When I was young, (3 or 4 recessions ago) I used to imagine myself retiring. Now that I am older and closer to what used to be “retirement age” I realize that retiring probably isn’t ideal. I can see myself working less but I can’t envision the kind of retirement my parents and grandparents enjoyed.
No matter how it all works out there are some advantages in having the mortgage paid off. Yes, you can pay off your mortgage. It is best to pay off credit card debt and put a little money away first. We always need to be planning for that next recession because there is always a next recession.
According to Zillow, 37% of Americans own their homes free and clear. (January 2020) The number went up by 5.5% after the great recession. In 2017 41% of baby boomers owned their homes free and clear. For seventy-year-olds, an estimated 68% are mortgage-free.
I can see a lot of advantages in not having a mortgage in retirement. The biggest advantage is not having to make mortgage payments which can lower monthly expenses. Homeowners still have to pay property taxes and insurance and all of the other expenses that come with homeownership.
The easiest way to pay off a mortgage early is to pay a little extra against the principle every month. In the beginning, those small payments have the greatest impact because mortgage interest is front-loaded. That means those first payments are more interest than principle.
You may think that you are missing out on a big tax deduction by having a mortgage. Please consult your tax advisor.
There are some psychological benefits of not having to make house payments. It can be liberating. Having less debt means more flexibility and fewer worries.