Owning a home is one of the cornerstones of a financial plan. However, making mortgage payments for 20 to 30 years can take a huge bite out of your budget, even with low interest rates.
A $300,000 mortgage at 3.29 per cent, amortized over 30 years will cost $161,300 in interest. That is if you keep it for the 30 years and our goals is to try to make it end much earlier.
There are 3 easy ways to start taking the years off:
1. Make a lump sum payment
A lump sum payment reduces your outstanding principal. The sooner you can make a prepayment, the less interest you’ll pay over the long term. Your mortgage contract will state how much pre-payment you are allowed to make without penalty. Most are 15-25% of the original mortgage amount and you can pay this annually.
Coming up with a large lump sum – up to $75,000 on a $300,000 mortgage – is huge and most people cannot do this annually. Even a small sum can reduce your overall interest amount.
2. Increase the amount of your payments
Paying an extra $100 a month on a $300,000 mortgage at 3.29 per cent over 30 years will save you more than $11,000 in interest and reduce the amortization by 3 1/2 years. If $100 is too much, just start with $25 and work your way up. Check your mortgage contract to see if there are rules about how often you can increase your payments without paying a fee.
3. Make more frequent payments
Financial institutions offer a number of payment options. The standard ones are: monthly, semi-monthly, bi-weekly and weekly. I recommend that you line your payments up with the way you get paid.
If you decide to make more frequent payments, make sure you choose an accelerated option. Accelerated weekly and bi-weekly payments can save you thousands because you’ll make the equivalent of one extra monthly payment each year. If you do not get paid bi-weekly, I have found that you should not do bi-weekly since it is really easy to miss a payment.
There is very little extra savings if you just switch to a more frequent payment without taking the “accelerated” option.
On the same $300,000 mortgage as above, a bi-weekly payment will save $289 in interest over the life of the mortgage. On the other hand, with an accelerated bi-weekly payment (an extra $50 per payment) you’ll save more than $18,000 over the life of the mortgage.