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#MogoLife Interview: Meet Sean Cooper, the guy who “Burned his Mortgage”

Meet Sean Cooper, he paid his $420,000 Toronto mortgage off in 3 years before he turned 30, and then wrote “Burn Your Mortgage” to tell his story. How did he do it? Not gunna lie, he took some pretty extreme measures. He lived in the basement of the house and rented out the rest of the house. He lived super frugally and cooked all his own meals - hooray for KD! He also took 2 extra jobs, working around 100 hours a week, and rode his bike everywhere.

Sean’s story is super crazy and super cool. It’s all about having a goal, and figuring out what you’re willing to sacrifice to get there. You might not be keen to kill your social life to get where you want to be financially, but you can definitely take a page out of Sean’s book (pun intended) and set your own #DoMoreSpendLess money goals.

Sean Cooper | Personal finance expert | Financial journalist | speaker and money coach
How did you get into personal finance?

Sean: My reason is altruistic. I am passionate about financial literacy. I want Canadians to be better informed when making major financial decisions, such as buying a home or car. There are all sorts of consequences of poor financial decisions: half of Canadians live paycheque to paycheque; money is also the top reason for divorce (not infidelity). By making better financial decisions, Canadians can live happier and healthier lives.

What are working on now?

Sean: I’m the author of Burn Your Mortgage: The Simple, Powerful Path to Financial Freedom for Canadians It just hit bookstores and other retail outlets across Canada (so check it out!). It's inspired by my real-life experience paying off my mortgage on a Toronto home in 3 years by age 30. You don’t have to ditch your friends and eat Kraft Dinner to pay off your mortgage early. In my book I share practical, realistic advice to becoming a debt-free homeowner at a challenging time when real estate prices are making headlines across Canada.

A paid off home is only the first step in achieving financial freedom. My next goal is to be a millionaire by age 35. Hey, who knows? Maybe you'll see me as a Dragon on Dragon's Den one day!

Where did you go for financial advice when you were younger?

Sean: I went to the bank for financial advice. I also learned about money from my parents growing up. I learned at an early age about the negative impact money can have on one’s life. Growing up money was tight at home. My family was far from well off. My parents got divorced when I was younger: fighting over money was a main reason. This along with my mother almost losing her house during the dot com bubble is what inspired me to become better financially literate and learn as much about finances as possible. To accomplish this I read countless books (the Wealthy Barber by David Chilton is my favourite), articles and blog posts.

What do you think millennials are looking for that their parent’s generation might not have when it comes to financial advice?

Sean: Fintech companies have really taken off because of millennials. Millennials aren’t looking to sit down in an office and meet face to face with a financial advisor like their parents. Millennials are a technologically savvy generation. They want 24/7 access to information that they can access on their smartphone or tablet through mobile apps. Instead of meeting in person or speaking on the phone, they want to meet advisors on their own terms through Skype or text messages.

Have you ever received bad advice from a traditional financial source?

Sean: I’m not sure if I could say it was bad advice, but I was just uninformed. I consider myself financially savvy, but even I almost made the mistake of choosing a mortgage with the big banks without taking the time to shop the market. I’m glad to use a mortgage broker – I was able to find a mortgage rate that was a lot lower, which helped me pay off my mortgage sooner and save thousands in interest over the life of my mortgage.

At the end of the day you’re an adult and you need to look out for yourself. You can’t expect your banker to hold your hand every step of the way. By taking steps to improve your financial literacy by reading blogs and books like mine (cheap plug), you can be better prepared to make the big decisions in life.

What’s your biggest piece of advice for millennials when it comes to their finances?

Sean: I have two pieces of advice:

  1. Live within your means (stop comparing yourself to others and trying to keep up with the Kardashians, they’re broke; unplug from social media every now and then and focus on what really matters to you).

  2. Set yourself financial goals, and make them “SMART” goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound.

Through goal setting you can pay off your student debt, buy a home and pay it off before you while you’re still young enough to enjoy financial freedom.

It’s not enough to just say you want to save more money. A crucial piece of the puzzle that’s missing for many is WHY. For example, I wanted to pay off my house in 3 years so I could travel more, spend more time with family and friends and write a book. This will help keep you motivated as you work toward your financial goals.

Want to be like Sean, and get mortgage-free fast? (K, maybe not quite as fast, but fast-er 😜). Hells yes you do.

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