How to stay motivated when paying off a mortgage

Mike Pumphrey, AFC®
3 min readDec 5, 2022


Creating little milestones will help you stay motivated and give you a sense of accomplishment, even if your mortgage takes years to pay off.

I logged into my mortgage account this month and saw something very exciting:

Why hello indeed

Do you see that? It means that my mortgage balance has dropped below $100,000. After years of paying down my mortgage, I’ve managed to shave off a digit! 🎉

These things don’t totally matter, of course; the difference between $99,000 and $100,000 isn’t that consequential. And I still have some years to go before I’m finally free from the final boss battle of debt.

And yet, when you have a large debt, such as a mortgage or a student loan debt, it’s vitally important to celebrate whatever small milestones you can, as it will keep you motivated and less despondent as you work on such a daunting task.

One of the reasons I like the Debt Snowball method of paying off debt is that you get some quick wins-a small debt paid off here, a less-small debt paid off there-such that you can eliminate some bills and feel like you’re accomplishing something reasonably quickly.

But with a single giant debt like a mortgage, you can’t do that. It’s just one debt, and you have to pay it off, bit by bit.

So with this in mind, I came up with a few fun ways that you can get some of the feeling of accomplishment of paying off some debts, while applied to a single large debt.

Celebrate every 10%

Your mortgage is big, but you can think of it being divided into smaller chunks.

With a $300,000 mortgage, every $30,000 would be a milestone of 10%. Celebrate each 10% when you hit it. Plot out when it’s going to happen on the calendar and have a mini-celebration.

This could also be a little practical when tracking loan-to-value, or LTV.

Let’s say you had a 10% down payment, and so your $300,000 mortgage represented a 90% LTV.

Getting down to a 80% LTV would certainly be a cause for celebration. And not only that, but it would mean that you could get rid of PMI.

And every 10% LTV beyond that could be a new milestone, and another cause for celebration.

Celebrate every $10k (or $100k)

Paying off each $10,000 of principal on a mortgage may take you a year or two, depending on your situation. So that’s a cause for celebration.

And the same is definitely true for each $100,000. Just like an odometer on a car (in reverse), seeing that first digit rollover to another is a cause for a celebration.

This was especially true for me, with my $100,000 rolling over to $99,999, losing that sixth digit entirely. So cool.

Celebrate anything

These are just my ideas, so I invite you to come up with your own.

And I admit that they are arbitrary. 10% or $10,000 is just a trick of our number system, a by-product of having ten fingers.

But no matter. The important part is that you focus on milestones along the way, little bits of progress, so that you can feel a sense of accomplishment, even though you still have a ways to go.

That will help you stay motivated as you pay off your large debts. It’s not easy, but it is possible.

Originally published at on December 5, 2022.



Mike Pumphrey, AFC®

Money coach, helping you thrive during late-stage capitalism.​