Question: My wife and both turn 50 this year. Our son is graduating college and our daughter enters college this fall. We are downsizing into a smaller home, purchasing with cash. We'll then sell our current home. I've looked forward to being "mortgage-free" for some time, but several of our friends suggest losing the tax advantage is a bad financial move. Chris, what is your opinion? Tom, Charlotte, NC.

Answer: First of all, from a financial point of view it's really smart to make a downsizing move while you're still working. You'll save a lot of money--no mortgage, lower property taxes, cheaper utility bills, and so forth--and you can salt away at least some of that money for later on. In a sense, it's a smart savings strategy. Secondly, I don't think the mortgage deduction is all that important to your bottom line. Sure, it helps. But it's far better to enter your Golden Years owning a home without a mortgage. This way you have a solid equity foundation for your overall portfolio. Go for it

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