How a Boot Camp member saved $75,000 on his mortgage

Ramit Sethi · December 1st, 2009

Here are early results from Week 1 (credit cards) of my ongoing Boot Camp.

Last month, I launched the 6-week I Will Teach You To Be Rich Boot Camp, which is currently happening on a private site.

I was tired of people reading and reading but not actually taking DOING the necessary steps to dominate their finances, so I put together a six-week Boot Camp to power through the logistics and help people start of 2010 with a fully automated system.

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View Results

It doesn’t matter how many blogs or books or magazines you read — ultimately, results matter.

A few hundred people decided to invest in themselves to take action.

Let’s see what some of them have done in the first week alone.

She saved $75,000+ on her mortgage

“Refinanced my mortgage from a 5/1 interest only ARM at 6.375% to a 30 year fixed at 5.25%. This will cost me ~$100 more a month, but I am paying ~$120/mo on equity in my house instead of it ALL being interest to the bank. Assuming that my ARM interest rate would have stayed the same (almost certainly would rise with inflationary pressures I see coming) at 6.25%, refinancing to a fixed @ 5.25% will save me $75,106.47 over the life of the loan. This is a CONSERVATIVE estimate!

Thanks, Ramit, for the bootcamp. It made me take ACTION!”
–T. Munroe

Raised credit score

“With a single phone call, I raised my credit limit from $9,000 to $15,300 (even though I asked for $11,000).”
–E. Yee

Uncovered $200 in free gift cards

“I checked my rewards points on my credit card and found out I could redeem $200 dollars worth of gift cards, which could’ve gone without notice.”
–S. Shin

Saved $600/year on car payments

“OK, good one. I refinanced my car to both lower the interest and the monthly. Now I will own the car and have $53 less per month to pay. I can use this to ‘snowball’ the payments on my credit cards. yes!”
–E. Friedman

Started paying off debt

“I have 3 credit cards with 5K spread across them. This week I have finally paid off one credit card (1K) off after having had a balance on it for 3 years. I was grinning with glee as I paid it off on Thursday!! 1 down two more to go. I plan to use the snowball effect to get the next one paid off in the next 6 weeks, making payments every two weeks. This will increase my credit utilization ratio and increase my Fico score. This will help me leaps in bounds as I have learned that my Fico score can save me thousands in interest rates as I prepare to take out student loans to go back to school!! Talk about big picture savings. Andy’s chart really struck home.”
–C. Dewey

This week’s material included:

  • A live mini-talk from me on productivity & time-management tactics — with tactics I’ve never released
  • A private webcast from ex-MyFico executive Andy Jolls of

The Boot Camp is closed, but if you want to get notified when the next one launches in 2010, click here.

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  1. Andrew Barbour

    Not to nitpick or anything, but raising one’s credit limit and raising one’s credit score are very different things…

  2. Femtoman

    Andrew: Asking for credit limit increases on a periodic basis, typically annually, does increase your credit score since part of the FICO formula includes your credit utilization ratio. By increasing your available credit, your credit utilization ratio decreases, which increases your credit score.

  3. Writers Coin

    Andrew is right though: that’s kind of a large jump to make. It will take time for that credit score to change and who knows by how much, especially depending on the other factors.

  4. Rafa Rengel

    Hi! please Do the Boot Camp again! I know you told us in advance…but…
    I was afraid it took too much time to follow the Boot Camp. I work for a company and overtime as a freelance. Do you think there is an express version?

  5. No offence to Ramit, but quite alot of testimonies posted are seriously simple stuff. Refinancing mortgage? Raising credit card limit? Redeeming some gift cards from your credit card rewards program? Come on… these stuff are basic common sense! Does the Boot Camp *really* work, or does it just appear to work because the participants of this Boot Camp are just plain idiots?

  6. WTF? Every one of these examples has to do with debt. Is this bootcamp about “Getting Rich”, or is it about how to make the most of your “living-beyond-your-means” lifestyle?

    In the first example, is T. Munroe’s old interest rate 6.375% or 6.25%? Both are mentioned, and it’s not clear. Also, does the $75,000 he’s “saving” on his/her mortgage include the $36,000 in extra payments (extra $100/month for 30 years)? I wanted to do the calculation myself to see, but there are too many variables missing.

    As others have mentioned, the second example is also misleading. Credit limit and credit score are very different beasts, and neither one is very relevant regarding building wealth. I’m not sure there’s anything here worth celebrating – all they’ve done is obtained more rope with which to hang themselves.

    The $200 in gift cards is a good one, but again, was obtained through judicious use of debt.

    C. Dewey should think outside the box a little and figure out a way to pay CASH to go back to school, instead of just assuming the only way to do it is through piling on more debt.

    All in all, I really hope there are more rewarding examples of people building actual WEALTH in future updates regarding the bootcamp. It really is disappointing how much “Personal Finance” blogs focus on poor people and debt, especially when they profess to be about building wealth (“I Will Teach You To Be Rich,” and “Get Rich Slowly” being the obvious worst offenders).

    I have no debt. I already have an awesome credit score. I’ve already beaten down my phone/TV company to get the best rates. I already cook all my own meals. I already take the bus to work. I have $40,000/year available to invest and build wealth. What should I do with it?

    • Ramit Sethi

      Kevin, that was week 1 (credit), so of course the biggest results generally have to do with debt. But we also had dozens and dozens of Big Wins in productivity, automation, and more in the first week. In general, I rarely write about debt on this site and prefer to focus on the things to do once you’ve paid off debt and are earning a great income.

      For Garrett, please re-read the post launching the Boot Camp. This is where I talk about the Manifest Destiny Fallacy, where people think they need some secret new information to get rich, but they actually already have what they need — they just haven’t done it. The entire point of the Boot Camp is to get them to implement the changes, no matter how complex or simple.

      If the Boot Camp isn’t for you, I’m also working on a few more advanced projects that might be a better fit. Stay tuned. And send me an email if there’s something specific you’d be interested in seeing. Thanks guys.

  7. Garrett,
    The whole point of the boot camp is for people to take ACTION regardless of how simple some of the ideas might be. Please reread the boot camp details before you start tossing insults.

  8. @kevin
    If Ramit knew what to do with it he’d be rich himself. The title of the blog is misleading. Ramit can’t teach you to be rich. He can give you sound financial advice for a price. That will make him rich and might save you a few bucks if you had bad financial habits. I always laugh when i see suzie orman yelling at people not to buy a bike for their daughters birthday but pushing her 200$ financial package as if there’s no tomorrow when most of the advice is already on the net.

  9. Ramit,

    I missed the part about Week 1 being about Credit. I look forward to future updates. I love hearing about peoples’ successes, especially when their tactics are applicable to myself.

  10. Mark Wolfinger

    I get the benefits of refinancing, but to claim that your correspondent ‘saved’ $76,000 is ludicrous.

    “Saved’ is a word that refers to the past tense. If and when the mortgage is paid, then you can count the savings. In fact, it’s likely this house will be sold far earlier than when the mortgage is paid off, reducing the savings by a huge amount.

    I like your enthusiasm, but let;s be honest with the numbers used.


  11. I see that these are testimonials from the credit part of the boot camp, but they’re also everything I’ve already done, or didn’t get into that situation to begin with (ie drive a used car so no lease, no CC debt). I’m glad I didn’t pay to attend the bootcamp. What I think would be more useful is a boot camp on how to launch your freelance career, or get started in your own business when you still have to work 8 to 5 and are almost too tired to do anything when you get home. And I think something step by step and very basic (how to make a website), as I often don’t have the time or energy to research a lot of that stuff.

  12. I’m totally confused about the title of this post. Who “saved $76k on his mortgage”? First example says T. munro saved $75k+ on her mortgage. Did you forget to proofread, or is this missing another mortgage example?

    • Ramit Sethi

      K cool, Scott, it sounds like other stuff I’m working on might be better suited for you. Stay tuned.

      Kelsey, are you really that confused by a 1-digit typo? 🙂 I changed the title of the post. Thanks for catching it.

  13. Yes, this may seem like easy stuff for some people. (people who are financially literate.) For some people these are huge leaps and bounds from where they once were.
    I remember the first Online savings account i set up and how proud i felt. It was dumb but i felt good even though most people should do it.

    Or mention my friend who negotiated his car loan from 13% to 11%. That is not AMAZING, but that is one of the first things he has ever done to actively improve his situation. It was kind of a big deal. He looked towards me for an Atta-boy. I told him it wasn’t a big deal. He should have listened to me in the first place and never taken the 13% car loan.

    In short- Action is harder for some people, and when they do take baby steps they are excited. Sure these might seem like no brainers to us. The point is Ramit is changing their lives.

  14. Whoa… what’s up with all the hostility on here??? Hats off to Ramit for staying so cool under fire…

    I’ve been following this blog for a while now and I feel like it’s pretty damn decent. Sure it can be fairly basic (not everyone is as awesome/smart/cool/rich as you, Kevin) and I don’t always agree with everything on here (Tip #6: “Use gas prices to become your own hedge fund” is not technically hedging at all), but it’s FREE and it get’s people to THINK about their money. I don’t really understand why people have to get off by coming on here and getting in everyone’s face over whether or not someone “saved” $76,000 on their mortgage. Sure, T. Munroe will probably sell before 30 years is up and won’t realize every single one of those $76,000 dollars, but the point is that Ramit got him to think about his finances and he got out of a pretty questionable ARM and into a 30 year fixed loan at a time that may prove to have the lowest fixed interest rates in many years.

    Anyway, this happens on every post and it seriously irritates me. People like you, Garrett, have to get on here and call everyone “idiots.” Awesome. Thanks for your financial advice. Next time you call someone an idiot, don’t also include a sentence like this in your post: ” these stuff are basic common sense!”… idiot.

    Sorry for the rant, but this website is a free service (I know the boot camp isn’t free, but if you dont want it, don’t buy it.) The fact is, this is a place where people can share opinions about money. Not everyone will know everything, but they want to learn, not get ridiculed. Next time, just think twice about coming on here and insulting everything. PLEASE make comments that are constructive, helpful, or educational.

    • Ramit Sethi

      Darin I love you. And I mean that in the most bromantic way possible.

  15. Darin, great comment! I second your thoughts.

    Kevin, why do you have so much hatred? Being rich is different for everyone. For some people, getting out of debt or negotiating their CC / mortgage will make them rich. For others, it’s spending quality time with their family. The Boot Camp isn’t a 2 minute get rich program and it was never advertised as that.

    You have no debt, already have an awesome credit score, and cook all your meals. Good for you! But you have $40K and don’t know what to do with it?! Why even ask that vague question? Do the work yourself then ask a specific question! You’re here arguing minutiae, while people in the Boot Camp are actually doing something! God you’re annoying!

  16. Thanks, Bro


  17. Kristen from FiLife

    It’s nice to hear about people making real changes in their financial lives thanks to content they are finding online. Ramit: nice work!

  18. Yeah Ramit,

    This boot camp sounded kick ass and I was excited when you announced it, but I’m really eager to hear what you have in store for us “advanced” readers.

    I’m staying tuned.

  19. “Being rich is different for everyone. For some people, getting out of debt or negotiating their CC / mortgage will make them rich.”

    Farrell, while I agree that everyone has a different definition of how much money it takes to be considered “rich,” it seems that you’re suggesting that even $0 can be considered “rich”, as long as the individual has no debt. I would humbly suggest that nobody actually believes that. Paying off debt is not the same as being “rich.”

    I was expressing frustration at a site that professes to teach me to be rich was instead promoting examples of people playing games with credit and debt, to try and make the best of some bad situations. As I already admitted, I didn’t notice that week 1 was devoted to “credit.” I mistakenly believed that the whole focus of the Bootcamp would be similar to the examples presented (that is, optimizing credit and debt), and that seemed to stand in stark juxtaposition with the stated mandate of this site, in my opinion.

    I don’t think any of my statements were off-the-mark. It’s TRUE that extending your line of credit is nothing to be proud of. It’s TRUE that C. Dewey would be better off paying cash for his/her continuing education. If you don’t like the message, don’t shoot the messenger.

    Regarding my own situation, I think your sarcastic endorsement of my current situation was uncalled for. I don’t think my situation is anything to be proud of, or all that unusual. Aren’t all those things (being debt free, cooking our own meals, protecting our credit score) things we should all be doing, anyway? Particularly readers of PF sites like Ramit’s? Aren’t YOU debt-free? Don’t YOU cook your own meals? I don’t think I’m that unusual, which is precisely the reason for my disdain. I think the audience of people like me is much, much larger than you seem to think, which is why I would encourage Ramit to write articles targetting us. There are an enormous number of us out here who have already nailed the basics, and are ready for the advanced stuff. 401(k) or 403(b)? Joint or separate Roth IRAs? Invest up to company match, or paydown the mortgage? Gold or oil? Treasury Bills or Municipal Bonds? How do I run my small business in the most tax-efficient way possible? There is a huge field here, ripe for being explored, and I think Ramit is among a very small pool of bloggers with the credibility and audience to tackle it in a meaningful way. The Money Diaries series has been extremely successful, how about a new series focusing on the other end – people who are already wealthy and how they maintain it? Or interviews with wealthy people, explaining how they got there? Maybe a Q&A with a lottery winner would be interesting. There are all kinds of directions Ramit could go with this.

    I’m “arguing minutae, while people in the Boot Camp are actually doing something?” I’ve already “done” several things to get to the point I’m currently at. I paid off student loans, lines of credit, car loans, and credit cards. They didn’t magically pay themselves off. The same habits that let me achieve those goals are the same habits that has brought me to a position of having $40k/year to invest.

    What are YOU doing?

  20. cukamunger

    You know, as much as I love hearing about this bootcamp stuff, I miss the money diaries. Ramit, don’t you have enough of those things stored up to post one a week?

  21. Foxie @ CarsxGirl

    I’d love to pay cash for school, but I hate to say that it’s not possible in every situation. (Or the option isn’t appealing, depending on your situation. Sure I bet I could try, but at what cost? More than I’m willing to pay. I’ve got the debt.)

    @Kevin – I don’t think it’s a shooting of the messenger for the message, so much as a shooting of the messenger for the tone of the message. Criticism can come in constructive forms without the negative tone, and there’s definitely somewhat of a snobbish slant to it.

    I think it’s great that people are finally stepping up and making a change. The sad thing is, when you get your financial life in order, it really doesn’t get any easier. I’ve found that if I’m not in the act of actively paying something off, it’s hard to keep up the focus. (Never mind I don’t make much money to begin with, I’m still in school with plenty of loans I get to pay back.) Whatever works, I guess.

    I’d also wager to guess that a lot of Ramit’s audience is younger in age, meaning that they’re probably still struggling with debt and/or establishing good financial habits. I don’t find the articles off-base to the audience if this truly is the case. I do think it would be helpful to include more for the “life after debt” view point, because it would either relate to other readers or simply motivate people more to get themselves to that state.

    More Money Diaries would be awesome, too. 😉 I’d do one to help out, but my financial life is kinda boring.

  22. Moneymonk

    ““OK, good one. I refinanced my car to both lower the interest and the monthly. Now I will own the car and have $53 less per month to pay.”

    I would argue that he now has longer payment terms in paying off the car. The goal should be to eliminate the debt not prolong it

    • Ramit Sethi

      That’s your goal, Moneymonk, not everyone’s. For example, I bought a car and could have paid it off in cash a few months later, but I intentionally chose to use debt to mitigate the risk of dropping $25k at once.

      There are different reasons to use debt, and they can let you make very shrewd decisions. But I have to admit, for most people in most situations, using debt usually is not the best financial strategy.

  23. Credit Card Chaser

    Great to see real stories of people putting principles into action. The $75,000 number could be slightly inflated when you take into account the fact that most people live in their homes for less than the full 30 years but even so I have no idea about that person’s specific situation so they very well could plan on living in their home for the life of the mortgage and actually do it. I do like seeing testimonials with specific numbers though so keep them coming! – Joel

  24. Credit Card Chaser


    Ramit is right because generally speaking the average consumer should try to pay off debt as soon as they can but for some debt can be a great way to build wealth. I had the option of paying off my mortgage in full this year but I chose not to because the ROI on putting that same chunk of money back into my business was much much higher than the ~5% after tax my mortgage debt load was costing me. – Joel

  25. Ramit, I didn’t join your boot camp because I couldn’t justify the cost to myself. BUT the words you wrote advertising it did make me get my ass in gear, finally open up a Roth IRA, fund it, and set an asset allocation. Now I’m finally paying into my retirement every month. Simple, yes, but it took 8 months to finally do it. So thanks for creating the boot camp, even though I didn’t use it!

  26. I have to agree with Jenni; when you started the boot camp I did get off my butt and opened an ING direct account.

  27. Garrett is a Troll

    Garrett = Troll

    Garrett, I bet the only reason your coming to read responses on this comments section is to see if anyone has responded to your insults.

    Read Darin’s post #16, worth mentioning: “Sure it can be fairly basic (…) and I don’t always agree with everything on here (…) but it’s FREE and it get’s people to THINK about their money.”

  28. Moneymonk

    Good points Ramit and Credit Card Chaser,

    Personal Finance is well, personal. I’m not too crazy about debt and I guess I always look at it from my point a view. I just like to get the debt out of the way.

    But the average person that is looking for help with finances do not have the type of money you guys have 🙂

    Thx for making me look at debt from a different perspective.

  29. Carrie Rattle

    Ramit’s intent is right. His point is to bridge the gap between not knowing to knowing, then from knowing to actually doing. I’ve been in financial services for +20 years and its amazing what people still don’t understand. But even folks who should know better (like bankers), still often don’t actually follow advice. Other motivators get in the way – keeping up with the neighbors, running a family + working 12 hours a day – you guys get the idea. To change a habit you need to execute the new behavior 3 times. Then it becomes a more natural default. Getting people to DO this stuff is the key. Go Ramit.

  30. Ramit: I think Kelsey was confused more by the 1-gender typo in the headline than the 1-digit typo. 😉

  31. Pastor Jim Kibler

    Nice article. I think the most important thing you are doing is pushing people into making a decision to get out of debt. The added bonus is that your are then showing them how to do it. Good job.

  32. @ Kevin –

    Great points – Thanks for making them, despite the somewhat underwhelming responses to your thoughtful posts.

    I, too, am curious as to where Ramit will take this blog, but agree with this notion that getting excited about not being an idiot is simply not inspiring enough for his entire readership. I would be much more interested if I got more about how to put that 40k to work for me (other than what I get sound long-term investment approaches – e.g., bogleheads forum, where people spend lots of time debating the many questions you raised in your last post). I feel the investment advice here is good for the starter crowd. On the other hand, Ramit’s not bound at all to an investment philosophy and can bring tons of interesting ideas to the table. Perhaps that’s the power of possibility here…

  33. Minority Fortune

    I think Ramit’s Boot Camp is a great thing. While not personally enlisted, I can appreciate it for its purpose. It may not pertain to everyone b/c everyone has their own goals when it comes to wealth. The Boot Camp certainly speaks to someone or else Ramit wouldn’t have several hundred participants using it right now. While others may have the basics down, there are millions who don’t, hence the dire state of our economy.

    However, sounds like Ramit is looking to engage the various wealth seekers that roam his blog. Look forward to the developments!

  34. At Kevin,

    If you are so disappointed with the information conatined in this web page or program, keep moving. No one is forcing you to read this or participate. If it does not cover the information you desire there are litterly thousands of web pages out there willing to teach you the investing basics!! If you already have this stuff down then keep your smart ass comments to yourself and stop posting on this site unless this is your job, to browse the net a make negative comments on other peoples work and the good things they are trying to do. Good luck in life, you need it.

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