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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.

3 Min Read
Health

7 Must-have Tips to Keep You Healthy and Fit for the Unpredictable COVID Future

With a lack of certainty surrounding the future, being and feeling healthy may help bring the security that you need during these unpredictable times.

When it comes to your health, there is a direct relationship between nutrition and physical activity that play an enormous part in physical, mental, and social well-being. As COVID-19 continues to impact almost every aspect of our lives, the uncertainty of the future may seem looming. Sometimes improvisation is necessary, and understanding how to stay healthy and fit can significantly help you manage your well-being during these times.

Tip 1: Communicate with your current wellness providers and set a plan

Gyms, group fitness studios, trainers, and professionals can help you to lay out a plan that will either keep you on track through all of the changes and restrictions or help you to get back on the ball so that all of your health objectives are met.

Most facilities and providers are setting plans to provide for their clients and customers to accommodate the unpredictable future. The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C. An enormous amount is on the table for this coming fall and winter; if your gym closes again, what is your plan? If outdoor exercising is not an option due to the weather, what is your plan? Leaving things to chance will significantly increase your chances of falling off of your regimen and will make consistency a big problem.

The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C.

Tip 2: Stay active for both mental and physical health benefits

The rise of stress and anxiety as a result of the uncertainty around COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way. Staying active by exercising helps alleviate stress by releasing chemicals like serotonin and endorphins in your brain. In turn, these released chemicals can help improve your mood and even reduce risk of depression and cognitive decline. Additionally, physical activity can help boost your immune system and provide long term health benefits.

With the new work-from-home norm, it can be easy to bypass how much time you are spending sedentary. Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity. Struggling to find ways to stay active? Start simple with activities like going for a walk outside, doing a few reps in exchange for extra Netflix time, or even setting an alarm to move during your workday.

Tip 3: Start slow and strong

If you, like many others during the pandemic shift, have taken some time off of your normal fitness routine, don't push yourself to dive in head first, as this may lead to burnout, injury, and soreness. Plan to start at 50 percent of the volume and intensity of prior workouts when you return to the gym. Inactivity eats away at muscle mass, so rather than focusing on cardio, head to the weights or resistance bands and work on rebuilding your strength.

Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity.

Tip 4: If your gym is open, prepare to sanitize

In a study published earlier this year, researchers found drug-resistant bacteria, the flu virus, and other pathogens on about 25 percent of the surfaces they tested in multiple athletic training facilities. Even with heightened gym cleaning procedures in place for many facilities, if you are returning to the gym, ensuring that you disinfect any surfaces before and after using them is key.

When spraying disinfectant, wait a few minutes to kill the germs before wiping down the equipment. Also, don't forget to wash your hands frequently. In an enclosed space where many people are breathing heavier than usual, this can allow for a possible increase in virus droplets, so make sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Staying in the know and preparing for new gym policies will make it easy to return to these types of facilities as protocols and mutual respect can be agreed upon.

Tip 5: Have a good routine that extends outside of just your fitness

From work to working out, many routines have faltered during the COVID pandemic. If getting back into the routine seems daunting, investing in a new exercise machine, trainer, or small gadget can help to motivate you. Whether it's a larger investment such as a Peloton, a smaller device such as a Fitbit, or simply a great trainer, something new and fresh is always a great stimulus and motivator.

Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine.

Just because you are working from home with a computer available 24/7 doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your entire day to work. Setting work hours, just as you would in the office, can help you to stay focused and productive.

A good night's sleep is also integral to obtaining and maintaining a healthy and effective routine. Adults need seven or more hours of sleep per night for their best health and wellbeing, so prioritizing your sleep schedule can drastically improve your day and is an important factor to staying healthy. Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine. This can help the rest of your day feel normal while the uncertainty of working from home continues.

Tip 6: Focus on food and nutrition

In addition to having a well-rounded daily routine, eating at scheduled times throughout the day can help decrease poor food choices and unhealthy cravings. Understanding the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy can help you stay more alert, but they do vary from person to person. If you are unsure of your suggested nutritional intake, check out a nutrition calculator.

If you are someone that prefers smaller meals and more snacks throughout the day, make sure you have plenty of healthy options, like fruits, vegetables and lean proteins available (an apple a day keeps the hospital away). While you may spend most of your time from home, meal prepping and planning can make your day flow easier without having to take a break to make an entire meal in the middle of your work day. Most importantly, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

Tip 7: Don't forget about your mental health

While focusing on daily habits and routines to improve your physical health is important, it is also a great time to turn inward and check in with yourself. Perhaps your anxiety has increased and it's impacting your work or day-to-day life. Determining the cause and taking proactive steps toward mitigating these occurrences are important.

For example, with the increase in handwashing, this can also be a great time to practice mini meditation sessions by focusing on taking deep breaths. This can reduce anxiety and even lower your blood pressure. Keeping a journal and writing out your daily thoughts or worries can also help manage stress during unpredictable times, too.

While the future of COVI9-19 and our lives may be unpredictable, you can manage your personal uncertainties by focusing on improving the lifestyle factors you can control—from staying active to having a routine and focusing on your mental health—to make sure that you emerge from this pandemic as your same old self or maybe even better.