Let’s say a benevolent stranger handed you $2,000. (Hey, a person can dream—though if you qualify for our Mortgage Credit Certificate program, that so-called stranger would be Uncle Sam.) Would making an extra mortgage payment be the wisest way to put that money to work for you? The answer is a resounding ‘maybe’—because like fingerprints, every financial situation is unique.
This fun-to-think-about scenario does bring up an important financial discussion though. Namely, what should you do if you happen to have a little extra dough on hand and you’re not exactly debt-free? Let’s review some options.
Shaving Time & Interest Paid On Your Mortgage
First, let’s look at the numbers if you were to apply extra funds to your mortgage payment. The fine folks at interest.com already did the math, so we won’t reinvent the wheel. Based on a 30-year mortgage, a $200,000 loan and an interest rate of 4%, this is what paying additional money toward your principal can save in time and interest:
Additional Payment Time Saved Interest Saved
$100/month 4 years, 11 months $26,854
$200/month 8 years, 5 months $44,929
$300/month 11 years $58,009
Want to play around with your personal payoff scenarios? There’s a calculator for that. Just plug in the years remaining on your mortgage, original loan amount, additional monthly payment and annual interest rate, and voila!
We know the thought of ditching your mortgage early can be appealing. However, it’s not always in your best interest—literally and figuratively speaking. Tax implications and investment strategies need to be taken into account, as well as the following three options for putting your money to good use.
If you have the room to get ahead, one of the very first considerations many financial advisors recommend is paying off credit card balances and other high-interest accounts. Not only are you paying less to borrow money with your mortgage versus high-interest accounts; you are reducing your balance-to-limit ratio by paying down your credit card balances, which positively affects your FICO score. Getting ahead on your mortgage doesn’t have the same impact.
Another top consideration is contributing toward the emergency fund you’ve set aside. (You started that, right?) Look just about anywhere online and experts will tell you to expect the unexpected by saving enough to cover several months worth of bills. And you should, because you never know.
Thirdly, consider contributing to your retirement account before paying down your mortgage. Why? Let’s say you have a 401(k) with employer match. The long and short of it is that your employer will contribute to your plan. That’s free money. Not only does free money not happen every day, it adds up over time, and that’s a beautiful thing. Also, if you have an individual retirement account (IRA), contributing non-taxable funds (as long as you don’t withdraw early) is another way to save money over the long haul—and we’re all about that.
It’s Time For The Pros
We don’t pretend to be financial gurus, and we’re not tax specialists, so consider this merely a discussion—not advice. We’ll leave that to the pros.
However, one piece of sage advice we are qualified to give is to take advantage of our Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC) program. Homebuyers who are eligible can get a tax credit of about $2,000 every year and tax savings are in place for the life of your loan. Just choose a HIP-qualified lender and real estate agent to help you get started.