One of the biggest advantages of home ownership is the equity you build in your property. The faster you pay off your mortgage and build this equity, the better financial shape you’ll be in. Equity can be a powerful tool to manage your finances.
Paying Off Your Mortgage
During the first few years you make payments on your mortgage, most of your payment goes toward interest and not very much goes toward paying down the principal. The more you owe on the mortgage, the more interest you’ll pay. So if you increase the amount you pay, more of the principal will be paid and less interest will be charged. You could retire your mortgage several years ahead of schedule if you just make one extra mortgage payment per year.
If interest rates have dropped since you took out your mortgage, you may want to consider refinancing your home – that is, getting a new mortgage with a better interest rate to replace the old one. As a general rule, if you can cut your rate by 2% or more, it is worth investigating. Depending on whether there are fees associated with refinancing, you could end up saving a significant amount of money this way. It’s worth talking to your bank to see if you can get a better deal.
You do not have to refinance with the same bank you originally used. It’s wise to try them first, as they may offer you an attractive package to keep your business, but shop around and compare rates as you did the first time around.