Buying a house is a costly financial commitment with longstanding effects on your finances. Deciding how much mortgage you can afford and how you want to structure your payment schedule can make a big difference in your future.
Depending on your arrangement, you could be making payments on your property for 10, 20 or even 30 years. In that time you end up paying the principal back to the mortgage lender, what you borrowed, as well as interest. You may have realized that paying off your home faster than planned will save you money — but how do you make it happen?
Try these strategies to pay off your mortgage early and make your move toward financial freedom.
1. Reschedule Your Plan
One of the easiest ways to pay your mortgage off sooner than planned is changing your payment schedule. Try adding a little payment to your principal each time you can, thus shortening the overall length of your loan. It’s important to ensure that your efforts are working toward the principal balance and not set aside for future payments. You can also ask your lender about switching to biweekly payments and take advantage of the fact that there are 52 weeks in a year. Paying half your regular monthly mortgage payment every other week means you will make 26 half-payments or 13 full payments each year. This extra payment can shave you years off your mortgage plan.
Deciding to refinance your home can potentially save you thousands, but it’s not the right choice for everyone. Consider refinancing so you can obtain a lower interest rate on your mortgage or establish a shorter-term mortgage, paying less interest overall. To get the effect of a shorter-term, adjusted mortgage without any risk, keep a long-term loan but make increased payments as if you had refinanced — this keeps you in control, not the bank. In a similar vein, refinancing might keep you honest as you are committed to the higher payment and cannot use the money elsewhere each month.
Keep in mind that refinancing requires a credit check. You’ll want to make sure you haven’t let your credit scores slip since you applied for a loan, or you may not be getting a better deal on your monthly payment. You can check two of your credit scores for free every month on Credit.com.
3. Lump Sum
If you receive an unexpected chunk of change, consider putting the inheritance, tax refund or lottery winnings toward your home payments rather than an extravagant vacation or new toy. Making a lump sum payment on your loan can make a large dent in your repayments and the amount of interest you will pay. It’s important to check with your lender first to be sure you will not get hit with a prepayment penalty and review all your finances to be sure this is the first place your extra money should go. For example, you might want to set aside some of the money as an emergency fund if you don’t already have one.
Paying off your mortgage ahead of schedule can save thousands in interest and fees. Review your finances carefully and determine which method will work best for you and your home.
More on Mortgages and Refinancing:
- Why You Should Check Your Credit Before Buying a Home
- How to Find & Choose a Mortgage Lender
- How to Refinance Your Home Loan With Bad Credit