“Our date nights when we first got married were dollar burgers and dollar movies.”
Ernest and Liza Gomez have paid off $100,000 of debt over the last five years and their story is one accessible for nearly all of us.
Far from winning the lottery, their story begins with the purchase of a single wide mobile home and a piece of property out in Ernest’s home town of Castroville, TX.
After getting married and feeling the weight of credit card bills, student loans, and other debts, Ernest and Liza knew their current situation living with family just wasn’t going to cut it. Similarly, they were uncomfortable renting, set on the long-term investment home ownership would bring.
“When we first got married, I was the only one working and it was more affordable to own than rent. It was going to be financially more responsible to own a house,” Ernest says, “It was our starter home.”
At the time they purchase their home, Ernest was offered a job selling mobile homes with that same company. (You can read all about his story and journey to Braustin here.)
So how did they pay off their debt by getting acquiring more debt through a mortgage? They understood that though buying a home added more debt to their name, the monthly payment would be less than almost every rental in the area, and there would be a return rather than loss at the end of their payments, instead of the 50% chance of not even receiving their deposit back.
Beyond a mortgage, their plan was a simple one, though the kind of plan nobody likes to hear (a lot like the age-old method of diet and exercise to lose weight). The newlyweds simply kept expenses low and diligently put more than the minimum on their debts, getting creative to ensure they could still have a little fun.
“Our date nights when we first got married were dollar burgers and dollar movies,” Ernest says.
As time progressed and income increased, the couple not only paid down more and more of their bills, they also began updating and customizing their single wide with the goal of turning their home into a rental, replacing the carpets with laminate flooring, tiling the master shower, and installing higher-end finishes throughout, all with a little elbow grease and DIY determination.
With sights set on being debt-free by the end of 2019 and presently without children, Ernest and Liza are ready to forego quiet country life to rent in downtown San Antonio while renting out and potentially selling their single wide in Castroville.
“As we had the opportunity to do a little more than we could five years ago we realized, hey, the hill country lifestyle isn’t what we need right now,” Ernest says, “even though we have loved it and it was exactly what we needed when we started.”
Looking back on that crucial decision to start small and commit to a mortgage rather than rent, the couple agrees it was the mobile home and the affordable lifestyle it offered that has made this next chapter in their lives possible.
“Had we lived the way we live today five years ago, we never would have paid off any debt,” Ernest says.
In looking forward to their future, Ernest and Liza are thrilled to pursue other dreams and goals beside paying off debt such as traveling the world and investing in additional properties.
Their story is proof positive of how a little strategic investing and delayed gratification can add up to both a more secure and freeing future.