Paying off your mortgage isn't a race, but paying it off in fewer than 15 years does have several benefits. You end up paying less when you pay more quickly. Knocking out your mortgage in fewer than 15 years also means you have less debt to worry about and less risk of not being able to make the payments on your home.
Pay Every Two Weeks
When you pay half your monthly mortgage payment every two weeks, you wind up making 13 full payments on your mortgage every year, instead of only 12. Making a half payment biweekly shaves about a year or more off your mortgage, depending on the amount of interest you owe. To make biweekly payments, divide the amount of your monthly payment in half and pay one half every two weeks.
Tack on an extra amount of money when you pay your mortgage monthly. The amount you can afford to pay extra depends on your financial status. It can change from month to month if your income fluctuates. When you receive a raise, funnel the extra amount to your mortgage payments. The same is true when you receive a bonus from your job. If you usually receive a bonus at the end of the year, you can make one big extra payment instead of monthly extra payments.
If you are confident that your financial situation won't change drastically, you can refinance your 15-year mortgage to a 10-year or shorter term. Refinancing only makes sense if several conditions apply, according Elisabeth Reamy of ABC News. The interest rate should be lower than what you currently pay, at least half a percentage point lower, but preferably 1 or 2 percent lower. The closing costs of the refinance should be less the the amount you will save by refinancing in the long run, or else there is no point to doing it.
Before you decide to focus your money on paying down your mortgage, be sure you are free of other, more expensive debts. For example, if you have substantial credit card debt at 20 percent interest and a mortgage at 5 percent interest, it makes better financial sense to turn your attention to the credit card debt first. Also review all the paperwork of your mortgage to make sure you won't be hit with a prepayment penalty when you pay off the entire amount early. If you plan on making multiple payments a month, make sure your lender allows you to do so without charging a fee.
Based in Pennsylvania, Emily Weller has been writing professionally since 2007, when she began writing theater reviews Off-Off Broadway productions. Since then, she has written for TheNest, ModernMom and Rhode Island Home and Design magazine, among others. Weller attended CUNY/Brooklyn college and Temple University.