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  • Writer's pictureNathan Belcher


We Paid off the House!

So how did we do it?

We stuck to a budget.

From the beginning of our relationship, we openly discussed our finances. We set several goals, with the main goals as investing and paying off our house early. While living on two teacher salaries in Charleston, South Carolina, we made a modest amount of money. We limited our eating out, happy hours, and activities around Charleston. We shopped at Aldi (we miss the frozen pizza!) and would have regular dates at the beach on Sullivans Island. Sometimes we would go crabbing, making the crabs we caught into crab cakes for dinner. As a general rule, we would do activities that didn’t require spending large amounts of money.

We drove old cars.

While living in Charleston, Jess drove a 2001 Toyota Corolla and Nathan drove a 2006 Kia Spectra. Both cars had been paid off for many years, so no car payments allowed us to maximize our extra principal payments.

We found ways to earn extra income.

For one year in Charleston, Jess gave up her planning period and taught two extra classes. She earned an extra $10,000 that year, which we invested into mutual funds with Vanguard. Nathan did extra work for the school district, leading professional development sessions and writing curriculum.

We had a small wedding.

When we became engaged to be married, Jess’ parents graciously provided a generous wedding budget. Their rule was “whatever you don’t spend, you get to keep.” We had a small but beautiful wedding on the beach of Sullivans Island, with immediate family present. Our total cost for the day was $1,000, including a lovely post-wedding dinner at the Obstinate Daughter and gelato at Beardcat’s Sweet Shop. With the remaining funds, we paid off previous student loans for Nathan’s doctoral program—this allowed us to start our marriage with no debt besides our house! In addition to the gift from Jess’ parents, we have received generous gifts from immediate and extended family throughout the years. We consistently put these funds towards the house, reducing the principal balance.

We moved to Singapore.

In 2018, we made a BIG move to Singapore. We sold most our our belongings (including our cars) and rented our house in Charleston. At an international school in Singapore, Nathan is a full-time teacher and Jess is a substitute teacher. With the move to Singapore, we put over 50% of our combined income towards the principal of our house. With this high of a payment rate, we paid the house off in 3 years and 10 months!

What lies ahead?

Now that our house is paid off, we will continue saving and investing at least 50% of our income. We are expecting our first child at the end of November, so it feels amazing to have accomplished a massive financial goal before she arrives.

We are incredibly grateful for the love and support from our friends and family throughout our lives, including financial wisdom and generosity. We hope this post inspires you to take control of your finances and accomplish your goals!


These resources were helpful and inspirational for us:

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