Sean Cooper made news headlines across global news channels when he paid off his mortgage in a record 3 years at the tender age of 30! Sean did all of this while working a normal job in financial services in Canada and freelancing as a personal finance coach and writing as a personal finance blogger. Sean is the author of his very well acclaimed book Burn Your Mortgage.
Sean’s story was very polarizing when it came out on Canadian news outlets and actually got him a lot of hate mail and articles online and offline because of how quickly he paid off his mortgage which goes against standard accepted beliefs around home ownership and the 30 year loan repayment time frame that most banks give home owners. The negative feedback centered around Sean being portrayed as a privileged child with wealthy parents or as Sean living in this basement without a life outside of work and stashing away every cent he earns.
Born and raised in Toronto Ontario, Canada Sean grew up in a middle class family with parents who instilled in him the importance of home ownership so from age 10 Sean had the vision of owning his own home. He started working various jobs at a young age and started saving for his down payment even before he graduated university. Sean bought his first home when he was 27 and he paid off by age 30, a remarkable achievement – all on his own savings and his own aggressive focus on beating the mortgage debt!
Lifestyle choices – no car!
Sean made the decision of not owning a car during his period of paying off the mortgage as it amounts to the second largest payment in most people’s budgets and he found a practical way to make sure he lived near public transport and lived a car free life.
This was a very bold and mature decision for Sean to make a young age, when I was 20 all I was thinking of was owning my first car, and the first loan I ever took out was to buy my first car, a white Toyota Mark II. It requires discipline and laser focus to follow through with a car free lifestyle. Admittedly it may not be entirely possible for everyone due to your professional work, if you are a trades person you may work from different sites each week and need a personal car, so you may need a find a way to get a reliable cost effective car that doesn’t cost you too much to buy or maintain. There may also be opportunities for you to car pool or ride share with colleagues from work where you reduce your car running expenses with the goal of saving up for your first home.
Saving strategy at a young age
Sean found a way to work through his university days which paid off tuition and helped him graduate debt free. He also started saving for his down payment during his college days and after graduating continued on this path and saved 80% of his income after graduating which helped in save up a handsome down payment of $170,000 by age 27.
Advice for saving up for your down payment
- Firstly work out whether they want to own a home in the first place.
- Work out how much you need to save in order to fund your down payment or home loan deposit.
- Calculate how many years you would like to give yourself before having a fully funded down payment and this will determine how much you need to save each month.
- Open a stand alone savings account and ‘pay yourself first’ before you do anything else with your salary put aside your nominated savings amount.
- Automate your savings process so that it automatically comes out of your salary account into the savings account, and make sure you have very limited access to your savings account so that you can ‘save and forget’ without the temptation to spend it other ’emergencies’.
Resisting the temptation to spend
Sean kept his goal in mind, work hard for next few years, keep saving up and not defer the savings plan. He buckled down and focused on his goal and now he is debt free and able to travel the world and have the lifestyle choices he forego while saving up and paying off his home.
Sean’s timeline of building up his savings and paying off his mortgage
- 3 years in university while working student jobs at the campus and part time work at the supermarkets on weekends, also did freelance writing on personal finance blogs and also worked full time during the summer.
- 3 years while working full time (and doing freelance writing work), lived at home where he paid $600 in rent and saved up the rest of his salary to fund the balance of his $170k down payment.
- 3 years to pay off a $280k mortgage and owned the home debt free at age 30.
- Sean continues work full time in the pension industry and works on freelance writing and speaking after hours and on weekends.
Freelance writing career making $30,000 per year
Started volunteering as a financial journalist back in 2011 with a small online publication, and built up a strong reputation that led to larger writing opportunities for other industry publications including rate supermarket, income tax software blogs – his record month was $12,000 from freelance writing but that was a lot of hours of work which Sean has toned down.
Sean currently generates $30,000 in per year as a part time freelance writer.
Advice from Sean on how you can become a successful freelance writer in your area of expertise
You need to build a library of articles and blog posts in order to create a strong ‘by-line’, basically you must build a reputation that will act as your reference when you go out to pitch your work. You can do this through having your own blog and post your articles on there, and secondly you can offer to volunteer as a writer for smaller publications online blogs or offline publications – start with smaller ones (check out any available local ones in your city) and then build from there to more lucrative jobs.
You can paid from $50 and article to $500 an article once your name is out there and you have a strong brand. To generate a $2,000 month one can expect to write 10 articles based on Sean’s experience in the personal finance writing space.
Other areas that we discuss with Sean on the podcast
- Dealing with negative hate mail and public backlash when his story hit the main news outlets across Canada, Australia, Europe and the US
- Becoming an author – the process involved for Sean to publish his first book ‘Burn Your Mortgage‘ and how that has helped him further his speaking , writing and money coaching career
- Goal setting and mindset
Recommended books by Sean
- The wealthy barber returns”
- Be the better broker
- Oh lala guide to rocking your rsps
Best way to connect with Sean
- Grab a copy of Sean’s amazing book ‘Burn Your Mortgage
- Blogsite seancooperwriter.com – Personal Finance and Mortgages, visit Sean here and sign up to his newsletter
- Twitter @SeanCooperWrite
- LinkedIn Sean Richard Cooper
Personal Legacy in Sean’s words
“Finance is very personal to me, money was one of the main reasons my parents divorced and it tore the family apart so I don’t want to see that happening to other families. I have been championing the cause of financial literacy because I see it as being very important for families that is why I speak about it and help promote it. Secondly when you read newspapers and watch the news you find that a lot of millennials feel like the home ownership dream is out of reach and not affordable, so I want to show them through my story that it’s still an option and that home ownership is a good long term investment even for millenials, I don’t want to see a generation that gives up on that dream of owning a house, I want to show people that its still possible.”
Get Your Hopes Up and Maximize Your Dreams!