Deciding Not To Pay Off My Mortgage Early: Don’t Look a Gift Horse In the Mouth

should you invest or pay off the mortgageThis is a guest post from Sov at Break 50. Enjoy!

Wouldn’t it be great if I paid off the mortgage? Remove those shackles – no more ball and chain – I could sit in the garden with a beer, no more worries – Financial Freedom – whoopee!

These were my initial thoughts back in 2006 when I set out my Road to Financial Freedom. I got very excited by the on-line mortgage repayment calculators – look how much I’d save by paying the mortgage off early!

‘Mortgage-free’ became my first big goal

I became obsessed. It took over my life. I cut expenditure wherever possible, focused on increasing my salary and bonuses, and stashed away any excess cash. She’s forgiven me now but I didn’t even tell my lovely wife about the secret mission.

It’s amazing what you can achieve if you have a dream (mine is Financial Freedom) and a decent goal (ie. pay off the mortgage). It took me just over 5 years to save enough money to pay off the mortgage – wow, did I really do that?

But was the ‘pay it off’ question really that straight forward? Unfortunately nothing in life is quite that simple! After 5 years of somewhat weird obsessive behaviour, I was sitting on a juicy pot of cash (£140,000) – all the fruits of my hard labour – I’d arrived at my goal!

Or had I?

Should I Really Pay Off My Mortgage Early?

Doubts starting rattling round my head…

  • How stable is my job – what would happen if I got made redundant?
  • Shouldn’t I have some emergency funds?  – ‘they’ say you should have 6 months of salary as a comfort blanket.
  • Would I ever get another mortgage as good as this one?
  • Should I invest my juicy pot of cash in a savings account paying 3%, or invest it in the stock market?
  • My next goal was to purchase a buy-to-let property – how would I get the deposit if the £140,000 had gone?

After much ‘chewing the cud’, I eventually made the decision NOT to rid myself of the mortgage shackles, not just yet anyway!

I’m not suggesting this decision is wise for everyone. I was fortunate enough to get a great mortgage deal before the financial crisis in 2008: an off-set mortgage only 0.5% above the Bank of England base rate (currently 0.5%). No exit penalties. Totally flexible. I’ll never get a deal like it again.

Why throw away this ‘low cost’ slush fund, this gift horse, especially when my spare cash is working harder elsewhere?

Investing Instead of Paying Off The Mortgage

Luckily I didn’t invest it (all) in the stock market and I’ve since achieved my second goal: purchasing a buy-to-let property – utilizing a chunk of the £140,000 as a deposit. And I won’t be paying off this second mortgage any time soon – (in the UK) the interest from a buy-to-let mortgage can be offset against rental income tax. As fate would have it, I was also made redundant in March and the slush fund is proving very handy.

I’m a great believer that debt is the devil and we should ideally live within our means. But I’m now benefiting from the one exception to this rule – where the borrowed money can work harder elsewhere (as long as you’re fully aware of the risks and plan for worst case scenarios).

One day I may reverse the ‘don’t pay it off’ decision, especially if mortgage interest rates rise quickly, but for the time being I’ve ended up with two mortgages – I’m still shackled – now dragging two balls and chain around with me.

But don’t look a gift horse in the mouth!

Onwards and upwards.

Sov

After many years in the Music and Telecoms industries, Sov is now a professional blogger from the UK. His Break50 blog tracks his personal journey: ‘Ten Steps to Financial Freedom’. Sov’s ultimate dream is to retire with net assets of £4 million – his current score is £1.6 million!

Kim’s Comments: That’s almost $2.7 million US Dollars! Sov is rocking it in the UK, where everything is expensive. I think it’s a wonderful goal to pay off the mortgage, but shelling out that huge amount of money is really hard for the reasons mentioned above, and it seems to have worked out well in this case. 

Image: Freedigitalphotos.net/Miles

 

Written By
Sydney White is a Texas-born stay at home mom who enjoys spending time with her family, bargain hunting and, of course, writing. She is currently the editor-in-chief of Snipon.com.

17 Comments

  1. Like others have said, we really desire the peace of mind that comes from owing no one, however, it sounds to me like you made some smart choices for your particular situation, Sov. Thanks for sharing your story; it’s inspiring!

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