Being free of debt is a great way of enjoying your retirement years. Most people agree that paying off your mortgage before you retire is something that will give you peace of mind and more financial freedom. However, many people end up retiring before their mortgage is paid off, which might not be necessarily a bad thing. Like everything when it comes to mortgages, what is best for one home owner may not be the best for another. Essentially, paying off your mortgage before your retirement years is advantageous, but there are cases in which not paying it off is the better choice, especially if getting rid of your mortgage involves a large financial sacrifice (Read: Should You Rely on Home Equity When You Retire? Think Again!).
When is it better to Not Pay off Your Mortgage
Not having to worry about a large debt after retiring will most likely make your life much easier. Unfortunately, paying off a mortgage earlier is not always a good idea. With today’s interest rates, you are probably paying less than 5 percent on your mortgage loan, and more than 10 percent on your credit card balances. Mortgages are considered a good debt, which means that you should pay them off last, and worry more about other type of debt.
Unless you have large assets that you can use while retiring, you should think twice before paying off your mortgage. Your retirement accounts have more tax advantages, so you should put your money into those before paying off debt. An even worse idea is to pay off your mortgage using money from your retirement accounts. You will have to pay a large penalty for the withdrawal, and end up spending more than you would on your mortgage.
Also, if you are able to refinance your mortgage loan, you could be saving thousands of dollars. However, refinancing is expensive and you have to include closing costs in your calculations before deciding if refinancing will save you money, or you should keep paying the mortgage as before (Read: Do You Make These Mistakes? Don’t Kill Your Mortgage Refinance!).
Reasons to Pay Off Your Mortgage before Retiring
There are more reasons to pay off your mortgage before retiring than there are to not pay it off. To find out even more reasons click here. Taking the necessary steps to make sure that your retirement accounts are replenished is very important before deciding whether paying off your mortgage is worth it or not. Here are the reasons why getting rid of your mortgage should come before retiring.
- Peace of mind. After years of making large payments each month, you can finally say that you truly own your home. This is especially important after retiring, when your income probably won’t be as large as before, and the chances of generating additional income are thin. Finding a job, investing or starting a business in your retirement years is unlikely, so not having to worry about the risk of losing your home if something unforeseen happens, or about having to make a large payment each month, is a blessing. To learn more about the benefits see this.
- Savings in interest. Over the life of a mortgage loan, you will be paying tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest, so paying it off as soon as possible means that you avoid paying all that interest. Even refinancing into a shorter loan will bring great savings, as long as you don’t spend a lot on the closing costs. Not only will you be mortgage free by the time you reach your retirement years, but you can also use the money that you saved for something that will make your retirement much more enjoyable.
- It allows you to focus on spending less. The process of paying off your mortgage allows you to focus on saving for retirement, as well. If you wouldn’t have a monthly mortgage payment, you might be tempted to use that money to make other large purchases, like an expensive car. Deciding to pay off your mortgage puts things into perspective and gives you a chance to focus on your future plans.
- Build equity. Paying off your mortgage means that, if you ever need money once you are retired, you can take out a loan against the equity in your home or sell the home and have access to all the equity in it. You can use the money to pay your medical bills, buy a condo, or even for traveling (Read: Home Equity Loan).
- Avoid higher interest rates if your rate is adjustable. Adjustable-rate mortgages can be either advantageous or disadvantageous, depending on how the interest rate fluctuates. If the interest rate keeps rising, then you might end up with a larger down payment during your retirement years, so paying your mortgage off makes sense.
Not paying off your mortgage before retiring makes sense in some cases, but not having to pay a large bill each month is more beneficial. Unless you have to dip into your savings and retirement accounts to pay off your mortgage, the peace of mind that not having a mortgage brings outweighs the pros of keeping your mortgage during your retirement years.