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From CDs to Mortgage?

Chris Farrell Apr 3, 2008

Question: I have a $240,000 fixed rate mortgage at 5.75%. My monthly PITI payment is a little under $1,900/month. And I get by OK on my retirement and cash flow from a rental. I’m 58 and single, and I’m able to file an itemized return.

Now that CD rates are falling, I was wondering if it made sense to divert some of the expiring CDs’ funds into the mortgage. My mortgage is recastable, so I can lower my payment for every $10,000 I chunk into it. What’s more, I can’t get anything like 5.75% on any safe investments. I’m gun shy of The Market right now. What’s more, I have also been turned off by most stocks’ stingy dividends. I do have some mutual funds and some utility stocks.

I could throw-in up to $100K and still have around $200K in cash left in CDs (not including IRAs). That amount would take the mortgage down by around $700/month. Basically, that extra money would provide me with extra spending money or money to pay off the mortgage principal. I have around 25 years left on the mortgage.

Does this make sense from the perspective of “tax savings?” I would have less taxable income at non-preferential rates from the CDs, but I would have a smaller interest deduction. Is this deduction worth it? Anonymous.

Answer: I think you have already answered your question. There is nothing wrong with paying down your mortgage early and, you’re absolutely right, you lock in a 5.75% rate of return. And while the tax deduction helps, it isn’t that valuable compared to the what you will save in interest. If you scroll through my previous answers on this question you’ll see that I worry about homeowners putting too much of their savings into one asset–their home–and not enough into stocks, bonds, international securities, and cash. But you have accumulated a good amount of savings, and accelerating payments on a mortgage (or any debt) is a sound strategy for the risk averse–especially in this market.

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