Setting the standards for extreme frugality in finances is 30-year-old Sean Cooper. Despite not having a glamorous job, he managed to save enough money to pay off a whopping $225,000 mortgage in only three years!
Cooper purchased a $425,000 house in Toronto, Canada, in 2012 and since then, created a strict pauper-like regime for himself. He started by getting himself two additional jobs to supplement his income as a pension analyst, working a total of 100 hours a week. He wrote financial articles in his free time, and also took a $13-an-hour job at the meat section of a supermarket, even though he’s a vegetarian. “It wasn’t the most glamorous job, but it helped me pay off my mortgage, so I can’t complain,” he said.
“For a lot of people, their mortgage is like a life sentence. I just wanted to not have a mortgage hanging over my head for the next 30 years.”
So he stopped using his car and rode his bike everywhere instead, saving about $10,000 a year on gas. He also lived in the basement of the house he’d purchased, renting out the rest of it for additional income. Between 2012 and 2015 Cooper never ate out, never went to the movies, never went out with friends, and didn’t take a single vacation. “Kraft Dinner’s probably been my best friend the last three years,” he said, rather proudly. “On weekends and evenings I would do freelance writing so, while people were out having a good time, I was usually inside on my computer working.”
And all his hard work paid off – he managed to save up about $100,000 a year, most of which he used to clear his mortgage. And within the span of three years and two months, he managed to become completely debt-free.
Although admirable, Cooper’s extreme money-saving methods are certainly far from the norm. But he says he couldn’t have done it any other way, given how he witnessed his own mother almost losing their home after she became unemployed during the dot-com crash of the early 2000s. “I didn’t want to be in that situation. I saw how tough it was on her.”
“Most people, when they hear this, they think I’m either crazy or ambitious, hopefully mostly the latter,” Cooper said. His frugal lifestyle has received a lot of criticism online, when CBC News posted the story on their Facebook wall. “Upstanding citizen works his life away, lives in miserable squalor and forgoes human relationships for years,” a commenter wrote. “How is this an inspirational story?”
“Well there,” wrote another. “Guess the corporations are right. Work multiple jobs, don’t have a family, and eat rice and pasta and you too can achieve the dream.”
But those who know Cooper actually admire him for what he’s managed to achieve. “I don’t know how he did it,” said Eunice Huot, who has a $350,000 mortgage to pay. “I actually sat down and tried to plan out my finances and see if I could do something similar like that, but no.”
“I think it’s outstanding,” added another friend, Norah Isbister. “I don’t think I could live that frugally.”
Cooper couldn’t be happier. He celebrated the big moment by burning his mortgage papers amidst a cheering crowd, in front of a Toronto restaurant. “I’m going to loosen up and enjoy some things I’ve been depriving myself of,” he told his friends at the party. He quit the supermarket job for starters, and although he still lives in the basement, he plans to move upstairs as soon as there’s a wife in the picture. A frugal one, of course.