How we are going to pay our mortgage off in 10-15 years instead of 30

Mortgage image

We have what I think is a big mortgage.  We live in Christchurch where the cost of housing has increased since the earthquakes and we bought our home (our first home) 3 years ago.  We used a mortgage broker and thought we were getting the best deal possible on our interest rate.  The mortgage broker was very helpful in sorting out our mortgage for us but of course they are paid by the banks who want to ensure they make a profit!

We borrowed as much as we could when we bought our house and we have increased our mortgage since then (with the value of our home going up) in order to do some renovations (second bathroom, we currently have one bathroom and 9 people in our home).

Last year we went to the Christchurch Home Show to get some home renovation ideas.  We passed by a booth run by Equitus and were ‘accosted’ by Linda who asked us if we had a mortgage and if we’d like to save money on our mortgage.  We both laughed and said we didn’t think that was possible, we stuck to a strict budget and were paying as much as we could afford to our mortgage as well as having good interest rates.  Linda said she thought it was possible that Equitus could help us to pay off our mortgage much more quickly than we we agreed that Linda could contact us and tell us more about what Equitus could do for us.

The rest of the home show was unfortunately a waste of time for us.  We felt that it was a waste of $20 and our afternoon, although we did joke that ‘if this Equitus is not a scam is could be the best $20 we’ve ever spent’.

Several months later we met with Equitus (still believing that ‘if something sounds too good to be true it usually is’) and agreed to look into it further after Linda told us she could cut years off our mortgage and over $100,000 in repayments.

Without having to increase our mortgage repayments at all and without having to increase savings or change anything to do with our finances (except for increasing our credit card limit) our mortgage will be paid off within 10-15 years instead of 25-30 years.  It is all about how our mortgage is structured and off-setting interest.

We decided to take up the services of Equitus and they arranged for our mortgage to be restructured (this will happen regularly) and they are working with us to help us pay off our mortgage as quickly as possible (for our family).
Equitus work for us, not the bank or anyone else so obviously have our best interests at heart.  This means that we pay Equitus a fee, but it is very minimal considering the amount of money we will save with their help.  We could not have done it without them.  Kris had researched methods for paying off mortgages more quickly but wasn’t able to figure it out.

Our mortgage is still through our bank so we are not putting all our money into Equitus hands, and since they are paid by us they have our best interests at heart, rather than the bank’s interests.

If you have a mortgage and would like to look into ways to pay it off more quickly and saving yourself a lot of money, I would highly recommend them.   We are so excited at the possibilities that have opened up for us because of this.  We will be in our 40’s instead of our 50’s or 60’s when we pay off our mortgage!

Check out the Equitus website for more info.  Linda from Equitus says, “We offer people a free consultation and a free analysis of their mortgage facts so that they make a fair comparison  between these  and what a restructure would look like.  If people opt for what we provide, our service objective is to monitor the mortgage maths, manage the  mortgage exiting planning through time and circumstance and mentor  our client’s success.”

Equitus have a referral bonus ($200 in petrol or grocery vouchers) which we would receive when someone we’ve referred to them becomes a client..  Please give our names when you get in touch with them (Kris and Louise Morrison) so we get this bonus!  It’s not much but would be a lovely boost for us.  If you’d rather we pass on your details to them and have them contact you please let me know.  Ultimately though I am not sharing this so we get a bonus, it is because I am so excited at the savings we are going to make, how much more quickly we will pay off our mortgage and the fact that we have so much more control over our finances and future and I’d love to see more people making their mortgages work better for them.

Disclaimer:  I was not asked to write this post, nor am I being paid by Equitus for writing this.  This is simply me sharing what we’ve found to be an excellent company who are going to save us over $100,000.

Is living on a double income a choice?

This week I read an article about a family whose two children are in daycare for up to 11 hours each day so both parents can work and continue progressing in their careers.

I think its so sad that people feel they have no choice but to work and put their kids in daycare.

I have heard people say that they would love to stay at home but they just don’t have the option.
I disagree. In most cases (there are always exceptions) there is a choice, and that choice to work is due to the choice to live a certain lifestyle.

It all comes down to priorities and ours have always been for me to stay at home with our children. This has meant we have always lived on one income (I have occasionally worked part-time around my husband’s hours).   We’ve chosen to be our children’s primary caregivers.

This has meant that at times our finances have been extremely tight (very difficult), we have lived without a car, we lived in a 3 bedroom house with 5 children, packed in like sardines!

We buy second hand clothes, only buy new items on sale (after a lot of research/deliberation).
For many years we could not save even $5 each week, we would look forward to our tax refund so we could pay off our credit card. I am so thankful that our (single) income has risen so we now have wiggle room in our budget.

I would love to be able to buy cute outfits for my children instead of going through boxes of hand-me-downs and my kids having to wear whatever is in their closet.  We do often buy them new clothing for birthdays or Christmas but in general they just wear what we have or what we’re given.

I would love to take my family for an overseas holiday.  My sister lives on the Gold Coast and I would love to take my kids over to visit their cousins and see where they live, but we can’t afford any overseas trips (even getting up to Gisborne to my parents for Christmas last year blew out our holidays budget).

I notice the family in the article have two vehicles.  We only recently bought a second vehicle after over 15 years of only owning one vehicle (and for several years we had no car. My husband rode his bike to work or took the bus.  Living out of town (too far to bike or not on a bus route) was not an option for us and as we’ve moved house several times we’ve always chosen to live within walking distance of schools and on the main bus route.  Travelling long distances to work costs a lot of money and time.  Time together as a family is very important to us.

I could go on and on about how we’ve managed to live on a very small income in ways that enable us to spend the maximum amount of time together as a family.

It is definitely a lifestyle choice.  We’ve chosen a lifestyle where family is the most important and I believe this is possible for most families.  I am not against people making different choices to us, but I have to disagree when they say they have no choice but to have both partners working and their very young children in full time daycare.

Saving on school stationery

Where do you shop for school stationery?

We generally always go to Warehouse Stationery because they are definitely the cheapest and they offer a cashback to our school (any school you choose although you must give the school name when at the checkout as they don’t ask you and once you’ve paid it’s too late).  They also say that if you find the same product elsewhere for a lower price, they will meet that price and take an extra 20% off.

I also purchased some stationery through Office Max as my daughter’s high school has their stationery lists automatically come up online with Office Max so all I need to do is choose the correct year and subjects and all the stationery is added to the shopping cart automatically. I then go through and delete off all the items which we don’t need (eg. a calculator as we already have one). If you spend a certain amount the shipping is free. I wasn’t going to spend enough for free shipping in that order so added a couple of extra books from my other childrens lists in order to get the free shipping, and then I purchased everything else my kids need from Warehouse Stationery.
I have decided that I will get everything from Warehouse Stationery next time due to the lower prices, even though Office Max offers a very quick and stress free shopping experience!

I am always amazed that people choose to shop for school stationery at bookshops like Whitcoulls and Paper Plus as their range seems so small and the prices are much more expensive.

Likewise I am amazed at how people buy all brand new pencil cases, school bags, lunch boxes and stationery items which could easily be used again such as clear files, folders, books which only have a couple of pages used and other supplies.

My tips for saving on school stationery:
1. Sort through school stationery from the year before and empty out clear files, ring binders, pencil cases to find out which items can be used again.
2. Wash school bags and book bags to refresh and brighten them up ready for the new year, sharpen old pencils and colouring pencils.
3. Rip out used pages from barely-used exercise books and use these books again.
4. Only buy new pens, pencils, rubbers, rulers, colouring pencils etc if you need them (these are the sorts of items I often add to my kids Christmas stockings).
5. Don’t buy coverseal – I never buy coverseal, it really is an unnecessary expense. Yes my kids books may be dog-earred and worn out at the end of the year but that is how it should be!
6. Purchase some book labels so you can easily stick a new label over an old one when re-using an old book, binder or clearfile.
7. Go through your stationery lists at home finding all the items you already have at home which can be used. Cross these off your list before you go shopping for new items.
8. Stick to your list, don’t be swayed by all sorts of bits and pieces your kids want but don’t need.
9. Shop for stationery as close to school going back as possible as the prices drop the closer the school starting dates.
10.  Buy generic brands of items where possible.  Most schools specify particular brands for example good quality HB pencils, pens and glue sticks as these items work better than the generic alternative, but most exercise books and items like rulers, clearfiles, ringbinders are perfectly good alternatives to the more expensive brands.

Happy Shopping everyone!  And remember if shopping at Warehouse Stationery make sure you give your school’s name when at the check out (before paying as they will not ask you about this) to make sure your school gets it’s cashback.

Ripped off at the Op-Shop

I’ve been blown away by the exhorbitant prices that Op Shops charge recently.
this week I went looking for clothing to use as costumes for a dress up party we’re going to tonight and I just think it is wrong to charge $3 for a stained white polo shirt and $5 for a crappy 70’s jacket.

I know Op Shops are charities but it often seems as though they are more into making money than helping people buy clothes cheaply. I remember years ago wanting to buy some singlets for my eldest who must have been about 6 at the time, I had $2 and had picked up 7 singlets. They wanted to charge me $1 per singlet (I was expecting about 20c per singlet) so I had to put 5 of them back. One of the ladies working there was inclined to give them all to me for $2 but the other lady was determined that they would stick to the $1 each and they had a little argument at the counter but the mean lady won.

So yesterday I bought a pair of old white trousers and a stained nasty white polo shirt for Kris (cricketer) for $3 each, a good quality but ugly shirt for myself for $3 and passed the $5 jacket (I am going as Indiana Jones).

I was reluctant to pay $3 for the stained shirt but wanted to grab something quickly as I had wasted enough of my time searching through racks of clothing. Perhaps I should have haggled to bring the price down but after I was told the price of $5 for the jacket I made a point of saying I thought that was too expensive and put it back on the rack and the lady didn’t say anything (I was hoping she’d say she’d just make it $10 for the lot – which I still think is a rip-off but would have paid).

At another Op Shop I bought a pair of 3/4 pants for myself for $5 to complete my costume but these ones I will actually wear again (Jean Jones – a style I have had before so was happy to pay $5, plus they are in great condition), unlike the other items which will be thrown out after the costume party.

I spent sobyme time in Save Mart the other day too and once again was shocked their prices. I have friends who buy neat clothes from Save Mart and Op Shops and I get all inspired to go in and browse the racks looking for a bargain but more often than not I come away disappointed having been unable to find anything, or having been unwilling to pay the prices they are asking. Give me a $5 fill a bag at the Op Shop and I will be happy.

Finances on Friday

I feel like I haven’t had a great week financially although I got a few good deals. We are totally behind with our grocery spending (ie we have overspent) and now have $36 in our account to last until next Friday (payday).

We’ve had a number of one-off expenses this week such as school photos, youth group camps, ferry booking for our Christmas trip to my parents, clothing, shoes, dentist, a birthday party, a housewarming party…yikes! I think that’s about it. Most of these expenses we have budgeted for but others have to come out of our weekly general/grocery budget.

I have sold a couple of things this week ($20) and have listed some other things on Trademe so hopefully they’ll sell soon. I am listing more items today.
Earnings $20

I did make some great savings when I found a shoe shop closing down sale with some cheap new Clarks school shoes ($25-30 a pair) for sale on Trademe and I bought 4 pairs for the kids, plus a pair of shoes for Kris ($42). This was a large expense but a huge saving when you consider these shoes cost around $100 a pair new. With postage the total I paid was $165.50
Savings: $334.50

I booked the Interisland Ferry sailings for our trip up to Gisborne this Christmas. It will be our first time up there in 4 years (we aim to go every second year but since buying our house have had other expenses so have not been for the past 3 years).
The cheapest sailings had already sold out and there were only a couple of the mid-range sailings to choose from (one of them a 2.30am sailing so we are going to drive through the night to get to that one – at least we’ll save on accommodation!!).
I noticed an ad for 10% off ferry bookings with a Top10 Club membership. The club membership is $49 and lasts for 2 years.
Our ferry booking was $806.00 and the 10% discount $80.60 minus the $49 membership = $31.60 but potentially we will save a lot more as the 10% discount applies to all services on board the ferry (movies, food etc) as well as lots of other member benefits like accommodation etc for the next 2 years!
Savings $31.60 +

I bought a platter at Farmers for the housewarming party gift. It was $10 down from $40. I then baked a Lemon Torte (sounds fancy but is actually simple and cheap) and took it on the platter to the party.
Savings $30

I can’t say I saved money on the birthday party. We did think about going to Inflatable World but decided the swimming pool was cheaper. We bought Pizza for dinner and had Minecraft Cake and ice-cream for dessert. The boys had lots of fun so I think it went down well. I was really pleased with the Minecraft cake I made – and it was a pretty cheap cake to make – couple of packets of jelly, rice-bubble slice and Dana’s Chocolate Cake (Desitute Gourmet – the best choc cake ever).

Minecraft Cake

I didn’t choose individual photos for the kids this year but instead a “Duo photo” which is a class photo with an individual photo next to it, laminated. They were $22 each and the packs with individual photos and class photos were $25 each (discounted from $28) so not a huge saving. I only chose a couple of the sports photos (my kids are involved in lots of teams/groups so were in lots of photos but I picked the two which were the nicest photos and the teams they had the most involvement with).
Savings $9+

Top 10 Club savings (and Interislander Ferry discounts)

Are you a Top 10 Club member? Membership gives you 10% off your ferry bookings and 10% off all onboard services meaning it could be a worthwhile investment, more so if you travel across the Strait often.

This week I booked the Interisland Ferry sailings for our trip up to Gisborne this Christmas. It will be our first time up there in 4 years (we aim to go every second year but since buying our house have had other expenses so have not been for the past 3 years).

The cheapest sailings had already sold out and there were only a couple of the mid-range sailings to choose from (one of them a 2.30am sailing so we are going to drive through the night to get to that one – at least we’ll save on accommodation!!).

I noticed an ad for 10% off ferry bookings with a Top 10 Club membership. The club membership is $49 and lasts for 2 years.

Our ferry booking (return) was $806.00 and the 10% discount $80.60. The Top 10 Club membership was $49 giving a savings of $31.60 but potentially we will save a lot more as the 10% discount applies to all services on board the ferry (movies, food etc) as well as lots of other member benefits like accommodation etc for the next 2 years!

You use the Promo code: top10club1 when entering your details for booking with Interislander.  It asks for your membership number which will be e-mailed to you immediately upon payment on the Top 10 site.  I was able to become a member on the Top 10 site in less than a minute while I was part way through my Interisland booking and enter the membership number straight away.
My membership card arrived in the mail two days later (you need to present your card at the Ferry Terminal when checking in).

In the past we haven’t spent much onboard the ferry but have let our older girls watch a movie one-way and bought hot chips for the smaller kids so we’ll probably do that again this time (only one way since the other is the middle of the night). So the 10% discount will save us a little while on board.

If you sign up for newsletters from the Interislander they will notify you of sales and discounts (usually for the school holidays and around a 20% discount) so it’s worth signing up for that.

As for the accommodation, I am not sure if we would save much by staying at a Top 10 Holiday Park as I have found them to be more expensive than other accommodation (for our size family) and we don’t want to take bedding with us as we won’t have much room.

When looking at accommodation I have found it will be cheaper for us to use our Entertainment Book discount on a motel than the Top 10 Club discount at a Top 10 Holiday Park.

Finances on Friday

Each Friday I plan to post a few ideas of what I did to save money this week.

I gave my son a haircut with the clippers.
These clippers were cheap and have lasted over 15 years now so definitely a worth-while investment.  I do a #7 on top and #4 on the back and sides.  About once a year I get his hair cut at the hairdresser (as with all my children – usually at the start of summer, just before Christmas) which costs $15 per haircut.
My eldest daughter cut her own hair this week!  She’s been desperate to go to the hairdresser but I haven’t had time to get her there (or spare $$).  She did a great job cutting it herself!  Savings $30

I made three big batches of chicken stock.
Chicken frames were $1.99 a pack (two frames) at Pak’nSave so I bought two packs and re-used the bones twice after making the initial stock to make three batches.
I had been saving celery tops in the freezer for stock making and along with herbs from the garden was able to make delicious stock.  I’ve packaged most of it up in Tupperware freezer containers but have one large bowl in the fridge and will make soup today.
Savings ??  I have no idea how much stock costs as I refuse to buy either powdered or liquid stock when I can make it so easily and more healthy (especially more healthy than stock powder).

I managed to get a 40c/l petrol voucher from Pak’nSave (spend $200) on the weekend so got some great savings when I filled up the van with petrol.
I was just short of the $200 spend at the checkout so bought some stamps (can you believe postage stamps are now 80c each?!!).  I have often done this when trying to spend a certain amount at the supermarket in order to get the fuel discount.  I was out of stamps so needed some anyway.
Savings $26.20

Dried all my washing on the clothes horse in the lounge in front of the heat pump.
I only have one clothes rack on which to dry my laundry.  I do 1-2 loads of laundry a day and layer it on the clothes rack to dry.  It dries within 24 hours in time for the next load to be hung to dry.  If I have sheets or lots of towels to dry I hang them on the washing line outside for most of the day and then bring them inside and put on the rack (layering over the top of all the other washing) for the night.  If I can do this with 6 children then anyone can!  I did have two clothes horses when I had babies in cloth nappies which I would set outside during the day and bring inside each night.

Picked up my Fruit & Vege co-op bag.
$10 got me 2kg gourmet potatoes, 1/2 cauliflower, 500g yams, 1kg apples, 1 bunch bananas, 700g kiwifruit, 1 small butternut pumpkin and 600g carrots.

Went to the library.
Returned books and DVD’s (free children’s ones) and borrowed more books.  Libraries are seriously under-rated, we should all make use of our libraries more.