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Mortgage-free dreams comes true at 37

With the right advice a couple with three children and a crippling mortgage turned their life around, writes Laine Moger.

By: Laine Moger

1 April 2023

Two parents, aged in their 30s, were on one income and crippled under the weight of two mortgages. So much so, they hadn’t even considered investing for retirement.

Here’s how the pair became mortgage-free at 37, and planned for their retirement.


Married couple Kris and Leanne have three young kids, and are living in their family home in Waikato. The couple relocated from Taupo eight years ago, but instead of selling their property there they chose to rent it out as an investment.

Kris earns $100,000 a year in a management role, which enables Leanne to stay at home and look after their young family.

When the couple came to see Opes Property partner Kathy they didn’t have a retirement plan or goal in place, but they had seen the strife their newly-retired parents were going through – and they wanted to put a plan in motion to escape the same fate. Something had to be done.


To create a property investment plan you need to figure out what you’re investing for. In other words, you figure out: “How much money you need to make your goal a reality?”

But Kris and Leanne didn’t have a number in mind. They just wanted to be mortgage free, and right now they had two mortgages... on two properties.

As mentioned, the couple’s former home in Taupo was being rented as an investment, but it wasn’t doing very well. If anything, it was costing more. After mulling over a budgeting plan it became clear: the Taupo property had to go.

Some investors can think selling an investment property is a step backwards. It isn’t, especially if you are redirecting money from a poorly-suited asset into something else. In Kris and Leanne’s case, this was paying off their mortgage.

By selling the under-performing rental the couple were able to pay off the mortgage on their other home, and that’s what they did. So, at 37, the couple are mortgage free.

The cool thing about being mortgage-free (other than the obvious) is how it affects their ability to invest. For instance, let’s say the Waikato property is worth $500,000. The bank can lend you up to 80 per cent of the current value of your property.

Most people have to take away the mortgage from that figure, but not this couple. Now mortgage-free, these guys can pull out the whole 80 per cent ($400,000) and use that as a deposit on their investment property.

Now, they were in a position to go back and talk about finance goals with Kathy. They plan for a $100,000 passive income in 25 years time, when Kris turns 60. This equals $2.5 million of assets, assuming a 4 per cent net yield.

‘Some think selling an investment property is a step backwards... it isn’t’


To hit this, Kris and Leanne aimed to purchase four properties over the next 13 years. Here’s the thing, a lot of investors just starting out think: “Oh, I can only buy one now”.

But that’s OK. Because if you’re working to a plan that’s spread over 13 years you have time to improve your income and circumstances along the way. Here at Opes we call this strategy Earn, Baby, Earn, which focuses on increasing your income. This allows you to borrow more.

For instance, right now Kris and Leanne are on one income. But Leanne plans to return to work at some point, and Kris’ salary will also increase.


This couple’s experience might resonate with a lot of investors just starting out. After all, $2.5 million can feel like an impossible target to start, especially if you have a limited income right now. But you’ve got to do something, that’s the key. Things will, and do, get easier over time.

If you want the same service Kris and Leanne received, your next step is to book a Portfolio Planning Session with us here at Opes Partners.


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