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Why Pay off the mortgage?
Old 09-12-2006, 01:02 AM   #1
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Why Pay off the mortgage?

I am working on a nestegg and doing a lot of reading. Why should I pay off my 6.25% mortgage with part of my nest egg when I retire, when I can get the tax deduction and only make the payment as usual? Seems that my portfolio well balanced should yield 7-9%?

Thanks in advance!

- Shabber
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Re: Why Pay off the mortgage?
Old 09-12-2006, 01:35 AM   #2
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Re: Why Pay off the mortgage?

It doesn't make sense to compare to your expected portfolio return because they don't have the same risk/volatility.

I was in a similar situation and decided to pay it off. Here's how I viewed the problem. Someone is lending you money risk free at 6.25%. If you are holding bonds as a part of your asset allocation you are lending money at the rate that the bonds are paying. If it's less than 6.25% you are losing money. The tax issue is a wash because you pay tax on the bond dividends. Would you buy a risk free taxable bond with the same terms as your mortgage? If so pay down accordingly.
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Re: Why Pay off the mortgage?
Old 09-12-2006, 05:28 AM   #3
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Re: Why Pay off the mortgage?

Most "retirement financial planners" look at a home not as an investment, but as a "place to live".* Yes, you can buy/sell it and treat it as an equity investment, but for retirement purposes, it's not part of the "retirement base" unless you have defined plans to sell it (or downsize) and use it to fund your retirement.* Statistics show that most people consider this option but relatively few execute the plan.

That being the case (and also that it requires $$$ for upkeep, taxes, etc.) I look at it only from an "estate value".* Is it part of my net worth?* Of course.* Is it part of my retirement plan? No...

Additionally,* it's more of the case of looking at mortgage debt I'd rather be without (and that's why my DW /I paid off our current 30yr mortgage in 5.5 years).

Finally, it's a "good feeling" kind of thing, to know that you don't have that debt to reduce your "perceived net worth".

Only other thing I can say (for myself) is that I also don't use it as an ATM.* The value of our home (going up or down) doesn’t matter, and is an important part of today’s news.* It's where I (and my family) live.* Sometimes you just can't put a price on a "physiological possession"...

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Re: Why Pay off the mortgage?
Old 09-12-2006, 07:16 AM   #4
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Re: Why Pay off the mortgage?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shabber
Why should I pay off my 6.25% mortgage with part of my nest egg when I retire...?
Shabber, that question has been the subject of ugly fist fights much discussion on this board. Use the search function to look for threads on "pay off mortgage" and you will find heated and impassioned name calling discourse on the subject. Here is one example:

http://early-retirement.org/forums/i...hp?topic=420.0

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Re: Why Pay off the mortgage?
Old 09-12-2006, 07:27 AM   #5
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Re: Why Pay off the mortgage?

With a low interest rate there is usually little reason to pay off a mortgage early, because you can get your money working elsewhere.

However, if your social security benefits are being taxed because you earn too much money and you need to earn that money to pay the mortgage, then it makes sense to pay off the mortgage. *

For example, suppose your mortgage is $2,000 a month. *You could reduce your annual expenses by $24,000 and thus reduce your required annual income by $24,000. *If you earned $24,000 less than you do now, how would that affect your income taxes? *

Would you be in a lower tax bracket so that conversion of some money in non-Roth IRAs to a Roth IRA would be beneficial?

Would your social security benefits now become tax-free? *Would you qualify for other benefits because you are low income?

You have to run the numbers.

I don't buy into this good feeling thing. * I get good feelings from money in the bank that I can use to pay off my mortgage anytime I want if the numbers make sense. * I get an even bigger good feeling knowing that the interest my money earns is even more than the interest I pay on my mortgage. *That extra interest can be used to help pay the property taxes and the homeowners insurance.

But I realize there are irrational folks out there who feel otherwise.
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Re: Why Pay off the mortgage?
Old 09-12-2006, 07:32 AM   #6
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Re: Why Pay off the mortgage?

Quote:
Originally Posted by LOL!
But I realize there are irrational folks out there who feel otherwise.
...and rational ones as well.

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Re: Why Pay off the mortgage?
Old 09-12-2006, 08:20 AM   #7
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Re: Why Pay off the mortgage?

It's interesting to read the posts in that previous thread from 2004 (thanks for the link REWahoo!).

Not surprisingly, in the meantime, interest rates have changed and the folks who wrote about "where else can you get a guaranteed 5% return?" now know where you can that guaranteed return.

Ain't hindsight grand?
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Re: Why Pay off the mortgage?
Old 09-12-2006, 08:38 AM   #8
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Re: Why Pay off the mortgage?

Great points have been raised so far--and here's one more (OK, it's not so great, but another perspective anyhow):

If you were to sell your house and move to a new house, would you pay cash or take out a mortgage (assuming the same interest rate you have now)? If not, I'd put a little more weight on the pay-off side.

Since DH and I will have only a tiny pension and considerably less than the max for two people in Social Security payments--and therefore subject more than many of you to the vicissitudes of the market--and we may have higher medical costs than most fo you as well, I prefer to keep my other required expenses as small possible; hence, no mortgage for us.
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Re: Why Pay off the mortgage?
Old 09-12-2006, 08:48 AM   #9
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Re: Why Pay off the mortgage?

One of the great things about NOT having a mortgage is that it puts you in better control of your cash flow.

If you hit a rough month or two or three for whatever reason, the mortgage is till due. Banks do not sell empathy. If you are investing what you would have paid toward your mortgage in your fund of choice you can simply skip your voluntary investments for a month or two or three.

Peace of mind for me. HELOC as a final safety net.
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Re: Why Pay off the mortgage?
Old 09-12-2006, 09:25 AM   #10
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Re: Why Pay off the mortgage?

One of the great things about having a mortgage*and the money to pay it off invested is that it puts you in better control of your cash flow.

If you hit a rough month or two or three for whatever reason, the mortgage is still due. Banks do not sell empathy. If you have investments you can simply sell a portion of*your investments for a month or two or three.

Peace of mind for me.* Cash as a final safety net.
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Re: Why Pay off the mortgage?
Old 09-12-2006, 10:13 AM   #11
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Re: Why Pay off the mortgage?

One of the great things about not having a mortgage and having sufficient funds invested is that it puts you in better control of your cash flow.

If you hit a rough month or two or three for whatever reason, the mortgage is still due. Banks do not sell empathy. If you have paid off the house and invested in your fund of choice your expenses are so low there is minimal impact.

Peace of mind for me. Heloc and cash as a final safety net.
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Re: Why Pay off the mortgage?
Old 09-12-2006, 10:54 AM   #12
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Re: Why Pay off the mortgage?

Just think how much money you will save by not paying the intrest on your mortgage. That money can be put to work making you more money.

I have always liked this article by Suze regarding the "Tax Writeoff"

http://biz.yahoo.com/pfg/e01tax/art021.html
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Re: Why Pay off the mortgage?
Old 09-12-2006, 11:20 AM   #13
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Re: Why Pay off the mortgage?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MonarchDon
Just think how much money you will save by not paying the intrest on your mortgage. That money can be put to work making you more money.

I have always liked this article by Suze regarding the "Tax Writeoff"

http://biz.yahoo.com/pfg/e01tax/art021.html


So if I have a "mortgage" that is costing me 2% after tax insterest, I would be a lot better off by pre-paying? I think you (and Suze ) need to go back to the calculator...
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Re: Why Pay off the mortgage?
Old 09-12-2006, 11:27 AM   #14
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Re: Why Pay off the mortgage?

Well there really is no correct answer here.

You can take that money (the dead equity money), invest it, and probably come out way ahead instead of paying off a mortgage.

However what is not mentioned is that paying off the mortgage is the much much lower risk approach.

For me I plow lots of money into investments and the market. But I also take a little to pay off my mortgage.

You can do a little of both.
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Re: Why Pay off the mortgage?
Old 09-12-2006, 11:41 AM   #15
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Re: Why Pay off the mortgage?

I go back and forth constantly over whether to pay off the mortgage or not. Currently we have a 4.75% mtg while our CDs are earning 5.35%. At this time it doesn't seem to make sense to me to pay off the loan. A few yrs down the road I may change my mind though. I'll leave my options open.
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Re: Why Pay off the mortgage?
Old 09-12-2006, 03:11 PM   #16
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Re: Why Pay off the mortgage?

I have carried two mortgages for a long time so I understand that there are many reasons to carry a mortgage. But there are as many reasons and circumstances to pay one off. Here is a potential situation:

$1,050,000 nest egg
$40K expenses includes taxes, insurance, and everything except the mortgage P&I.
$50K remaining on the mortgage with a $1200 monthy payment with a few years to go. E.g. an extra $14,400 in expenses until the mortgage is paid off.

Is it better/safer to pay off the mortgage and start out with a 4% SWR, or start out with a 5.1% withdrawal rate for the few years of $54,400 expenses it takes to finish off the mortgage? I'm sure we could debate this one both ways but I would feel more comfortable starting out with the paid mortgage and a 4% SWR. From a financial perspective is that rational or irrational?
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Re: Why Pay off the mortgage?
Old 09-12-2006, 03:58 PM   #17
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Re: Why Pay off the mortgage?

Quote:
Originally Posted by donheff
Is it better/safer to pay off the mortgage and start out with a 4% SWR, or start out with a 5.1% withdrawal rate for the few years of $54,400 expenses it takes to finish off the mortgage?* I'm sure we could debate this one both ways but I would feel more comfortable starting out with the paid mortgage and a 4% SWR.* From a financial perspective is that rational or irrational?
Run the two different scenarios through FIRECalc and see if the success rates are markedly different. One starts with a higher withdrawal but a larger portfolio and may be more survivable, the other starts with a lower portfolio and a smaller withdrawal and may also be more survivable. The two factors can offset each other.

If the success rates are over 80% then I'd do whichever one makes you sleep better at night.

"Feeling more comfortable" would be considered irrational from a financial perspective. However sleeping at night is just as valid a reason to pay off the mortgage. They're two different value systems with two different sets of rules... and you get to choose.
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Re: Why Pay off the mortgage?
Old 09-12-2006, 04:12 PM   #18
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Re: Why Pay off the mortgage?

Pretty much a no-brainer for us to keep the morgage a 4.875% fixed (15 year). Heck CD's are paying more. If that changes I'ld be open to paying it off.
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Re: Why Pay off the mortgage?
Old 09-12-2006, 06:21 PM   #19
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Re: Why Pay off the mortgage?

Or you could see what the rate would be if your refinanced and took some of that cash out and invested it and got a 30 yr mortgage.

I am suprised its not approached here on the basis of having a balanced portfolio. You mention the million but wouldnt the more important part be if allocated well ?
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Re: Why Pay off the mortgage?
Old 09-12-2006, 07:04 PM   #20
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Re: Why Pay off the mortgage?

Quote:
Originally Posted by spideyrdpd
Or you could see what the rate would be if your refinanced and took some of that cash out and invested it and got a 30 yr mortgage.

I am suprised its not approached here on the basis of having a balanced portfolio. You mention the million but wouldnt the more important part be if allocated well ?
I guess the 30 year mortgage would be an even better comparison. Same scenario, but you refinance to get a couple of hundred thousand cash out. Now your mortgage is about the same but you have thirty years to go. The extra 200 thousand placed in a well diversified portfolio would safely pay for about $8,000/yr in mortgage, but you would have to spend something like $13K to pay off a 6% 200K mortgage. Now you have a SWR rate well above 4% for thirty years.

Whatever, we do tend to beat this topic up. It seems to me that the mortgage is a good deal if you have extra money but if you are trying to stretch to live within a 4% or less SWR you are better off dumping it.

The well diversified portfolio is assumed.
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