Utilizing 401(k) funds to pay off a mortgage early results in less total interest paid to the lender over time. However, this advantage is strongest if you're barely into your mortgage term. If you're instead deep into paying the mortgage off, you've likely already paid the bulk of the interest you owe.
You can borrow against your 401(k) to pay down your mortgage, and then repay yourself at what's likely to be a much lower interest rate. This would allow you to pay off your house, save on interest, and preserve your retirement funds.
Paying off your mortgage may not be in your best interest if: You have to withdraw money from tax-advantaged retirement plans such as your 403(b), 401(k) or IRA. This withdrawal would be considered a distribution by the IRS and could push you into a higher tax bracket.
If the growth potential of your retirement savings is low compared to the interest rate on your mortgage, paying off your mortgage may be a good idea. But pre-tax contributions to your retirement account may offer better growth potential along with the possible tax benefit.
Under these provisions, first-time home buyers are allowed to withdraw up to $10,000 without incurring the 10% penalty. However, that $10,000 is still subject to state and federal income taxes. If your withdrawal exceeds $10,000, then the 10% penalty is applied to the additional distribution.
After you become 59 ½ years old, you can take your money out without needing to pay an early withdrawal penalty. You can choose a traditional or a Roth 401(k) plan. Traditional 401(k)s offer tax-deferred savings, but you'll still have to pay taxes when you take the money out.
The easiest way to borrow from your 401(k) without owing any taxes is to roll over the funds into a new retirement account. You may do this when, for instance, you leave a job and are moving funds from your former employer's 401(k) plan into one sponsored by your new employer.
It's also better to start saving for retirement early, so you can reap the benefits of compound interest over a longer period of time. As a general rule, the younger you are, the more you should prioritize your retirement savings over your mortgage.
Using one of these options to pay off your mortgage can give you a false sense of financial security. Unexpected expenses—such as medical costs, needed home repairs, or emergency travel—can destroy your financial standing if you don't have a cash reserve at the ready.
You should aim to have everything paid off, from student loans to credit card debt, by age 45, O'Leary says. “The reason I say 45 is the turning point, or in your 40s, is because think about a career: Most careers start in early 20s and end in the mid-60s,” O'Leary says.
The survey, "Retirement and Mortgages," by national mortgage banker American Financing, found 44 percent of Americans between the ages of 60 and 70 have a mortgage when they retire, and as many as 17 percent of those surveyed say they may never pay it off.
Dave Ramsey is certainly one of America's leading voices on finance. Ramsey is averse to debt of any kind and believes you should pay off your mortgage as fast as you can. In fact, he recommends that people only take out a 15-year mortgage that is no more than ¼ of their take-home pay.
Paying off your mortgage early is a good way to free up monthly cashflow and pay less in interest. But you'll lose your mortgage interest tax deduction, and you'd probably earn more by investing instead. Before making your decision, consider how you would use the extra money each month.
There may be early withdrawal penalties
Since you contribute pre-tax money to a traditional 401(k), you'll owe income taxes on any withdrawn money. However, if you make an early withdrawal from your 401(k) -- which is before the age of 59 ½ -- you'll likely be subjected to an additional 10% early distribution tax.
If you remove funds from your 401(k) before you turn age 59 1⁄2 , you will get hit with a penalty tax of 10% on top of the taxes you will owe to the IRS.
Most have paid off their mortgages. In 2020, 58% of the state's equity millionaires owned their homes free and clear. Statewide, there has been a dramatic rise in the number of Californians who have paid off their mortgages, from 1.6 million households in 2000 to 2.4 million in 2020.
Your home will be a disproportionate percentage of your net worth. By paying off your mortgage early, it's likely that a large amount of your net worth will be tied up in your home. This comes with its own risks. Real estate is often considered a safer investment than stocks, but it's not without risks.
What are the benefits of being mortgage free? Having more disposable income, and no interest to pay, are just some of the great benefits to being mortgage free. When you pay off your mortgage, you'll have much more money to put into savings, spend on yourself and access when you need it.
It's typically smarter to pay down your mortgage as much as possible at the very beginning of the loan to save yourself from paying more interest later. If you're somewhere near the later years of your mortgage, it may be more valuable to put your money into retirement accounts or other investments.
Deferring Social Security payments, rolling over old 401(k)s, setting up IRAs to avoid the mandatory 20% federal income tax, and keeping your capital gains taxes low are among the best strategies for reducing taxes on your 401(k) withdrawal.
When you withdraw funds from your 401(k)—or "take distributions," in IRS lingo—you begin to enjoy the income from this retirement mainstay and face its tax consequences. For most people, and with most 401(k)s, distributions are taxed as ordinary income.
Income from a 401(k) does not affect the amount of your Social Security benefits, but it can boost your annual income to a point where they will be taxed or taxed at a higher rate.
By age 50, retirement-plan provider Fidelity recommends having at least six times your salary in savings in order to retire comfortably at age 67. By age 55, it recommends having seven times your salary.