6 ways to retire without a mortgage

Paying off a home loan by the time you stop working can mean greater financial security. Whether you start early or later in life, there’s more than one approach to consider.

Admit it: Whether you’re 35 or 65, the prospect of retiring without a mortgage is an attractive one. No more monthly checks to your lender means extra money to spend on having fun once you exit the workforce. After years of punctual principal-and-interest payments, it’s the least you deserve, right?

There are several smart ways to retire without a mortgage. We’ve come up with six that fit a variety of retirement scenarios. Some approaches benefit from an early start — so if you are able, try to plan ahead. Other mortgage-free-retirement options can be put into effect even if you’re close to collecting Social Security.

Some retirees don’t mind a mortgage, be it for the tax write-off or to keep too much money from being tied up in home equity. But if your goal is the peace of mind that comes with paying off your loan before you reach retirement, check out these six ways to retire without a mortgage.

1. Make extra mortgage payments
Over time, a few bucks here and there tacked on to your mortgage payment can translate into thousands of dollars saved on interest and years shaved off the repayment period. The trick is to find small ways to cut corners on other household expenses so you can apply those modest savings toward your mortgage. Simply swapping out traditional incandescent light bulbs for compact fluorescent lights, for example, can save you $50 a year in energy costs. A programmable thermostat can save you up to $180 annually.

A little extra goes a long way. A $200,000 mortgage at 6% over 30 years works out to a monthly payment of about $1,200 (excluding taxes and insurance). You’ll pay just over $231,000 in interest alone. But put an extra $100 a month toward the same mortgage and you’ll save nearly $50,000 in interest and retire the loan five and a half years early.

2. Refinance your mortgage
A surefire way to trim the bill for your home loan is to refinance your mortgage to a lower rate for an equal or greater period of time. You’ll enjoy reduced payments and less strain on your bank account. Not a bad idea if money is tight. What you won’t enjoy is a mortgage-free retirement.

To pay off your mortgage early via refinancing, you’ll need to switch to a shorter-term loan. In 2011, a popular refi option for homeowners who weren’t underwater was going from a 30-year mortgage to a 15-year loan.

Let’s say you have 25 years left on a 30-year mortgage at 6% and still owe $175,000. You’d pay about $163,000 in interest over the remaining quarter-century. For just $167 more per month, plus one-time closing costs, you could refinance to a 15-year mortgage at 4% and save $105,000 in interest. And, of course, you’d be mortgage-free a decade earlier. (Does refinancing make sense for you? Check with MSN Money’s calculator.)

3. Downsize your home
Think about it: At a time when you’re supposed to be enjoying the simple life, do you really need a formal living room, separate dining room and two spare bedrooms that you never set foot in? If your answer is no, think about downsizing your home.

The beauty of downsizing to a smaller home in the same area is that you don’t need to say goodbye to your friends, family and community. Of course, beauty can also be found in the fact that you might be able to pay cash for your new abode. That means no mortgage.

And don’t limit your notion of downsizing. Just because you spent the past 30 years in a traditional ranch doesn’t mean you need to purchase another ranch with less square footage. Check out conventional alternatives (condos, townhouses) as well as unconventional options (houseboats, RVs and even tiny homes).

4. Relocate to a cheaper city
Can’t find the right place at the right price to retire in your hometown? Move somewhere cheaper. Sure, there will be sacrifices, but what you’ll give up in familiarity you’ll make up for financially. The best places to retire combine ample activities with affordable real estate. And moving to an affordable locale will boost the odds that you won’t have to take out a new mortgage.

Home prices aren’t the only factor. Consider property taxes and homeowners insurance premiums as well. Both affect the overall affordability of a home. In New Jersey, for example, property taxes and insurance premiums combined average $7,270. You’d pay just $1,444 in, say, Kentucky, one of the 10 most tax-friendly states for retirees. Some state and local governments reduce or even waive property taxes for residents 65 and older.

Feeling adventurous? You might be able to pay even less for a home and enjoy lower living expenses if you retire overseas. Look into bargain-priced and retiree-welcoming countries such as Belize, Mexico, Panama and Vietnam.

mortgage broker denver

Vince Reece
Senior Loan Officer
Office: 303-840-0966
Cell: 303-818-0699
vince@coloradomortgageguy.com
19519 E Parker Square Dr
Parker, CO 80134
www.coloradomortgageguy.com

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