More than 90% of home buyers get a 30-year mortgage when they buy a home, and most of those homeowners take the full 30 years to pay it off. Many homeowners don't realize the potential benefits of paying off their mortgage early, including the financial freedom a mortgage-free house represents.
If you're a homeowner with a 30-year mortgage, below are some steps you can take to pay off your loan faster. In some cases, you can pay off your mortgage in as little as 10 years. Here's what you need to know.
1. Live On One Income
Many households have two adults, each earning an income. Often, these adults combine their incomes to pay bills and household expenses. While living on two incomes is comfortable, living on one income may be possible.
If living on one income is possible for you, apply one of your paychecks toward your mortgage. This may allow you to make your regularly scheduled payment and an additional one each month. The early payments will result in a dramatically shortened mortgage-repayment period.
2. Apply Your Tax Refund to Your Mortgage
The average tax refund in 2019 was between $2,300 and $3,200 per household. Applying that entire refund to your house payment could result in an extra payment or two per year, depending on how much you pay each month toward your mortgage.
A tax refund is an especially painless way to pay down your mortgage, because many households don't count on a refund.
3. Refinance Your Mortgage
If you're paying a high interest rate on your mortgage, or maybe if you're paying mortgage insurance because you made a small down payment on your house, refinancing your mortgage at a lower rate could save you hundreds of dollars every month. Once you've refinanced, any extra money you save can be applied to the principal balance.
When deciding whether refinancing is a good idea, talk to your mortgage lender and perhaps a financial adviser. Refinancing fees add up, and recovering that money takes time. Also, refinancing your mortgage resets the clock, so if you’ve already paid 5 years of a 30-year mortgage and then refinance with a new 30-year mortgage, your payments might be lower but you’ve extended the time needed to pay off the loan. To ensure that your refinancing is handled properly, talk to an expert.
4. Apply Extra Cash To Your Mortgage
In addition to your tax refund, apply extra cash to your mortgage. When you get a raise, apply some or all of that money to your mortgage. When you get a gift, or when you sell a car, or when you get any unexpected windfall that results in money in your pocket, consider applying that extra cash to your mortgage.
5. Purchase Your Home for an Affordable Price
If you're a home buyer and you hope to pay off your mortgage in 10 years, one of the most important things you can do is buy a home that's affordable. The more expensive your home, the more difficult it will be to make extra payments.
Ask yourself what you really need in a home in order to be happy. Make a list of priority features, and avoid looking at homes that have costly additional features. Every additional room or feature comes at a cost.
Determine at the beginning of your house-hunting experience how much you can afford, and stay within your price range. Do not look at homes that go above your price range unless you believe that your real estate professional can negotiate the price down.
6. Be Frugal
The key to paying off your mortgage early is being frugal. Shop sales. Avoid shopping at the last minute. Budget for vacations, gifts, food and other activities. Don't exceed your budget once it's set. Pay for groceries in cash, and carry only as much cash as you need to pay for the items on your shopping list.
Ask yourself before making any purchase whether you really need the good or service. Is the purchase really important for your happiness or for the happiness of those in your family? Analyzing all of your purchases will help you learn to live with less.
If you're dedicated to paying your mortgage in as little as 10 years, the first thing you should do is talk to an accountant or financial adviser. No two mortgage payers have identical circumstances. A financial advisor can help you determine exactly what you need to do in order to pay off your mortgage in 10 years.
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