Manual labor stinks, but it certainly helped him think toward the future.

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Andrew and his wife started building their house when he turned 30. It’s a bungalow. Andrew told me they chose that style because “we don’t want to walk up stairs when we get older.”

I thought the guy must be crazy and smart — thinking 40 or 50 years ahead. But that’s Andrew, who runs Family Money Plan.

For example: After they finished the house, he spent a long weekend preparing for a landscaping project by digging holes for trees — “20 holes, each hole about 3 feet wide in diameter and between 18-24 inches deep,” said Andrew. “And I’m not good at manual labor but I saved $1,500 doing it.”

But another chunk of money kept creeping into Andrew’s thoughts that weekend as he dug and dug.

“I couldn’t stop thinking about our 30 year mortgage of over $320,000,” said Andrew. “I remember realizing, by the time we paid it off my youngest son would be two years older than me. And it spooked me.”

Here’s another scary thought he shared. “When I looked at our mortgage, over 30 years, the interest would tack on an additional $295,755.” After careful planning, he and his wife did something about it.

They both work good jobs, so they “matched payments, increased our payment by 15 percent for the first couple years then turned to lump sum payments and made paying off our mortgage our number one priority.” That meant some heavy sacrifices.

“Nothing was beneath us,” reflected Andrew. “Any way we could make extra money, or save money, we did.” They stopped eating out, didn’t travel for five straight years, basically became a boring couple and for four years he and his wife split a flip phone on a $19.99 monthly plan.

They sacrificed more, including no alcohol for the first few years, basic cable, using the local library for books and movies, etc., but I’m ending this profile on something that really interested me — how he and his wife heat and cool their home.

This hearkens back to their long-term planning obsession. And it also saves them money.

It’s cold where he lives in Winnipeg.  He said, “One winter it actually got colder here for one day than on Mars!”

During the building process he payed a little extra for a geothermal system from a company called WaterFurnace. His house uses a “vertical loop” with two underground wells. Complicated stuff.

Andrew said the system “pulls the water from one well, uses the temperature from the ground to heat or cool the water and drops it into the other well for a continuous flow.” It also cools or heats the air in the house.

Anyway, without getting too technical, his electric bill is half what neighbors spend. For example, while many around him pay nearly $400, they pay $170 a month for all electricity. “We can keep our house at 77 degrees all year round,” noted Andrew. That’s planning for the future.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. They also paid off their mortgage in only six years.

Meet the Author

Brian Bienkowski

Brian Bienkowski


Bienkowski is a contributing writer and is the face of's 'By the Numbers' videos.

Budgeting & Saving, Home

Financial Profiling, mortgages, save money

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Article last modified on October 18, 2017 Published by, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: Digging Holes Helped Andrew From Family Money Plan Pay Down Debt - AMP.