Avoid some commonly held beliefs and shave years of debt

Debt free by age 40. I am on a path to be debt-free by the time I am 40. Debt-free. No home loan payments. No car payments. No credit card debt. This is a short personal story about my journey.


“Home loan debt is good debt!” At the beginning of 2014, my wife and I were looking to purchase our first house. After living in a small rental apartment for a few years, we were ready to take the next step in adulthood. Buy a freaking house. You cannot get more ‘adult’ than that. And the stakes are high. It is not merely a house. It is a place where you will raise your future children. A place you will call home. Excitement and stress levels are high. And so too is outside advice.

And advice came - and it will for you - from all corners. It will come from your great-uncle: “You know when we bought our property back in the 1500s, we paid a mere 5 shilling for our property”. “Wow, Uncle Bob. I did not know fiat money was already invented in your time. I always believed you worked on some kind of bartering system with chicken & goats”. These pieces of advice are easily dismissed as it will come from people who - let’s be honest - should really not be giving advice.

But then there is the advice that comes from people whose intellect you respect. In my case, it came from my boss. He is one of the brightest minds in the industry. This was his advice. “I hear you are looking for your first home. Home loan debt is good debt. It is the cheapest form of debt you will ever have. Thus get the biggest home loan you can afford with your salary.“

There are a lot of truths in this statement. Yet, I chose to ignore this advice.

Forks in the road of life are not evident to you at the time. Have you ever watched one of those cartoons where the main character stands at a fork in the road? Go left and meet the princess. Go right to meet Dr Evil.

Real life is not like this. There is no big sign telling you “Hey, this is a decision which will alter your future.” No. These pivotal life-changing moments are everyday events. In my case, it was a conversation with my boss. In your case, it might be one with your father or heaven-forbid a real estate agent. And you certainly do not realise that you are standing before a fork in life when they do occur. The only way to avoid making the mistake of going down a path which your boss - and most of society takes - is to make a conscious decision beforehand to be different. To be a weirdo when it comes to personal finance.

Be weird. We live in an age where bigger is better. Where more is good. We buy the biggest home we can afford and fill it with stuff. And then we go out and buy more stuff. Occasionally, we are inspired to get rid of stuff. Then we replace it with other shiny stuff. We pile on debt. Big piles of debt. Debt which makes us live paycheck-to-paycheck. Yet we tell ourselves everyone is in the same boat. And we are. Our society, our family, our friends have all boarded the Titanic. It is normal.

Yet there are the weird ones. The outsiders. The ones who choose to not lead a normal life.

Be that person. Be weird.