Many Americans are grappling with debt, a challenge exacerbated by rising living costs and stagnant wages. According to CBS News, a recent survey revealed that nearly 18% of U.S. homeowners and 14% of renters are behind on their payments. This financial strain is often due to unforeseen expenses, job loss, or insufficient income, forcing many to seek assistance from government programs and non-profit organisations to avoid foreclosure and eviction.

Which is why the story of bloggers and US couple Shyra and Marques paying off their mortgage much earlier than scheduled is remarkable in a time of economic turmoil. In 2009, the couple purchased a home outside Sacramento, USA. Imppresively by 2017, the couple had paid off their 30-year mortgage. Since then, they have leveraged their financial freedom to invest in real estate, generate passive income, and embark on entrepreneurial ventures.

Shyra and Marques founded Black, Married, and Debt Free, a money management and advice platform to guide clients towards financial independence. They established this platform after overcoming an economic crisis that left them in significant debt. Through practical steps and a major mindset shift, the couple managed to eliminate a six-figure debt and achieve debt-free status in 2017.

## Step 1: Making Extra Payments Using a Simple Calculation

Marques and Shyra adopted the 1/12 rule to expedite their mortgage payments. This straightforward strategy involves dividing the monthly mortgage payment by 12 and adding that amount to the monthly principal. For example, if their monthly payment was \$1,000, they would add an extra \$83 each month. This approach results in one additional payment per year, significantly reducing the mortgage term.

"A strategy we used early was the 1/12 rule. You take your monthly mortgage payment amount and divide it by 12," Marques explained in an email to Business Insider. "If your monthly payment is \$1,000, your 1/12 is \$83. Then, you make an additional payment to your principal balance of \$83."

The couple automated these payments to avoid the temptation to spend the money elsewhere, thus maintaining consistency in their debt repayment strategy.

## Step 2: Avoiding Lifestyle Inflation Through Side Gigs

To avoid lifestyle inflation—a common tendency to increase spending as income rises—Shyra and Marques took on various side gigs. Marques utilised his musical talents to earn extra income by performing at gigs, selling music online, and working as a studio session musician.

"I used my gift to start selling music online, playing gigs on the weekends, helping music ministries at local churches, and doing work for hire as a studio session musician," Marques said.

These additional income streams were pivotal in accelerating their mortgage payoff journey. "This strategy had the biggest impact on our payoff journey," Marques added. "The harder you work, the more you can apply to your mortgage."

## More Tips to Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster

Inspired by their journey? Here are practical tips to help you pay off your mortgage faster, based on strategies used by Shyra and Marques and additional insights from CNBC:

1. Make Extra Payments: Make extra payments towards the principal whenever possible; this reduces the amount of interest you pay over the life of the loan.
2. Biweekly Payments: Instead of monthly payments, consider making biweekly payments; this results in one extra payment per year.
3. Lump-Sum Payments: Apply any windfalls or bonuses directly to your mortgage principal.
4. Refinance: If financially feasible, refinance your mortgage to a lower interest rate or a shorter loan term.
5. Round Up Payments: Round up your payments to the nearest hundred dollars. For instance, if your mortgage payment is \$950, pay \$1,000.
6. Reduce Expenses: Cut unnecessary expenses and allocate the savings towards your mortgage.
7. Automate Payments: Automate your extra payments to ensure consistency and avoid the temptation to spend the money elsewhere.