Burn Your Mortgage Review

Burn your mortgage book review

Seeing your mortgage go up in smoke…

I bet you’ve dreamed of it. Visualized it. Wished upon a star for it.

But … it’s still there. Always there. Seemingly devouring half your paycheque. Every. Single. Time.

I’ve got good news for you: burning your mortgage doesn’t have to be just some pipedream, it can be a reality sooner than you think.

In fact, I burned my first mortgage almost exactly 5 years after signing the papers - not the 25+ years the bank signed me up for.

You Think That’s Good? You Haven’t Met Sean!

I did pretty well on my first mortgage - but it was nothing compared to what Sean Cooper, author of Burn Your Mortgage: The Simple Path to Financial Freedom for Canadians, did under much harsher circumstances.

He paid off his in 3 years flat by the time he was 31. Oh, did I mention it was a $425,000 house in the 2nd most expensive real estate market of Canada? You guessed it: Toronto.

After his $170,000 down payment, only $255,000 of it was mortgage - but that’s still amazeballs!

How did he do it?

Related: Tips For Paying Off Your Mortgage Faster

By making many, many smart moves but also by doing some things I do not recommend you repeat.

He worked 80+ hour weeks for years holding down 2-3 jobs at a time. There was his full time gig, plenty of freelance writing, and he used to work at the grocery store as well before he let that job go.

He also skimped on quality healthy food (that homemade pizza of yours barely counts Sean!)

So, when he asked me for advice about writing a book about his mortgage burning journey, I straight up told him to tone it down a lot.

I suggested he use himself as an extreme example of what is possible. Then, provide a menu of options people can choose from to cut down their own mortgage burning ETA. And that’s exactly what he did.

He divides the book into 3 parts:

Part 1: How To Save Money?

The first part of the book it titled Setting Yourself Up For Financial Freedom, but I swear it could have been titled “How To Save Money”.

He talks about many of the things I love to talk about here at HTS and actually covers a lot of ground in relatively few pages. There is a lot of practical money saving advice that never goes over the top so it is palatable for the everyday busy person.

No extreme guides here, just rapid fire money saving advice that will help you either save for, or pay off your house. It’s all really solid and well-written advice too. In fact, I found myself wishing I had written it myself.

The only quibble I have is that in a few places Sean’s numbers and money saving estimates are perplexing. They may make sense if he explained it fully, but with just a couple lines of detail per tip, it sometimes left me scratching my head.

For example, on p.34, he says you can save $1,000 a year by avoiding the latest iPhone every time a new model drops. He then goes on to say you should buy an older one second hand (still an iPhone) every few years instead. He also says a new iPhone costs around $600.

I just can’t figure how that adds up to $1,000 saved per year...

Used iPhones still aren’t cheap - they tend to hold their value, right? Even if you’re on the bleeding edge of tech, you still likely aren’t buying a brand new iPhone every single year. More like every 2 years. So that’s a maximum of $300 per year saved. If you factor in the cost of the 2nd hand phone, it’s even less.

Most of his numbers do check out though, but I would double check them for your personal situation first before thinking your savings are going to be bigger than they really will be. Just in case.

The other thing I really appreciated was how he covered goal setting in a quick and powerful way that motivated without overcomplicating it.

He rounds out this part of the book with some solid advice on how to save for your down payment and how to decide on exactly how much of a down payment you should aim for.

Part 2: The Buy

Over the next several chapters Sean goes over every possible thing you will need to know or think about when it comes to buying a house. He is thorough, but doesn’t waste pages going into unnecessary detail.

My favourite part of this section is how he helps you get real about your needs vs. wants when it comes to buying a home and some really practical guidance on choosing a good real estate agent to work with.

Related: How to Find a Good Real Estate Agent

He’ll also shake you down a bit and make sure you really are ready to buy your own place.

The simple truth is that buying is the wrong move for many a person and can end up costing you plenty of money if you jump in before you’re ready. Even though this is a pro home ownership book - he doesn’t skirt around the issue at all.

I did have one major complaint about this section though. He spends most of the book advising against overspending, preaches risk management, and generally advises being pragmatic and not overextending yourself.

He then does an about face and both recommends using a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) to go into further debt if you don’t have savings for home renovations. Worse, he says “This is a great option, one that doesn’t get the attention it deserves” about a “purchase plus improvements” mortgage with a paltry 5% down payment.

Not only is a 5% down payment going to cost you big in extra CMHC insurance and increased interest costs, but doing that could overextend you by adding to the size of your mortgage when you clearly can’t afford much already. These types of specialty mortgages also come with worse rates because they are non-standard products targeted at people who don’t have their finances in order.

I wouldn’t say it’s a “great option” - I’d say “almost always avoid.”

Finally, Chapter 10 is a must read section that covers the ins and outs of how mortgages work. It will open your eyes about the complexities and massive booby traps that can come with your mortgage. I learned a few unexpected things myself, even though I’ve researched mortgages quite extensively and read the fine print pretty closely on more than one occasion.

Part 3: Congratulations You’re A Homeowner

At this point, the book is kind of winding down and most of the pearls of wisdom have already been shared. But, you will still find some good tips on how to keep your “castle” in good running order and to make sure both it, and you, are well protected in case of emergency.

My favourite tip is one that everyone should have tattooed on their eyelids - avoid mortgage life insurance. Why would you pay for insurance coverage where your coverage actually decreases as you do something good (pay down your mortgage). That doesn’t mean the premiums are cheaper than term life insurance either.

The kicker?

Mortgage life insurance designates the bank as the beneficiary so your heirs will never see a penny of it. It goes straight to the bank to discharge your mortgage without any consideration of your estate at all. Pass. Get term life insurance instead.

This Book Pays For Itself

One thing is for sure, this book will pay for itself. Even if you follow 5% of the advice given by Sean, you should still be hundreds of dollars ahead of the game.

So far, readers are loving it too leaving a string of nearly all 5-star reviews on Amazon.ca. Personally, I would give it a 4-star rating because of the few minor things I mentioned already.

If he cleaned those things up in a 2nd edition, I might just bump that up to a 5-star.

Disclosure: Some links in this article may be affiliate links. We're letting you know because it's the right thing to do. Here’s a more detailed disclosure on how HTS makes money.

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Shaun Dell
Shaun Dell's picture

People often don't realise how much difference additional payments make. I have found that even just smaller random payments of $20 or $50 and consistently overpaying on my student loan has saved me...not hundreds but thousands of dollars in interest! Keep spreading the knowledge! Thank you. S

April 13, 2017 @ 9:06 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I have drawn 4 book winners because I had 2 more books made available to me. The winners are Sharon, Bryan, Eric, and Sunny. I've contacted each of you by email and will send the books out soon.

April 25, 2017 @ 11:04 am
Cheryl H
Cheryl H's picture

We pay bi weekly and upped our payments by $50. We also got a 20 year mortgage instead of 25. At renewal we had 10 years to go, not 15. Hoping this book helps us knock it down even faster!

April 13, 2017 @ 9:33 am
Michelle's picture

It would be interesting to see what other valuable information is in this book. We already make extra payments but hopefully there are a few hidden gems that help getting out sooner of the mortgage rat race

April 13, 2017 @ 9:33 am
Hal's picture

At the end of the day, it's all about choices; and wants vs. needs. If you can figure that all out, make bi-weekly payments instead of monthly, and make MORE than the minimum payments you'll have that mortgage licked in no time!

April 13, 2017 @ 9:39 am
TC's picture

It would be interesting to read this book! He has an interesting story/blog.

April 13, 2017 @ 9:50 am
Sophie's picture

I'm all about learning, finding appropriate ways to pay off my mortgage fast as I want to keep the money I make for my daughter and i instead if the banks. Paying my mortgage bi-weekly, making additional payments 3 times per year works, what else and where else to cut and find money? Working 80 hours makes sense ONLY if my second job is for myself and I'm passionate about it. Giving an additional 40 hours to another party is not living in my view. Yep, I could pay off my mortgage faster, or go deep into depression for lack of "me" time!

April 13, 2017 @ 9:57 am
Hal's picture

Just by making bi-weekly payments, instead of monthly and upping the payment beyond the minimum makes a HUGE difference. Many do not realize that every penny paid above-and beyond the minimum goes STRAIGHT towards the principal!

Every dollar counts, is the bottom line..

April 13, 2017 @ 10:05 am
Dylan Corriveau
Dylan Corriveau's picture

This sounds like an interesting read! I would love to see if i'm actually doing all of the things within the book

April 13, 2017 @ 10:10 am
Maria's picture

I'm working my way towards being mortgage free. I still have $79K left on my mortgage and would love to read Sean's book. I pay bi-weekly and try to make monthly pre-payments. I also put all my tax refund towards my mortgage.

April 13, 2017 @ 10:11 am
Rad's picture

This would be a great book for my family. We are older parents with two babies. We live in a rental and are thinking of buying a home in the GTA in the near future. Every tip toward paying off the mortgage would be extremely helpful given how outrageously priced the present real estate market is in Toronto.

April 13, 2017 @ 10:14 am
Holly's picture

Wow, I would so love this book!

April 13, 2017 @ 10:18 am
Jim's picture

Stephen: Minor quibble as you are on the East(Atlantic) Coast.
The Most Expensive Real Estate in the Country is VANCOUVER, especially the city proper.
If his house cost $425 K 5 years ago, it would have been at least 1 MILLION in Vancouver at the time - he would be still eating homemade pizzas.

Thanks for the review.

April 13, 2017 @ 10:24 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Ya, Vancouver and Toronto are in a pretty tight race. I thought things had cooled recently in Vancouver but were still hot in Toronto but I haven't kept pace with all the recent developments. After checking the most recent numbers, I see Vancouver is still well in the lead even with the recent drops. I'll update the article, thanks!

April 13, 2017 @ 11:18 am
Heather's picture

This would be a great book for my kids...one is a new homeowner and one is looking to get into the home market

April 13, 2017 @ 10:33 am
Marg's picture

I'm at the stage in my life where I'm deciding to pay down the mortgage or adding to my RSP. This book would give better insight.

April 13, 2017 @ 11:03 am
Talvinder's picture

I am also putting in extra biweekly payments and i guess this is the only way. Just save some extra and put that in your biweekly payments, it all comes down to how much you pay.

April 13, 2017 @ 11:29 am
Liz's picture

We've had to have a real lifestyle change and glad I came across your web-site on so many money saving tips! With 3 kids (twins & one a year older) heading into post secondary school in the next few years, the expenses are not gonna get any easier! I'm looking at saving anyway we can! I would love to read this book as I really appreciate your honest review of both the pros & cons of his ideas!

April 13, 2017 @ 11:34 am
Vivian's picture

One of the most important characteristics necessary to pay down a mortgage quickly is discipline along with knowledge/education.

April 13, 2017 @ 11:41 am
cb's picture

Single and worked between 30 and 35 (7 days a week, 7am-11pm) to be able to buy a reasonably priced house in a small city. Hallelujah...no mortgage required. Just needed to find a car that wasn't all rust and repairs costing more than the monthly payment. All my savings went to the house account. Savings were CIDC GIC's. No risk was tolerable. There was a cost...social life and life experiences other than work, delayed marriage and family.

Now my son gets this great job in Toronto. He works anywhere from 60 to 120 hours a week and rents. He says that he and his wife need a house at this time (maybe...the bubble pricing is discouraging) but he does need a house. He has rented since he moved to Toronto. I don't understand how someone working as an employee can afford a starter home that sells for $1,2 plus closing costs, repair of deferred maintanance , renovations.

Thanks for the site.

April 13, 2017 @ 11:42 am
clyde's picture

I'm paying bi-weekly to get rid of it quicker.

April 13, 2017 @ 11:46 am
NDcaster's picture

My wife and I are just about ready to purchase our FIRST home. We are excited and nervous all at the same time. Looks like this would be a great read, while considering your critiques. We are committed to being financially wise, so we really appreciate your blog. Thanks and keep up the good work!

April 13, 2017 @ 12:49 pm
Jony's picture

At the moment I am making weekly mortgage payments, on top of that matching the weekly payment. It makes a huge difference with the extra money going towards the principal. I would love to learn new tips on how to knock this beast down faster. There's no way I can going to retirement with mortgage debt. And life is so much easier being debt-free. Thank you for making this offer available!

April 13, 2017 @ 1:09 pm
reda taleb
reda taleb's picture

I would like to read this book. Thanks

April 13, 2017 @ 1:16 pm
Kim's picture

Single parent with 2 kids. Renting & trying to bring debt down first, then look at a modest home to buy..any help is appreciated.

April 13, 2017 @ 2:11 pm
Manuel's picture

My fiancé and I are currently in the process of purchasing our first home and this book couldn't have come at a better time! :)

April 13, 2017 @ 2:52 pm
Kevin's picture

Paying off my mortgage quickly is my current goal. This book would be helpful.

April 13, 2017 @ 3:00 pm
Kim's picture

I can't wait to be mortgage free , we pay bi-weekly and add a bump up on all payments. Also on our house anniversary month we drop a lump sum even if its not that much every dollar helps and it means less interest. I would love to read this book, saving money, making budgets, shopping smart are some of my favourite things.

April 13, 2017 @ 4:17 pm
Murray Deller
Murray Deller's picture

Sounds like an interesting book to read. Would be nice to win so I can share it with my adult children.

April 13, 2017 @ 4:53 pm
Abi's picture

I bought a house that was honestly too much house for me and my two dogs - financially and in size - but I decided to renovate the basement by myself and help from a few friends for pizza and beer and was able to put a full suite in the basement for only $7000.
Now I have decided to move into the basement suite (which is about half the size of the upper unit) and rent out the top suite. The rent I can get for the upstairs will cover the mortgage and then all the other expenses are my living "cost".
I am pretty tolerant, so I don't mind hearing noises from tenants upstairs. I would actually rather that then to have to tip toe around upstairs in fear of disturbing tenants downstairs!

April 13, 2017 @ 6:35 pm
Sharon's picture

I live and own a small townhouse in Vancouver. With just a single income household, I would love to learn more about how to burn my mortgage quicker without restricting myself to death. I'm already doing what's called the accelerated bi-weekly plus a top-up each payment.

It's very impressive how some people could pay off their mortgage in less than 10 years.

April 13, 2017 @ 7:24 pm
Kim P.
Kim P.'s picture

My husband and I are currently working on our budget to cut expenses and start saving money. This book will help us achieve our goals.

April 13, 2017 @ 7:35 pm
Debbie's picture

Hi there, I would love to win a copy of this book! The sooner I can pay off the largest debit of my life (my mortgage) the better, I just bought a home last May and definitely feel the pressure to pay it down as soon as possible in order to avoid paying all of the extra interest expense that's on top of my actual home price! I'll keep my fingers crossed!

April 13, 2017 @ 7:37 pm
Debbie's picture

Eeek please ignore my spelling, it should read "debt" not debit.

April 13, 2017 @ 7:38 pm
Natalie's picture

Wow, sounds like an interesting book! We do bi-weekly payments, renewed at a lower interest rate and kept our payments the same. Can you point out where one can purchase this book for those that don't win a copy?

April 13, 2017 @ 8:15 pm
Bryan's picture

Would be very interested in reading about the ways he slashed his mortgage so quickly. Thanks for the honest review too. Often you get the fluffy "you gotta read this, it's all wonderful" now here's a giveaway. Keep up the great work!

April 13, 2017 @ 8:31 pm
Eric's picture

This article is about paying the mortgage as fast as possible and it is nice to whom who can live extreme lives(having more than one jobs). There is also those who save so much money to be able to retire young (40-45 year old). Both are interesting concepts.

April 13, 2017 @ 8:35 pm
Theresa's picture

We are both looking to buy within the next year - this would be a lifesaver for us! Thanks :)

April 13, 2017 @ 9:27 pm
Ann McBurnie
Ann McBurnie's picture

As I near retirement I'd sure like to pay off my mortgage!

April 13, 2017 @ 11:13 pm
Paul's picture

My wife and I have gone through the cycle of buying and paying off a mortgage twice in the Toronto area. I found as a conservative measure in case of problems along the way, rather than shortening the amortization period we went as long as possible to minimize REQUIRED payments, and then relying on double-up and lump sum payments to pay them off quickly. Both times we paid them off in less than 5 years, but if one of us had lost our jobs we could have fallen back to the normal payments.

April 14, 2017 @ 11:52 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Yes, that's pretty much exactly what I did with my first mortgage as well.

April 14, 2017 @ 12:17 pm
David's picture

Even though interest rates are low now, I still make aggressive prepayments on my mortgage because they will likely rise in the future.

April 14, 2017 @ 8:32 pm
Adnan 's picture

Time for me to renew my mortgage and I always have a hard time saving and paying more on my mortgage . Would love to read this book. Thanks for sharing the copies. .

April 14, 2017 @ 8:33 pm
King's picture

I am planning to get in to the market this year as First time home buyer. Hope this book would guide me a lot.Thanks.

April 14, 2017 @ 9:11 pm
Mikhail's picture

I have been reading a lot of articles from this website! Very useful! And this book in particular looks very interesting...would love to get it.

April 15, 2017 @ 2:32 am
Marpy's picture

Hello - First off - IMO - No one really NEEDS a house. You may want a house and it may be a lifestyle choice you chose but no one really needs a house. Then everything in this world goes in cycles. Nothing defies gravity including housing prices. I know - this is easily said and difficult for those waiting to buy. I bought my house in 1982. Lucky or great timing?? as the market was well into a housing crash and i got a bargain. I also paid it off fairly quickly and am located in the GTA. Even so, when I do the math, the best that can be said for housing is that it is a poor investment. Its more of a life style choice than anything else. When you add up all the costs - mortgage interest, repairs, up keep, yard maintenance, heating and cooling etc. (yes even if you rent you have some of these costs but they are a lot lower) , the rate of return even in a hot housing market is not that great. and this assumes that you sell your house in a hot housing market when reality is that people sell their houses for a lot of other factors regardless of the housing market.
For those that have made the choice to buy
- Don't over spend. To do so is a big mistake as you have no room to pay extra every month and will quickly end up in trouble if your income takes a hit.
- save for as much of a down payment as you can. Lowers your monthly payments and provides a margin of safety should you run into financial issues.
- Focus on paying your mortgage off those extra payments (especially early on) quickly take years off your mortgage.
- think of where you will be in the future - if you have to move a couple of years down the road, you may have to sell regardless of what the market is doing.
- if you need a reminder to keep you focused, just keep reminding yourself of what you can do with that two thousand or so after tax dollars that you currently send to the bank every month. - RRSP, TFSA, Enjoying life!!!!!! ;-)


April 16, 2017 @ 1:13 pm
Nele's picture

Looking forward to reading this book; burning the mortgage is so motivating, however with interest rates so low I am constantly torn between dumping all extra $ into the < 3% mortgage or investing it long term in hopes of getting at least 6-7% growth as I am still relatively young... interested to see if S.C has a take on this in the book.

April 16, 2017 @ 1:14 pm
Zezi's picture

Very well and summarised article.
I would like to 'win' a vopy of this great immense help book please.

Thanks !

April 17, 2017 @ 10:10 am
Sunny Kharkar
Sunny Kharkar's picture

Would love to get a copy of this book! Thank you.

April 17, 2017 @ 11:23 am

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