Student loans and mortgages are arguably two of the toughest things to pay off. Only a few manage to get rid of these in their early lives while the rest work toward it into middle age.
Perhaps that is why Toronto resident Sean Cooper thought he would make a great inspirational story. He bought a house for $425,000 in 2012 and then embarked on a painstaking financial plan to pay off his $255,000 mortgage as soon as possible.
“For a lot of people, their mortgage is like a life sentence,” the 30-year-old explained. “I just wanted to not have a mortgage hanging over my head for the next 30 years.”
For the next three years and two months of his life, Cooper worked three jobs. He was already a full-time employee at a pensions consulting firm but he also worked at a “no-frills” supermarket as a clerk along with doing freelance writing on weekends and at night.
“So while people were out having a good time, I was usually inside on my computer working,” he told CBC News. “Most people, when they hear this, they either think I'm crazy or ambitious, hopefully mostly the latter.”
Apart from working multiple jobs, he also rented out his three-bedroom bungalow to maximize his rental income and opted to live in the basement. He rode his bike to work and mostly survived on “Kraft dinners” of macaroni and cheese.
As a result of his sacrifices — and some high-level financial planning — he paid off his mortgage in record time. Cooper was so proud of himself, he even called in local TV station to film him as he burned his mortgage papers.
The Canadian man probably thought the Internet would admire him for accomplishing the unbelievable, but to his great surprise, the world (or the most in it) wasn’t a least bit impressed.
“Upstanding citizen works his life away, lives in miserable squalor and forgoes human relationships for years. How is this an inspirational story?” a social media user commented on the CBC Facebook page, while another wrote: “Yet another privileged white man bragging about how he ‘did it on his own.’ But did anyone notice how big his down payment was? Or the fact that he has a $75k+ full-time job?”
Apparently, Cooper had saved a $170,000 deposit on his own.
“I didn’t get inheritance and I paid for university all myself, so I certainly wasn’t given a free ride by my parents,” he told The Globe and Mail. “My mother was a single mother, and I paid her $600 a month in rent when I was living in her basement.”
However, there is no pleasing some people.
“So he took three jobs when people are struggling to get one, so that he can pay his debt off faster, while others trying to find a job struggled,” one woman complained.
Meanwhile, some also felt sorry for him.
“If he hopes to woo a mate with whom to enjoy his financial standing, he isn’t going to need applause — he’s going to need something to talk about, like a person, besides *work* or ‘frugal’ ways to gussy up Kraft dinner,” wrote another Facebook user, while another commented: “Great, but is he satisfied with *any other aspect* of his life? How could he be — when has he had time to be?”
As for Cooper, he acknowledges that the sacrifice to his social life was probably not worth it.
“I definitely regret that,” he said. “Paying off my house this quickly, I realized I made a mistake working 80 to 100 hours some weeks. I’d rather I paid it off in five to six years and had spent more time socializing with people.”
After 10 years of working at the supermarket, he finally let go of the job and is ready to enjoy life a bit more.