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Should You Pay Off Your Mortgage or Invest?

Posted by Busey Bank on Jul 25, 2023 10:00:00 AM
Busey Bank

Owning a home outright is a dream that many Americans share. Having a mortgage can be a burden and paying it off may be the first item on your financial to-do list. But competing with the desire to own your home free and clear is your need to invest for retirement, your child's college education and evaluating your liquidity. Putting extra cash toward one of these goals may mean sacrificing another. So how do you choose?

The hands of three people are seen as they sit around a table. One is holding a pen and a piece of paper is on the table.

Evaluating the opportunity cost

Deciding between prepaying your mortgage and investing your extra cash isn't easy, because each option has advantages and disadvantages. But you can start by weighing what you'll gain financially by choosing one option against what you'll give up. In economic terms, this is known as evaluating the opportunity cost.

For example, let's assume that you have a $300,000 balance and 20 years remaining on your 30-year mortgage, and you're paying 6.25% interest. If you were to put an extra $400 toward your mortgage each month, you would save approximately $62,000 in interest, and pay off your loan almost six years early. By making extra payments and not paying all of that interest, you'll clearly be gaining a lot of financial ground.

But before you opt to prepay your mortgage, you still should consider what you might be giving up. Start by looking at the after-tax rate of return you can expect from prepaying your mortgage. If you itemize deductions on your tax returns, factor in any tax deduction you receive for mortgage interest. Once you’ve calculated that figure, compare it to the after-tax return you could receive by investing your extra cash. Which one is higher?

Keep in mind that the rate of return you'll receive is directly related to the investments you choose. All investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal, and there can be no assurance that any investment strategy will be successful. Investments with the potential for higher returns may expose you to more potential loss of principal, so take this into account when making your decision.

Other points to consider

While evaluating the opportunity cost is important, you'll also need to weigh many other factors, including:

  • What is your peace of mind worth? Knowing you don’t have a mortgage is a powerful thought.
  • What's your mortgage interest rate? The lower the rate on your mortgage, the greater the potential to receive a better return through investing.
  • Does your mortgage have a prepayment penalty? Most mortgages don’t but check before making extra payments.
  • How long do you plan to stay in your home? The main benefit of prepaying your mortgage is the amount of interest you save over the long term; if you plan to move soon, there could be less value in putting more money toward your mortgage.
  • Do you have an emergency account to cover unexpected expenses? It doesn't make sense to make extra mortgage payments now if you'll be forced to borrow money at a higher interest rate later. And keep in mind that if your financial circumstances change, you may have more trouble borrowing against your home equity.
  • Are you currently paying mortgage insurance? If you are, putting extra money toward your mortgage until you've gained at least 20% equity in your home may make sense.
  • Have you saved enough for retirement? If you haven't, consider contributing the maximum allowable each year to tax-advantaged retirement accounts before prepaying your mortgage.
  • How much time do you have before you reach retirement or until your children go off to college? The longer your timeframe, the more time to potentially grow your money by investing. Alternatively, if paying off your mortgage before focusing on another financial goal will make you feel more secure, factor that into your decision.

The middle ground

If you need to invest for other goals, but you also want the satisfaction of paying down your mortgage, there's no reason you can't do both. It's as simple as allocating part of your available cash toward one goal and putting the rest toward the other. Even small adjustments can make a difference.

And remember, no matter what you decide now, you can adjust your strategy to keep up with changes to your circumstances, market conditions and interest rates. The experienced team at Busey Wealth Management can help you develop a solid plan for your financial future. To learn more or to find an advisor near you, visit


This is not intended to provide legal, tax or accounting advice. Any statement contained in this communication concerning U.S. tax matters is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of avoiding penalties imposed on the relevant taxpayer. Clients should obtain their own independent tax advice based on their particular circumstances.

This material is provided for educational purposes only and should not be construed as investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities.

This presentation is for general information purposes only. It does not take into account the particular investment objectives, restrictions, tax and financial situation or other needs of any specific client.

Investment products and services through Busey Wealth Management are:
Not FDIC INSURED | May lose value | No bank guarantee

Topics: Wealth

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