Paying off your mortgage can feel like endlessly feeding dollars into a vending machine and not getting to enjoy that candy bar until your appetite has disappeared. But eventually, your mortgage will be paid off and the return on the investment will be a sweet reward.
That said, you can work to shorten the total time until your mortgage is paid off and enjoy that reward sooner — one extra payment a year can shave off years of interest payments.
The key to making one extra payment this year? Establish your motivation and your method.
Motivation: Understand the long-term impact of one extra payment
Before you decide how you’ll make an extra payment this year, use a mortgage calculator to understand why making an extra payment can benefit your savings.
Say you begin paying back a $150,000 mortgage with a 4% interest rate. Following a standard 30-year payment schedule, you can expect to pay off your mortgage by February 2045. But if you were to match and contribute one additional $712 payment each year, you could expect to pay off your mortgage in February 2041. That shaves a full four years off the total repayment time! Not a bad deal.
Method: Pinpoint ways to save
1. Review your current budget
Take a look at your monthly credit statements, savings, debt, and overall spending to get a better understanding of your financial layout. Knowing your current financials gives you knowledge of your spending and saving habits, which in turn gives you insight into how you can tweak those habits to contribute more to your mortgage.
2. Set a reasonable goal
Big ambitions get overwhelming pretty quickly. To keep on track with your saving plan, start by setting a goal you know you can achieve. For instance, if you know you can save $10 a month, start there. Put that extra $10 into your mortgage payment for one month. Once you’ve reached that goal, bump it up to $20.
Increase incrementally until you’ve reached your sweet spot. It’s more effective to start small and calibrate than it is to start too big and give up shortly thereafter.
3. Automate extra savings
There will always be a reason to divert extra savings to another area. To help you avoid the temptation of funneling funds elsewhere, automate extra savings into your mortgage payment. You can use your bank to automatically portion a sum from your paycheck directly into a saving plan.
Follow-up: Check in regularly with your finances
Even after you’ve pumped up your payment, it’s still important to continue evaluating your success. Set a regular “money date” to check in with your numbers. Schedule a weekly lunch devoted to your finances — anything that can keep you in touch with your long-term financial goals.