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Paying Down One’s Mortgage In An Inflationary Environment

9 August 2010 4 Comments

When it comes to paying off your mortgage, I’m in the camp that you might be able to generate a better return, but I’d never try to convince you NOT to pay off your mortgage.  It’s a guaranteed return, a way to get debt free, and significantly lower your living expenses. When you start to consider future inflation, however, it definitely makes you pause with regards to paying off your mortgage.

Why?  Well, in inflation, debts become less.  If you owe $200,000 on your home and through inflation, the value of your money essentially is cut in half, well your debt is essentially now $100,000 (very basic example).

So, as we wait to see how this grand experiment in economic policy plays out, I start to wonder if it even makes sense to regularly pay down extra money on your mortgage – for example, maybe paying an extra $300 each month on your principal.  In a normal situation, I’d say that’s a great thing to do.

What’s an alternative?

Consider this… maybe, instead of putting that $300 into your mortgage every month (or $1000 or whatever), you put that into some sort of savings or investment vehicle.  While you wait in the coming years for inflation (or not inflation), you will have cash to then dump into your mortgage to pay it off if you decide at that time that is a proper strategy.

Here are the problems with that that I see:

  • You’re savings or money invested (that will eventually be used for your mortgage) will need to be inflation protected – not difficult but not just a matter of dumping into savings accounts
  • By waiting to pay down part of your mortgage, you’re losing the compounding factor – if you were to pay down $10,000 today on your mortgage, every payment from here on out will pay off a little more principal where if you kept that $10,000 in savings, you’re not paying off that small amount extra each month.

The main advantage of this strategy is that it prevents the following scenario: Consider the scenario where you dump a couple ten thousand dollars into your mortgage, then we get very high inflation.  That money you put into your mortgage has now definitely lost much of its effectiveness.

The solution… Maybe the solution is to do a blend of the above strategies.  If you have $500 extra to pay down your principal each month, maybe you do $250 of it, and stash the other $250 of it.

Paying down your mortgage is great, but I think you need to combine it with something hedged to inflation.  Maybe, purchase a few silver coins each month in addition to paying down your mortgage.

If you’re not sold on inflation, read this article which is the best article I’ve read in a while on why inflation is coming.

What are your thoughts on paying down your mortgage with inflation potentially looming?

4 Comments »

  • John said:

    I meant to say 30% less.

  • Artikel said:

    good