Paying Down a Mortgage Early for Mathematical Reasons

There are few topics more hotly debated in personal finance than the age-old mortgage pay-down discussion. One side argues that you should never make extra payments on a mortgage.

Instead, those additional funds should be invested in something with a higher return on investment. The other side argues there are behavioral benefits to paying extra on a mortgage.

We were neither investing nor paying down the mortgage early in our case. We were spending the money elsewhere. I believe this is the reality for most people.

First, A Story

Unfortunately, not everyone (myself included) has the financial discipline of the personal finance community. Logic does not always prevail. Often, life happens. And life is expensive.

In the past, many would have invested their money into bonds, Treasury bills, or certificates of deposit.

The Mathematical Reason for Paying Down a Mortgage

The former rule of thumb was to invest your age into these lower-risk assets. So, for example, if you were 30-years-old, you’d want to be 70% invested in stocks and 30% in bonds or other lower-risk assets.

If you leave that money in stocks for ten years or more, you’ll likely have more money than by paying down a mortgage.

Where Besides Stocks Do You Plan to Invest?

Not everyone feels comfortable investing 100% of their money into stocks, even less volatile index funds. Going all-in on any investment strategy or asset class has more risk than what we are comfortable taking on.

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