Going Debt Free with Greentech.

This is the solar hot water heater and photovoltaic panels on my roof:

front of roof

For the last few years I’ve been teaching the “Go Debt Free” class at my church in Land O Lakes. Since 2014 I’ve personally paid off over $300,000 in debt, which is really my only qualification to teach the class!

My best student paid off $100K in debt within 2 years of taking my class.

The word “mortgage” actually comes from the French word “morte”, meaning death…. so your mortgage is really a “payment unto death”. It doesn’t have to be. You can pay off your mortgage in your 30’s or 40’s if you’re intentional about it.

I’m proud to say that my recurring monthly expenses are one third to one half my income, since I’m paid on commission which varies from month to month. My debt had been a combination of 2 mortgages, business loans, credit cards and car payments. The combined payments on $300,000 in debt was a crushing $4,200 per month. Ouch.

So what does green technology have to do with going debt free? Isn’t green technology far more expensive than standard technology?

Let’s look at cars for a minute.

When the Toyota Prius hit the market 18 years ago it cost $25,000, far more expensive than a $18,000 Toyota Camry LE model. The Prius got 48 miles per gallon, the 4 cylinder Camry got 28 miles per gallon. At $3 dollars per gallon over 100,000 miles the Prius owner will spend $6,200 on gasoline while the less efficient Camry driver will spend $10,700 at the pump.

Buying a new Prius does not make sense, but when you research the prices of a 3 year old Prius versus a 3 year old Camry (with similar mileage) the prices evened out. Most USED car buyers will own a car until it hits very high mileage (this is financially smart). As used cars you can get either model with 50,000 miles for about $16,000. Assume that you drive both cars for another 150,000 miles at $3 per gallon… the Camry driver will spend a whopping $16,000 at the pump, while the Prius driver will only part with $9,300 for gas.

What does green tech have to do with paying off debt? Take the $6,700 you will save by driving a Prius and pay down the mortgage on your home, or put that money in your child’s college fund, or just evaporate one of your credit card balances.

Most people don’t look at small recurring costs as huge long term costs. Who knew that a Camry uses $16,000 in gas over 150,000 miles? We just pay it and don’t think about it because we don’t think there is another option.

There is another cost in your life that most people are blind to because they feel powerless to get rid of it. If you own a home and pay $200 per month for electricity that’s $2,400 per year, well over $26,000 over the next decade when you factor in rate hikes and inflation.

A $150 per month electric bill is $19,000 over the next decade….

Most people think solar on your roof is far more than your electric costs. Not true since panel prices hit grid parity in 2016. A solar array that will generate $26,000 over the next decade (that’s a 10.5kW system) will cost you less than $18,000, even if you finance it. The array will evaporate a $200 per month bill and replace it with a $165 per month payment.

When the system is paid off in the next 6 years you will only pay a small monthly fee to the electric company. Currently the TECO fee is $17 per month, Duke energy’s fee is only $9.

The solar on my roof here in Wesley Chapel lowered my bill by $200 per month, $2,400 per year… my payment is only $135 per month because I put money down on the system.

Even after my solar pays for itself it will add value to my home. The panels have a 25 year warranty, so they should last decades. I’ll get my money back 3 or 4 times if I don’t move.

A few years ago I bought a 2013 Chevy Volt that runs on electricity only for the first 40 miles after a charge. This means that the solar on my roof is charging my car for FREE. The Volt only uses gasoline after the electric charge is exhausted, so there are many days when I use ZERO gasoline.

Consider your finances if you never spent another cent on gasoline… especially when gasoline goes over $4 per gallon. Some people spend $300 per month on gas alone. What if you used that $300 towards the principal on your mortgage?

By putting solar on my roof and driving a plug-in electric vehicle my costs for electricity and gas will be at least $15,000 LESS over the next decade. If I sell my home I’ll get a higher market value because of my array on the roof, especially as electric cars become more common.

You get what you focus on, you are less likely to take on silly debt when you are moving towards a debt free lifestyle. Read some Dave Ramsey books, get a notebook and start writing down your total debt numbers… as you get rid of debt your stress level will go down and you’ll find financial peace.

Ben Alexander / Sales Director for Tampa Bay Solar 813-391-3895    

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