First Person: How I Stay Fired Up About My Early Mortgage Payoff

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It's easy to get burned out on paying off a mortgage, especially when it takes years to put to notice a difference. I stay motivated to pay down my mortgage by playing with numbers and reminding myself of the best payoff of all. I'd love to actually own my home instead of owing the mortgage company. I might be called a "homeowner," but I feel more like a renter or even an indentured servant. We bought our home 8 years ago and still owe $97,000. I'd like to have the home paid off in the next 10 years or less.

Making matching contributions

Every time I save money into my emergency fund, I also make a "matching contribution" to my mortgage company. Some people think that instead of making extra principal payments, it's better to have money put aside in case it becomes a struggle to pay the mortgage on time. When I have an extra $100 to save, I prefer to put $50 toward my mortgage and $50 in savings. According to a recent article by CNBC, the late-payment rate on mortgages fell as people are doing a better job paying their mortgages on time. By having that extra money in my emergency account, I know I will always be able to pay my mortgage each month.

Playing with the numbers

In addition to making random extra payments to my mortgage, I also send in specific amounts based on my long-term payoff goals. I can't always control how much extra money I have every month, but I can look at the numbers when deciding on my financial priorities. I have to weigh the benefits of putting my money toward retirement, saving for needs, spending on wants and being free of mortgage debt in a certain amount of time. I know if I pay $230 extra a month my home will be paid off in 10 years. If I pay $575 extra, my home will be paid off in 7 years. I use Dave Ramsey's online mortgage payoff calculators to help me figure it out.

Looking at where I've been

In addition to thinking about the future, I avoid early mortgage payoff burnout by looking at how far I've come. I bought my home for $183,000. I'm almost to the midway point as far as what I owe. I also know that I could just pay the minimum on my mortgage and my home would be paid off in 14 more years. Considering I bought the home 8 years ago, that means I will have paid off my house in 22 years instead of the standard 30 years. Twenty-two years of paying on a mortgage is still too many years for me, which is why I continue to make extra payments.

One thing I don't do when trying to stay motivated about paying down my mortgage is worry about how much money I could hypothetically be making in stocks or other investments. My mortgage rate is only 2.75 percent. On paper, it sounds easy to get a stock market return that is higher than 2.75 percent, but it's just as easy to lose money in the stock market. I don't care what I could have made. I only care about the certainty of owning my home outright.

More from this contributor:

Refinancing Sabotaged my Financial Goals

Making the Leap From My Money to Our Money

Fear of Stock Market Crash Calls me to Cash

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