When SHOULD You Pay Down Your Mortgage?
In the previous article, we discussed why paying down your mortgage might not be the right choice for many homeowners since you could use any extra cash in higher return investments or maintain easier access to these funds than being tied up in your home.
However, there are some situations where paying down a mortgage does make sense, such as when you’re approaching retirement and you want to be debt-free at that point in your life in your forever home.
Plus, other homeowners not near retirement might be thinking of paying down their mortgage sooner since they hate paying interest and “wasting money.”
Either way, you need to answer some important questions to see if and when paying down or paying off your mortgage will be beneficial to you – whether it’s financial or emotional goal.
What is your life like right now and near future?
Depending on your answers, you’ll know if you should be using extra cash toward your mortgage.
- Do you need funds for daycare, commuting or car costs, college saving for kids, family vacations, or other essentials or goals that should take priority now?
- And if this isn’t your forever home, do you need to save for your next home?
- Do you have other higher interest debt you should focus on rather than use extra cash for paying down your mortgage? Car loans, student loans, credit card bills, etc should not be overlooked.
- Is your income stable now and in the long term?
If you have extra cash, no other debt, and maxed out retirement options, then making additional payments on your mortgage could be a good choice if you have a certain date in mind to be debt-free with your home.
What do you see for your life ahead?
Many homeowners as they near retirement might have some peace of mind to own their home outright and not have to still be making loan payments. They don’t want to sell their home and want to stay put and use that extra cash for travel, hobbies or additional health care costs.
Is this you? If so, make sure you haven’t shortchanged your retirement savings over the years and are on track for that before you start to pay down your mortgage. Most financial experts will tell you to focus on your retirement plans or look into other higher yielding options to make the most of your money.
Will this be your forever home?
If you see this home as your forever home, then carefully weigh the pros and cons of putting extra money toward it at some point. You might not be ready now but as you get older and have less expenditures or financial obligations, it could be the right step for you to be debt-free in your home sweet home.
But if this isn’t going to be your forever home, then paying off the mortgage might not be the best decision. You’ve heard the term, “House rich but cash poor.” You want to have your money where you can touch it if you need it.
Remember that your money will be tied up into a home and its equity if you put it toward your mortgage principal. You will no longer have the flexibility to use extra money for any unexpected emergencies or expenditures, plus you could risk losing money if a housing crisis occurs and its value drops. You’ll need to have a clearer picture (or crystal ball!) of your local housing market!
What’s the primary reason you want to pay off your mortgage?
Many homeowners have an underlying reason that they are determined to pay off their mortgage early and live more debt-free. If it’s something that means a lot to you and how you view debt and financial goals, then it’s something to consider and come up with a workable plan.
Two of the main reasons to pay off or down your mortgage are:
1. You hate paying interest and feel strongly about wasting money that way. Most homeowners don’t like paying interest on their mortgage but some really hate this fact and think it’s money down the drain, while others accept that it’s the cost of getting a loan and buying their home.
If saving money on interest is a driving factor for you, then paying down your mortgage could give you the satisfaction you want. Just be sure that putting your extra cash into your home where you can’t touch it won’t become a problem if something unforeseen happens.
2. You want to stop worrying about what will happen to your home when you’re older. For many retirees, the peace of mind of not having mortgage payments wins out. Knowing that you can’t lose your home because of lack of funds or from an unexpected health emergency can ease worries about the future as you get older.
Some homeowners know that their parents did the same thing and had a sense of accomplishment to reach their retirement years this way. If that’s you and you don’t see yourself downsizing to something smaller, then you can work toward this goal when the time is right on your current home.
However, some homeowners sell their current home and use the profit of their sale to buy a smaller home without a loan — that also can achieve both peace of mind when it comes time not to have a mortgage.
Do you understand any tax implications when your mortgage is gone?
Many homeowners think about the benefit of deducting their mortgage interest rate and that can influence them to keep their mortgage. However, this perk isn’t a tax credit and as you near retirement, it may not outweigh other benefits to paying off your mortgage.
Take the time to figure out how your tax situation may or may not be affected when you stop having a mortgage. Work with a financial and tax advisor so that you can better understand if you’ll benefit from not having a mortgage anymore.
Explore your options and start planning ahead
As you can see, there are many questions you need to ask yourself about your financial goals now and in the future.
Paying off your mortgage early or paying it down with extra funds may or may not be the smartest financial move for you.
Keep in mind, that even if you pay off your mortgage, you still have to pay your property taxes and HOA (if applicable) – those never go away!
These are just some things to consider. If you’d like to talk more, email me and we can set up a time to talk. I can also refer you to financials advisors, accountants or loan officers that can help as well.
I'm Carmen Cotto-Rivera and I love helping first time home buyers, including Spanish speakers, buyer their first home. I also love helping sellers looking to move up or downsize to their next home. Let me know how I can help you make your real estate goals come true.
921 Pleasant Valley Av
Mt. Laurel, NJ 08054
Buyers: tips and advice on buying your first home
My Listings (and their stories)
Sellers: tips on home maintenance and prepping your home for sale
schedule your free consultation