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Top Tips To Pay Off Your Mortgage and the Downside of Refinancing

Finance

Taking out a mortgage makes many people feel as though they are committing to making a monthly payment for the rest of their lives. Recent studies have shown that an overwhelming number of people never pay off their mortgages. Many look at refinancing as the best path to paying off their house. While refinancing can get you a lower interest rate, refinancing can be both tricky and problematic. Take a look at why refinancing may not be your best option, and what other strategies you can take to own your home as quickly as possible.


The Downsides of Refinancing

The hassle of applying for a new mortgage

Refinancing means you are applying for a brand new mortgage, and while this can help with interest rates, the process of applying for a new mortgage can be long and arduous. If you've had changes in your income or credit since you applied for your existing mortgage, this will likely slow the process or bring it to a halt altogether. A lower salary or credit score may cause lenders to reject you or approve you at a higher rate than what you're paying. Having an existing mortgage does not guarantee that lenders will approve your new application. Lenders may also request various forms of paperwork, such as tax returns and pay stubs.

Refinancing costs

While the idea behind refinancing is to save you money, don't forget that you will be paying for the refinancing. Like with your existing mortgage, you will be required to pay closing costs when you refinance, which can range between 3 to 6 percent of the loan balance. These are typically needed upfront at the time of closing, and if you're refinancing into an FHA loan, you'll also have to pay a fee for mortgage insurance. Consider whether you would be saving enough with the refinancing to more than offset the costs associated with it.

Appraisal results

When refinancing, you first have to go through the appraisal process, which will use recent sales in the area to determine your home's value. If the appraiser determines that your property is worth less than what you owe, you may be denied a refinancing.

Tips for Paying Off Your Mortgage

Anything extra that you can put towards your mortgage each month will help save you money in the long run and help you pay it off more quickly by cutting down on interest. Just be sure to call your mortgage servicer to ensure that anything you are paying beyond your regular payment is being applied properly towards the loan.

Make extra payments

One option to help you is to make payments beyond your monthly payment. If you can afford to make one full additional payment per quarter, you will be in great shape toward shaving down that mortgage. If once per quarter is too much, try to make one extra payment per year.

Add to your monthly payment

Another option is to divide your monthly fee by 12 and add that amount to your monthly payment, which will then add up to one full extra payment each year. It can even be as simple as rounding your payments up, which will allow you to pay a little extra each month.

Switch up your payment schedule

Contacting your lender to switch to bi-weekly payments instead of monthly payments can also help cut down on cost and time, and you'll barely even notice.

This is because paying bi-weekly means you're making more payments a year, than you would be paying monthly, you can shave up to six years off a 30-year mortgage.

Put extra money to work

If you receive a raise or a bonus, up your payments accordingly, consider putting your tax returns or any “found" money, such as an inheritance or even a winning poker hand, towards your mortgage. If you have investments, such as bonds or CDs, that are maturing, you may think about putting the principle, the earnings, or both towards your mortgage payment, rather than reinvesting. Making a lump-sum payment can make a considerable dent in the interest.

Check your mortgage terms

However, if you do plan on making extra payments towards your mortgage, look into the terms of your loan. Some mortgages have prepayment penalties, which means you could be incurring a fee if you try to make extra payments or increase your monthly payment. Other mortgages may allow prepayments, but only at certain times during the loan. Give your lender a call to help clarify the terms, and to find out if there are any specific actions you must take to ensure that your payments are being put to use correctly.

Your mortgage is most likely the largest loan you will ever take out, and imagining life without a mortgage payment may seem like a far-off dream. Many people who feel this way often turn to refinancing without taking into account the potential disadvantages that come along with it. While refinancing can be a good option for some, it is essential to do your research to find out whether refinancing will truly be worth it for you in the long run. Refinancing is not the only strategy to pay off your mortgage in this lifetime. By giving your mortgage a little extra attention, and making sure that you know the terms of your loan, life without a mortgage payment could be closer than you thought.

4 min read
Health

Tropism, Mindfulness, and Responding to Your Environment

One of the few things I remember from grade school biology is the concept of tropism. In plain language, tropism is the reaction of a living thing, like a plant, towards a stimulus like sunlight or heat. You've likely seen this before but just didn't recognize it for what it was. If you've ever seen the leaves of a potted plant bending towards a windowpane, that's tropism in action. The plant is bending towards the sunlight.

If you've ever seen the leaves of a potted plant bending towards a windowpane, that's tropism in action.

In our everyday lives, we are all inundated with stimuli throughout the day. The driver in front of us that stalls at the yellow light and zooms through the red light, leaving us behind to wait. Or the customer service rep that leaves us on hold for an ungodly amount of time, only for the call to prematurely drop. There are so many examples both common and unique to our individual lives. The trouble begins when we form the habit of responding to everything — particularly negative stimuli. By doing this, our mental peace is disrupted and diverted making us slaves to whatever happens to happen. Much like the plant bending towards sunlight, we oftentimes react and lean into whatever is happening around us. Now take that concept and multiply it by the number of things that can happen in a day, week, or month. What happens to you mentally with so many emotional pivots?

For me, the result is: Restlessness. Anxiety. Sleepness. Mindless Eating. Everything besides peace of mind.

Much like the plant bending towards sunlight, we oftentimes react and lean into whatever is happening around us.

Earlier this year, something pretty trivial happened to me. I'm sure this has happened to you at some point in your life also. I was walking through a door and, as I always do, glanced back and held the door longer and wider than normal for the person coming behind me. My gracious gesture was met with silence — no thank you, no smile, not even a nod. I remember being so annoyed at this travesty of justice. How dare they not acknowledge me and thank me for holding the door? After all, I didn't have to do it. I know I spent the next few hours thinking about it and probably even texted a few friends so that they could join in on my rant and tell me how right I was to be upset. In hindsight, I should not have allowed this pretty petty thing to occupy my mind and heart, but I did. I let it shake my peace.

I've since taken some classes on mindfulness and what I've learned (and I'm still learning) is the art of being aware — being aware of the present and my feelings. Recognizing when I'm triggered towards annoyance or anger gives me the opportunity to take a step back to understand why and assess whether it deserves my attention and energy. We're all human and having emotions is part of the deal but as mindful adults, it's critically important to choose what you're going to care about and let everything else pass along. There are several tools on the market to help with this but the Headspace app has really helped me in my mindfulness journey. The lessons are guided and coupled with some pretty cute animations.

Recognizing when I'm triggered towards annoyance or anger gives me the opportunity to take a step back to understand why and assess whether it deserves my attention and energy.

Over the course of the next week, I'd like to challenge you to pay more attention to your reactions. How aware are you of how you allow your environment to affect you? Are you highly reactive? Do you ruminate for hours or even days on events that are insignificant in your life? If so, practicing a bit of mindfulness may be the way to go.