First Person: Getting Right Side Up on Our Mortgage

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Like 28 percent of all homeowners, we were underwater on our mortgage earlier this year. A lot of people are tempted to walk away from their upside down mortgages.

I can totally relate.

Instead of giving up, we came up with a plan to pay down our mortgage and cope with the demoralizing real estate values in our area.

Stop making comparisons

The first thing we did to get right side up on our mortgage was to get the sunny side up attitude in our heads. I stopped comparing the value of our home to other ones on Zillow.com. I stopped checking the value on Trulia.com. Instead, I focused on how much we owed the mortgage company and how we could pay them extra.

Use online banking

I checked with my mortgage company to make sure any additional payments we made online would go toward the principle that we owe on our mortgage. We found the convenience of using online banking to pay our mortgage down motivated us to make more frequent payments.

Make ambitious goals

My first goal was to pay off our mortgage in 20 years. Later, I decided to pay extra so we could have it paid off in 15 years. We continue to challenge ourselves so that we can be mortgage free as soon as possible. It's important to us because we may have to live on one income.

Refinance to a lower rate

We were fortunate enough to be able to do a free refinance at a lower interest rate. A relative of mine was able to refinance her home for just $300 in closing costs because she has an account at a small regional bank.

Throw bonus money at the mortgage

The way we paid down our mortgage was by chipping away at it every week. I would put my mileage reimbursement checks toward the mortgage. My husband would put a portion of his bonus money toward the mortgage.

It goes without saying there are a lot of advantages to getting right side up on your mortgage. By making current payments, you keep a good credit score. By staying in the same home for the long term we save money on moving expenses.

We love the freedom of owning our own home and not having to report to a landlord.

The home we live in is the same home we fell in love with eight years ago when we signed the contract to have it built. I guess you could say we made a commitment to this house and keeping it just feels right.

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