We’re Debt Free!

I knew already that I wanted to be Ellie.

My love for this name stems from childhood. My mom and I shared the same initials, LMA, which she always said sounded like “Elly May” (the blonde from The Beverly Hillbillies) when pronounced out loud.

However, I had no idea for a last name. Recently acquiring a new last name a few months before, I wanted the initial to be the same. I looked up last names that start with M and came across Mondelli, which basically contained the first name I had chosen. Mentally connecting “Mon” with “Money,” I went with it and became Ellie Mondelli on the spot.

Sitting at my bar with the kitchen door open on a hot August night in 2016, my new blog gained a name behind the face.

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Recap: Our Mortgage Payoff Goal
  • Goal: Finish paying off our home in two years or less.
  • Amount: $77,135.72
  • Start: September 1, 2016
  • How: Live off my income and use my husband’s income as principal payments.

Wanting to document our upcoming journey of becoming completely debt free by paying off our home in two years with complete transparency, I naively thought the blog would be a unique one.

Take a look back at my first post that announced our goal.

After all, I didn’t know anyone else striving to become debt free, let alone mortgage free.

I hoped that I would be able to help someone out there who was thinking about taking the first step to paying off their home so that they wouldn’t have to feel as secluded as I did when we set this goal.

I also wanted to showcase life in Dave Ramsey’s Baby Step 6 for people who were just starting out on his plan or who were getting restless in Baby Step 2. I hoped they could use it as motivation for their own debt-free journey.

Now I have a new life to showcase.

A life in Baby Step 7.

That’s right, guys. The Mondellis are 100% debt free, including our home!

Fast Facts: Our Journey
  • Start Date: 9/1/16
  • End date: 1/29/18.
  • 43 principal payments were made.
  • Average monthly principal paid was $4537.
  • Smallest total of principal paid in one month was $2,782.50 in November 2016.
  • Largest total of principal paid in one month was our last – $10,872.36 in January 2018.
  • Average percent of our monthly income used as mortgage principal payments was 54% (excluding the last month).

Our balance reached $6,493.32 before we decided to use our emergency fund to just pay it off and be done with it, leaving us with a little over $3,000 between our checking and sinking funds.

The big day, January 29, 2018, was not quite the glamorous day that I had envisioned while dreaming of paying off our home, considering I had taken the morning off for appointments at the gynecologist and dermatologist.

My husband was training fellow coworkers that day, so I traveled solo from my last appointment to our credit union to check on the status of the payoff request form we had filled out the Saturday before.

I waited in the lobby for about 10 minutes until I was told it would be another 30 minutes, so I drove home, ate lunch and headed back.

The paperwork was waiting for me upon my return. I signed my name to the transfer of the contents of our emergency fund to our checking account, then signed my name to the wire transfer of $7,107.68 to our mortgage lender. I was told to cancel our automatic monthly withdrawals and that I would receive the final documents in about four weeks after the lien is released.

I walked out of the credit union in a daze and called Ron to tell him he was debt free. I then called into work for the rest of the day and drove to the police department to give him a hug. I visited my mom afterward, who expressed how proud of me she is.

Heading home, I pulled the car I own into the driveway I own, alongside the front yard I own, into the carport I own, opened the door I own and stepped into the kitchen I own.

That night, I crawled into the bed I own beside my husband and had the best sleep of my life.

How does it feel?

Turn up this song as loud as you can.

Every single word is how I feel.

Fun Facts: Our Mortgage
  • Loan Amount: $90,000
  • Interest Rate: 3.375%
  • Type: Conventional
  • Term: 15 Year Fixed
  • First Payment Due Date: January 1, 2014
  • My Age at Inception: 25
  • Maturity Date: December 1, 2028
  • Payoff Date: January 29, 2018
  • My Age at Payoff: 29

Now, one week later, it’s finally starting to set in.

Ron and I decided to begin living on $2,400 per month, which is his monthly pay before overtime.

We redesigned our budget based on this amount, and I was excited to delete the line titled “Mortgage.” We also deleted several sinking funds that we feel no longer are needed now that we have no debt and are living so far below our income.

My last manicure was before our wedding in April of 2016, so I was excited to add that to the budget again. We added a line for the gun build that my husband has been looking forward to, and we added a line for clothing – something else that had been sacrificed during our journey.

Our monthly budget during those 17 months did not include my husband’s income since all of it was used as mortgage principal, and our new budget does not include the income we receive in excess of the $2400 we have decided to live on each month. The excess will be saved and used for home renovations, travel and investing.

Of all the sacrifices that were made while paying off our home, the home renovations, traveling and investing are the ones we’re most excited for now that we’re debt free. I must say though, I’m pretty happy to start getting manicures every two weeks again and to begin updating our wardrobes.

Fast Facts: Our Home
  • Original Asking Price: $120,000
  • Purchase Price: $100,000
  • Mortgage: $90,000
  • Location: East Tennessee (west of Knoxville)
  • Year Built: 1962
  • 2400 square feet
  • Bedrooms: 4
  • Bathrooms: 1 & 1/2
  • 1 Car Garage
  • 2 Car Carport
  • 1 Acre

This news brings an obvious end to a major part of my blog – my Monthly Mortgage Payoff Updates. I plan to replace these with Savings Updates instead to further shine light on what debt-free life is like.

As we begin to travel more and reach the point where we are ready to invest in our first rental property, I will share all the details.

Moving forward, I hope that you can learn from our upcoming successes and failures while we try out this new life of being 100% debt free and begin to work toward our ultimate goal – achieving financial freedom and retiring from our jobs as soon as possible.

And as always, I will be completely transparent – with the exception of my real name.

Let the adventure begin.

The Mondellis

Thank you

To my husband – there are no words beautiful enough or worthy enough to tell you how thankful I am for you. Because of you, I will never have another financial worry in my life. You have given me the security every wife longs for. You let me lead in this area of our marriage while hardly ever questioning my judgment and without complaining one single time. You are the definition of what a husband should be and are the absolute best, most life-changing thing that ever happened to me. Thank you.

And thank you all, especially the Instagram Debt Free Community, for your never-ending, selfless support throughout this entire journey. You like-minded ladies, and a few men, have provided me with more motivation and support that I have ever known, and I cannot begin to express how grateful I am for all of you. I would not have been able to stay so laser-focused and see this through to the end if it wasn’t for this amazing community that I had no idea existed. You guys are my tribe.

Lastly, I have to thank Dave Ramsey. You may not like the man or agree with his outspoken views, but if you are wanting to get out of debt, his plan is the best. Read The Total Money Makeover today. This book changed the lives of my family forever.

We paid off our mortgage in 17 months - without selling anything or taking on second jobs. Learn how. (1)

Ellie Mondelli is 29 and is now 100% debt free including her mortgage. Learn more.

Ellie Mondelli and her husband became debt free including their mortgage on January 29, 2018 after making extra principal payments for 17 months. Learn how!


42 thoughts on “We’re Debt Free!

  1. This is absolutely amazing! I am so proud of you all and look forward to the day that we can say that we are 100% debt free. We actually do not own a home yet. We are on Baby Step 2 and want to finish school and finish paying off all of our debt before we consider looking into our “forever home.” This post definitely motivated me, and I will be looking at the budget to see where I can put some of my “SPLURGE” money that I was holding on to toward debt. Thank you for sharing your journey with us, and I look forward to all of the savings and rental property updates!

  2. Congratulations! Have fun being debt free! So glad you are letting the budget lose a bit to enjoy this amazing accomplishment. You worked so hard on this goal for so long, it is good to know you are redirecting some of your funds for fun and self-care.

    I could say this a million more times, but I’ll settle for just one more: Congratulations!!! Happy debt free day!

  3. OH MY GOSH! CONGRATS! You really blew your goal out of the water. I live in Nashville, and I’m so jealous of your reasonably priced real estate out in east tn!!! Your posts have given me hope that I can pay off my place early too 🙂 thank you!

  4. This is such a great story, so inspiring! Congrats to you for attaining such an incredible goal and thanks for sharing! After reading your fast facts I’m tempted to pack up and move down to Tennessee; I can’t believe the prices of real estate in comparison to where I live (Manitoba, Canada… my house built in 1912 is 800 sq feet, no garage, and I paid over 170K for it – and that’s cheap up here) … Crazy!

  5. Congratulations! You and your husband are such an inspiration to me! My husband and I currently enjoy our separate bank accounts but we have a nice joint account where we put in the money we receive each month by renting out our basement. I am just finishing up Baby Step #3 by putting 15% of my savings into a TFSA but once completed i’ll just start putting that money towards my retirement. I really like having out extra shared income as it will be used to top myself up for Maternity leave for a year, pay for day care, and then we will be able to put the rest of that money towards principle payments on our house! I know it will be a few years before we can start putting extra towards the house but it is so nice to have a plan and be able to breathe knowing that you are on the right track! Enjoy your manicures, you deserve them!

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