No one wants to spend longer making mortgage payments than they have to. The obvious way to pay off a mortgage faster is to get a shorter-term loan, like a 15-year instead of a 30-year. But on a $300,000 home purchase with 10 percent down, you’ll pay about $620 more per month on a 15-year loan than on a 30-year loan (including mortgage insurance), which might be too expensive for you.
So how do you fix your budget with a loan you can afford, yet still pay it off early if you have extra money? Here’s a look at four common approaches.
Refinance, then reinvest savings
It’s always prudent to evaluate refinancing when rates drop, but unless you refinance from a 30-year loan to a 15-year loan, refinancing doesn’t automatically shave years off your mortgage.
If you bought a home for $300,000 with 10 percent down five years ago, the rate on your 30-year fixed loan of $270,000 was about 4.875 percent, giving you a payment of $1,429 (plus mortgage insurance). With today’s refinance rates of about 3.625 percent on your remaining $247,494 balance, your new payment would be $1,129, saving you $300 per month.
It’s a huge savings, but you’re resetting your payoff clock from 25 years back to 30 years. However, if you take the extra step of applying the $300 savings toward your new loan each month, you’ll shave 9.5 years off your new mortgage, giving you a shorter term for the same budget.
Make biweekly payments
A biweekly payment plan is the simplest way to shorten your mortgage without a material budget increase. This plan shaves about four years off your mortgage by paying half your payment every other week.
Doing so means you’re making 26 biweekly payments per year, which is the equivalent of 13 monthly mortgage payments per year instead of 12. Your budget can usually absorb this because you’re simply chopping your mortgage payment in half and paying each half every other week.