Home Experts: Local News
6 ways to retire without a mortgage
Story Updated: Jan 16, 2012
Paying off a home loan by the time you stop working can mean greater financial security. Whether you start early or later in life, there's more than one approach to consider.
Admit it: Whether you're 35 or 65, the prospect of retiring without a mortgage is an attractive one. No more monthly checks to your lender means extra money to spend on having fun once you exit the workforce. After years of punctual principal-and-interest payments, it's the least you deserve, right?
There are several smart ways to retire without a mortgage. We've come up with six that fit a variety of retirement scenarios. Some approaches benefit from an early start -- so if you are able, try to plan ahead. Other mortgage-free-retirement options can be put into effect even if you're close to collecting Social Security.
Some retirees don't mind a mortgage, be it for the tax write-off or to keep too much money from being tied up in home equity. But if your goal is the peace of mind that comes with paying off your loan before you reach retirement, check out these six ways to retire without a mortgage.
1. Make extra mortgage payments
Over time, a few bucks here and there tacked on to your mortgage payment can translate into thousands of dollars saved on interest and years shaved off the repayment period. The trick is to find small ways to cut corners on other household expenses so you can apply those modest savings toward your mortgage. Simply swapping out traditional incandescent light bulbs for compact fluorescent lights, for example, can save you $50 a year in energy costs. A programmable thermostat can save you up to $180 annually.
A little extra goes a long way. A $200,000 mortgage at 6% over 30 years works out to a monthly payment of about $1,200 (excluding taxes and insurance). You'll pay just over $231,000 in interest alone. But put an extra $100 a month toward the same mortgage and you'll save nearly $50,000 in interest and retire the loan five and a half years early.
2. Refinance your mortgage
A surefire way to trim the bill for your home loan is to refinance your mortgage to a lower rate for an equal or greater period of time. You'll enjoy reduced payments and less strain on your bank account. Not a bad idea if money is tight. What you won't enjoy is a mortgage-free retirement.
To pay off your mortgage early via refinancing, you'll need to switch to a shorter-term loan. In 2011, a popular refi option for homeowners who weren't underwater was going from a 30-year mortgage to a 15-year loan.