Dear Bank: It’s Not Me, It’s You

Dear Bank: It’s Not Me, It’s You

The most satisfying breakup you’ll ever have is with the bank. The day you walk into the bank and make your last mortgage payment EVER.

In my mind, I had rehearsed the breakup hundreds of times. I envisioned there would be shock, which would quickly be followed by sobbing and begging. All from the bank of course.

Our breakup had been planned years in advance. When my husband and I decided that paying off our debts, completely paying off our debts including the mortgage, was critical to us achieving financial independence.

We had meticulously crafted the details of the mortgage payoff. As with the best laid plans, there had been some setbacks and unplanned events. However even with a few obstacles, we were (for the most part) within months of the date we had originally planned to pay off the mortgage.

Breaking Up is Hard Easy to Do

In my mind, the breakup would go something like this:

ME: We need to talk. After many, many years in this relationship, it’s time we take a break. A permanent break.

THE BANK: What? What have I done?

ME: Honestly, it’s not me. It’s you.

ME: You take more than you give. You consistently take thousands of dollars each year, apply very little of it towards the principal and all you give me is a small tax write-off.

THE BANK: But everyone else loves me.

ME: No, they really don’t. But like me, they’ve been brainwashed to think that this is an example of a normal relationship. That EVERYONE MUST HAVE a mortgage.

THE BANK: But I’ll miss you.

ME: I really don’t think it’s me you’ll miss. I think you’ll miss the money I’ve been giving you through the years.

ME: In fact, you’ve been cheating on me for years. Just taking what I’m giving you and spreading it around.

THE BANK: Isn’t there something I can do to make you change your mind?

ME: No. My mind is made up.

ME: I would like a signed document verifying that I will never hear from you again. That you have no right to my home anymore. That’s its mine, all mine.

THE BANK: But can we still be friends?

ME: Of course. But from now on, I call the shots. I may give you some money every now and then, but I will tell you what to do with it. And of course, I’ll require YOU PAY ME just for the privilege of continuing our relationship.

The Actual Breakup

That scenario had played out in my mind for weeks before the actual breakup. I had built it up like a dramatic scene from The Notebook.

In actuality, the meeting between us and the bank was nothing like that.

The meeting was professional and courteous (on both sides).

There were no tears. Absolutely no crying. Not by me OR the bank.

The only thing that remotely resembled my imagination was the signed paper. A single sheet of paper that stated the mortgage had been paid in full.

In every one of my other break-ups, I’ve always had some regret. And this breakup was no exception.

There was regret. Regret that we had not paid off our mortgage sooner.

Final Thoughts

We are currently taking a financial class at our church. During one of the classes, after we watched a video about a family who had become debt free (including the mortgage), one couple mentioned that they had always considered mortgage debt as “good debt.” The leader of the class agreed. As did most, if not all, of the class members.

After some thought, I raised my hand and said that I wished someone had challenged us earlier in our lives (like when we bought our first home) to consider mortgage debt as “real debt.” And as such, we should work to pay off the mortgage just like any other debt.

It was many years into our marriage, when we were on our 4th home, that the light bulb went off. We finally realized that for us, paying off the mortgage was not only achievable, but would help us gain financial independence.

Related: Home Mortgage – The Great American Rip-off

Related: How Watching the View Saved us Over $15K

11 thoughts on “Dear Bank: It’s Not Me, It’s You”

    • Thank you Jackie. It’s weird to say, but I really do sleep better at night knowing the house is paid off!

  • Congrats on paying off your mortgage. That is a major life accomplishment. That is a good relationship to not remain friends when it has ended.

  • How about a follow- up article covering the things a person should make sure to do after paying off their mortgage. Things like the following list, which I plagiarized from some other finance blog:
    (1) Get a “Satisfaction of Mortgage Statement,” which is proof that your lender paid off the balance of your loan with your last regular payment or your bulk payment;
    (2) Make sure that your “Satisfaction of Mortgage Statement” is properly filed with your county’s Register of Deeds or Recorder of Deeds office–you may have to do this yourself;
    (3) Cancel any automatic deduction plan;
    (4) Make sure your home owners insurance and real estate taxes get paid;
    (5) Let your insurer know about your new status and recheck your home insurance, including casualty and flood insurance;
    (6) Make sure you get your escrow balance from your PITI (principal, interest, taxes and insurance) — the escrow that used to pay taxes and insurance; and
    (7) Recalculate your budget to decide what you are going to do with the money that would have gone to the mortgage.

    • That’s a great suggestion. Thanks for the feedback. I will plan on a follow-up article.

      That’s a good reminder about letting insurance know that there is no longer a lien on the home. We had a major claim several years ago (not on this house, but on a previous home where we had a mortgage). As I recall, it was a hassle dealing with the insurance and the lender. The insurance paid directly to the lender and there were a bunch of hoops to jump through to get the lender to release money to us. They would only release money in stages as repairs were completed to their satisfaction.

      It’s nice to know that if we have to make a claim on this house, we do not have the frustration of dealing with the bank as well as the repair of the home.

  • Way to go!! Knocking out the mortgage is huge!

    I also agree, and wish more people would see their mortgage as “real” debt. Because that’s exactly what it is. Also mortgage literally means “death pledge”. So there’s that too.

  • “In my mind, I had rehearsed the breakup hundreds of times. I envisioned there would be shock, which would quickly be followed by sobbing and begging. All from the bank of course.”

    A unique and humorous take on the mortgage payoff decision! Life without a housing payment is incredibly freeing – so many more opportunities are available to you with a much lower level of fixed living expenses. The misnomer of “good debt” is a terribly damaging one, as is the belief that the mortgage interest deduction makes carrying a mortgage balance a “good decision”. Congratulations on breaking the mold!

    • Thanks MrFFP. Your point about how the mortgage interest deduction is marketed to home buyers is well taken. It’s another way to justify the idea that a mortgage is “good” debt.

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