My wife and I have owned our home for less than 3 months, and I am already tempted to start paying extra money towards our mortgage. Not only that, but we have paid exactly TWO payments. That’s 2 out of 360 total payments, or 1/180th. About half of a percentile. Yet, we are already tempted to start paying down our mortgage.
I say tempted, because I know it makes much more sense to leverage our money and utilize higher interest investment vehicles (stock market, real estate investing, etc.) than earn a guaranteed 3.875% by paying off our mortgage early.
I know this is the smarter move, but it doesn’t mean I’m not tempted.
Am I crazy? Maybe… but I’m not alone in my desire to pay of our mortgage early.
Why Early Mortgage Payoff is So Appealing
If you own your own home, you too may have been overcome with the same thoughts as we have. I didn’t know that I would be struck with these emotions, until we were actually living in our own home, paying the new bills. Here’s a few of the reasons why I’m tempted to throw extra money towards my mortgage.
People Teach You Debt is Bad
Ever since I was in high school, my parents taught me well to avoid debt like the plague. I accomplished this with credit cards by paying them off each month, paying for college and grad school in cash, and even buying our first and only car in cash.
When you come from this mentality, and then suddenly have over a quarter of a million dollars in debt overnight, it makes sense that you have urges to get rid of it as early as possible. The thought of being in debt for 30 years is a scary thought in this context.
Early Retirement Seems More Tangible with 1/2 the Monthly Expenses
Right now, my wife and I probably spend about $2,000 in other expenses on top of our mortgage payment. We both work and are able to save some money each and every month after paying all of our bills. This is great to build up our emergency fund after using most of our liquid assets toward our down payment.
While we both enjoy our jobs, life is really busy with two full time jobs and keeping up with everything else. However, The thought of being able to cut our expenses in half anywhere from 5-10 years ahead of schedule sounds pretty nice to me. And who knows how I will feel about working at 55? While I know the math works in my favor over a long period of time to invest in the stock market, I also know that cutting my expenses in half would make early retirement (for one of us at least) more feasible.
There’s Something about OWNING Your Home Outright
Last, but not least, there seems to be a hidden script that teaches you that while home ownership is nice, it’s one step below owning your home outright. In other words, it’s great that my wife and I own our home as opposed to renting: we’re building up equity, investing in a hopefully-good investment, etc. But, the reality is this: if we stop making payments, we will no longer own our home. The bank will.
Home ownership is great, but we are in a 30 year contract, and something tells me that I would have a huge sense of accomplishment knowing our home is paid off.
Don’t Making a Decision Blind-Folded
While I do see the benefit of getting rid of debt as quickly as possible, the math doesn’t lie. Of course, personal finance is more than just following a set of numbers. Human psychology also plays a large part in it too. That’s why people have to figure out what’s most important for them when it comes to managing their money.
While it’s okay to pay down your mortgage early, it doesn’t mean it’s the best option for us. In fact, the truth is that, over the long-term, investing in stock market and even other high ROI options will have a greater impact on my finances than paying off our mortgage early.
For example, while my wife and I could easily pay an extra payment each year toward our mortgage and end our mortgage about 5 years early, we could also invest that money in the stock market and earn even more money over the next 25 years. Enough money to pay off the loan 5 years early and have money left over. Approximately $35,000 extra (assuming 7% return in the stock market).
Beyond the larger returns, there are other benefits to not paying off your mortgage including liquidity – but my point isn’t to argue one way or another. My point is simply to highlight that it appears to be common to want to pay off the mortgage early. While neither option (paying off the mortgage early or investing the extra money elsewhere) are bad decisions, you should make sure you know WHY you are doing what you are doing.