1. Refinance into a 15-year mortgage Cutting your loan term in half is a big financial step, but the benefits are substantial. Not only will you shorten the payoff time, but you’ll also be rewarded with a lower rate and pay significantly less in interest over the life of the loan. The key here is determining whether you can shoulder a larger monthly cost that comes with a 15-year mortgage. Rates also change during the lifetime of a mortgage and if rates are lower than when you purchased, moving to a 15 year may not be a big jump payment wise.
2. Refinance into a lower rate but keep payments the same The benefits of refinancing your loan but sticking to the same payments are twofold: You will pay less in interest over the life of the loan and create a shorter path to mortgage freedom. It also isn't as drastic as #1 in case your payment would be higher moving to a 15 year. By moving to a lower interest rate, you secure some financial freedom in case you run into a hardship, but you pay off the loan faster if you keep paying at the higher rate.
3. Put that unexpected "extra" money to work! Maybe your monthly budget doesn’t have wiggle room and paying the costs to refinance isn’t in the cards. There’s another option. Tax returns, bonus checks, and inheritance payments present the opportunity to pay off a chunk of your mortgage without feeling the pain in your monthly budget. This could mean thousands of additional dollars chipping away at this massive financial responsibility each year. If you don't have other expenses you need to use this money for (i.e. paying off credit cards, etc) this is an excellent way to pay down the mortgage without feeling the burn!
4. Make extra or higher principal payments Additional small principal payments add up over time!. Thousands of dollars in interest can be shaved by making just a couple of extra payments a year. Another thought is to make payments based on the amortization schedule of a 15-year mortgage while still have the flexibility of keeping your current 30-year mortgage in case of times when you need the extra funds. That way you get the principal balance reduction!
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