If you can afford to pay extra on your mortgage every month, it seems to make sense to do so, right?
Surprisingly, the experts are divided on whether it’s such a good idea. Like many things in life, paying off your mortgage early has its pros and cons. Let’s take a look at some of the most significant.
Why you might want to consider paying your mortgage off early
Financial experts who agree that hacking away at your mortgage every month is a good idea point primarily to the interest you’re shelling out.
The president’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, however, has changed that scenario. First, the cap on interest has been lowered. Next, you’ll need to itemize your deductions on your taxes to get the benefit of the mortgage interest deduction. This means foregoing the new, increased, standard deduction.
Obviously, this is something you want to run by your accountant or tax specialist.
Other than that, those who think paying the loan off early give good reasons for suggesting it:
- Peace of mind. What would you do with the money you’d have every month if you didn’t have to make a mortgage payment? That’s one heck of a feeling of security.
- The more you pay off every month, the more equity you’ll earn. This is especially important for older Americans. With high equity, or owning the home outright, comes the ability to qualify for a reverse mortgage, which is a safety net for many on a fixed income.
- Do it for the kids. When the home is owned free and clear, there’s a better chance it will remain in the family. Regardless of whether this is important to you, it creates a “forced savings” plan for your heirs.
Reasons to reconsider paying your mortgage early
- Earlier we addressed taxes and your mortgage. Keep in mind that “if the interest on your mortgage is less than the standard deduction, you aren’t getting an additional tax benefit,” according to Forbes contributor Nancy Anderson.
- The extra payments shouldn’t take priority over other sound financial strategies, such as building an emergency fund and another for home maintenance needs.
- Some financial experts claim that a better use of the extra money every month is to put it toward getting out of credit card and other debt with high interest rates.
- “the amount you save in interest likely won’t exceed what you would earn in other long-term investments, such as stocks and real estate,” according to the pros at BankRatecom.
- In the event of an economic downturn it may be important to have a portion of your money in liquid assets, such as the aforementioned stocks. A home isn’t considered a liquid asset.
Sometimes the choice that makes sense doesn’t always offer peace-of-mind. Regardless of is more important to you, we urge you to speak with a financial planner to determine the best course of action.