Master your mortgage: A review of Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon’s How to Get Mortgage Free Like Me

Posted: 9 March 2020 5:05 pm
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Front cover of the book.

If you want an in-depth and inspirational guide to paying off your home loan faster, this could be the book for you.

Australian bookshops are filled with books on money saving and financial advice, and there are plenty on property too. But a book that's largely about mortgages? That's a bit different.

Money expert Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon's How to Get Mortgage Free Like Me is both a classic financial self-help book and a specific guide to dealing with the biggest debt most Australians ever accumulate: a home loan.

Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon is a regular financial commentator and money guru. She writes a regular money column in the Sydney Morning Herald, frequently appears on TV and is also a contributor here at Finder X. And crucially, for this topic, she paid her own home loan off in just seven years.

Seven. Years. That's a huge achievement.

Quick verdict

If you read How to Get Mortgage Free Like Me, you'll come away well-equipped to start paying off your mortgage faster and hopefully feel inspired to do so. The book has a wealth of tips and strategies, and it's written for the ordinary Australian home owner, not investment strategists.

I know a lot more about home loans than the majority of people, and I still found it helpful. And I learned a couple of things I probably should have already known.

The steps to getting mortgage free

How to Get Mortgage Free Like Me mixes a series of practical financial steps with a good dash of savings tips (what Pedersen-McKinnon calls "stinge-spiration") and anecdotes from people who've paid off their own monster mortgages.

If you were to summarise Pedersen-McKinnon's key tips, it would be something like the following:

  • Prioritise paying off your debt, set a clear goal and visualise mortgage freedom.
  • Adjust your lifestyle and spending (realistically) and pour every extra dollar into your mortgage (strategically).
  • Find a mortgage with the lowest possible rate.
  • Make sure it has an offset account.

Pedersen-McKinnon is a major advocate for the offset account, the handy interest-saving feature that some (but not all) mortgages come with. I found this the most helpful part of the book, as the author breaks down the many different ways an offset account can become your "mortgage-busting secret weapon".

This includes practical tips such as making extra repayments into your offset account rather than off the actual loan principal (this gives you greater flexibility if you need to pull some cash out) or using the cash built up in your offset account to cover the purchase of a second property as an upgrade or investment.

And of course, that classic mortgage money hack: the credit card with offset trick.

The book is not afraid to start crunching heavy numbers, especially in the final section where Pedersen-McKinnon outlines second and third home buying strategies, debt consolidation and other complex topics.

But it's never too hard to follow, and always interspersed with cheerful daily life anecdotes and savings tips.

In fact, if I had to make any complaint about the book, it would be that the excellent mortgage advice sometimes takes a little work to find, as it's laid out between various money tips and stories. And that's a pretty nice problem to have.

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