How to free yourself from your biggest debt faster than you would think possible

How would you like to pay off your home and run the mortgage contract through the shredder a lot sooner than the 30 years many homeowners take?

There are many ways to pay off your home loan faster. You can choose to do it a little faster or a lot. With some tactics — like the following ones — you’ll scarcely notice the increase in your monthly payments.

1. Make biweekly mortgage payments

Since there are 12 months in a year, homeowners make 12 monthly mortgage payments per year. But if you make half-sized payments every two weeks (biweekly), you’ll make 26 half-payments per year — the equivalent of 13 full payments.

Essentially, it is like making 13 monthly payments every year rather than the usual 12.

To go this route, call your lender and ask the best way to do it. Some lenders will set you up with biweekly payments. Or you might simply prefer to send in the extra payments by mail or electronically.

Whenever you make any extra payment, however, be sure to designate it “apply to principal.” Otherwise, the lender may treat it as a prepayment of your next regular monthly payment.

Use an online biweekly payment calculator like that of KS StateBank to view the savings.

For example, according to that calculator, if you have a $200,000 mortgage with a fixed interest rate of 4.5 percent, making biweekly payments would save $28,037 in interest over the life of the loan and pay off your mortgage in 25.6 years instead of 30. That’s a big bang for not many extra bucks.

Caution: Avoid paying for “mortgage acceleration” programs. Paying down your mortgage faster should not cost extra.

2. Pour every bit of extra cash into your mortgage

Dedicate every windfall you receive — such as bonuses and gifts — toward your mortgage principal.

It’s possible you’ll find better uses for extra cash than paying down your mortgage, though. For example, if your after-tax mortgage interest rate is 4 percent, but you can earn 5 percent on your money elsewhere, you’re probably better off earning the 5 percent.

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