Denise Dutson's Blog
Two thirds of American homeowners are somewhere in the process of paying off a mortgage. It may seem like common sense that everyone should try to pay off their mortgage sooner rather than later. However, there are circumstances when it benefits a homeowner more to hold onto their mortgage longer.
In this article, we’ll offer some tips on paying off your mortgage, when you should refinance, and offer some tools that will help you along the long road to debt-free homeownership. If you’re a homeowner and find yourself asking these questions, read on.
I can afford to pay more each month on my mortgage, but should I?
In many cases, paying off your home as quickly as possible saves you money in the long run. A shorter loan term means less interest applied to your loan which could save you thousands of dollars in accrued interest.
What many people don’t think about is whether that money could be better spent elsewhere. If your mortgage interest rate isn’t too high, you might be better off allocating that extra income toward investments or retirement funds where they could earn you more in the long run.
This technique is typically most beneficial for younger homeowners. In your 20s and 30s you stand the most to gain from long-term investments, especially tax-benefitted retirement funds. Ultimately you’ll have to do the math, which is tricky because circumstances change; markets vary, our income goes up and down, etc. However, a good starting place is to determine whether you could earn more in retirement and investments than you could by paying off your mortgage sooner and therefore saving on interest.
I’ve owned my home for a few years now, should I refinance?
One way this can be accomplished is by refinancing to a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage which often darry slightly lower interest rates. This option is designed for people who have improved their credit and increased their income since signing their first mortgage.
Math isn’t my strong suit. How can I figure out my finances?
Use this mortgage calculator for determining how much you would save by making extra payments.
This refinance calculator will help you understand the potential benefits of refinancing your mortgage.
To determine how much you could earn through investments (rather than paying more toward your mortgage) use this helpful tool.
You might be able to increase your savings by creating a better budget for yourself. This website will help you make a detailed budget and hold yourself accountable each month.
Step One: SchedulingThe hardest part of planning a family night is finding a time to have it. Each member of the family likely has sports, extracurricular activities, or other obligations that keep them tied up. Find one night of the week that works for everyone. To make sure nobody forgets, add it to your calendar and send invites to the whole family. You can do this via Facebook, Google Calendar, or just a note on the refrigerator--whatever works for your family's needs. A good practice to make sure everyone remembers is to send out a group text message reminder to the whole family so that no one is left out.
Step Two: Make it fun for everyoneIf your family nights aren't "fun for the whole family" you can be assured that they won't last long. This can be hard in a family where kids are at different ages and have different interests. Games that your two-year-old loves will seem boring to your teenager, and vice versa. One way to make sure everyone enjoys family night is to alternate who gets to pick the activities. Start off with your youngest child and work your way around to yourself, this way everyone gets a chance to have a night that they can especially look forward to.
Step Three: Choosing activitiesThere are endless fun family night activities. Depending on the ages of the members of your family, you might have to stick to things that are more kid-friendly. You're also going to need to pick activities that are season and weather-appropriate. Here are some examples for family night activities that work for various ages and seasons:
- Paint night - gather the colors, brushes, and paper you need, then watch a painting tutorial together
- Game night - the most time-tested family night activity is board games. Roll the dice to decide which games to play.
- Video game night - multiplayer games that include everyone are the best option. But you could also take turns or have tournaments to play against each other.
- Ice cream - in the summer, take the family out for ice cream and a walk.
- Bake night - make enough types of cupcakes, cookies, and brownies to last the whole week.
- Backyard camping - set up your tent, build a fire, make S'mores, identify stars and planets, tell ghost stories, and whatever other fun camping ideas you can think of.