgage and my car loan. By the end of 2011 I paid it all off. It was a bit difficult at times to stay disciplined especially when friends would ask me to go out, and I would say no because I wanted to get rid of my mortgage. But it was definitely worth it in the end. Here are some things you can do to stay on track if you’re trying to get rid of your debt.

Budget everything

I budgeted every penny I made. I actually like budgeting so rather than doing a budget once a month; I did one every two weeks just before I got paid. Prior to starting a budget I actually wrote down every penny that I spent for an entire month. After the month, I reviewed my list of items and eliminated some of the things I was wasting money on like McDonald’s fries. I love those fries, but I didn’t realize how often I bought them before writing it down. The money I was spending on fries, I allocated to my debt.

Still have fun

I looked for free events that were happening in my city. I didn’t want to sit at home every weekend just because I wanted to get rid of my mortgage and car loan, so I would still go out if the event was free. You would be surprised how many free things take place in the city. You just have to look.

Create a group of go getters

I taught classes at my church to teach people how to pay off their mortgage. I figured since I was working my butt off to get rid of mine, why not build a team of people that wanted to do the same, so we could support one another.

Read Read & Read

I read a ton of books such as Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Make Over, Thomas Stanley’s books The Millionaire Next Door and Stop Acting Rich, Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s book Debt Free Forever and a bunch more. I also blog, belong to a personal finance forum, and read a ton of personal finance blogs for support.


I exercised a lot! After a great work out, I feel like I can conquer the world, which helped to keep me motivated. I like to try different work outs to stay motivated, so I did Insanity a couple of times and I also went to the gym.

Don’t Delay

Pay it off as fast as you can. The longer you procrastinate the harder it becomes. Make the decision to pay if off and do it.

Set mini goals

Rather than looking at $95,000, I broke it down into smaller amounts of $25,000. It’s much easier to look at $25,000 when paying off debt than it is $95,000. It also took me less than a year to pay off $25,000, at a time, which made it much more attainable. To pay off $25,000 in less than a year I doubled up my payments and made a bunch of lump sum payments throughout the year. On average I paid $2900 a month to get rid of both my car loan and mortgage.


Have mini celebrations after each milestone. My milestones were $25,000, but you can make yours whatever you choose to make the pay off easier.


Focus on not having debt versus all of the debt you have. The more you focus on not having debt, the more you’ll sacrifice to get rid of it.

Forget about the naysayers

Ignore the naysayers. There will always be people who will put you down, so surround yourself with people that believe in you. What are your favorite tricks to stay motivated to pay off your debt?

By Shondell Clark