Mortgage acceleration programs offer homeowners ideas—some good, some terrible—about how they can hurry up and pay off their houses. Anything that gets you debt-free faster is good, but some of these programs take you into debt deeper and longer.
If the concept of having no payments appeals to you, we want you to know that you can cut years off your journey toward free-and-clear home ownership! Your success may or may not involve a mortgage acceleration program. Either way, let’s see what they are and how they work.
What Are Mortgage Acceleration Programs?
“Mortgage accelerator” just means accelerating how fast you pay off your mortgage. As great a goal as that is—and we agree it’s awesome—not all programs are created equal.
The American dream of owning a home—and we mean really owning it, by paying off the whole mortgage—is alive and well. Would you believe well over a third (37%) of homeowners have their nests paid off free and clear?1 Sounds dreamy.
Use the mortgage payoff calculator and see how fast you can pay off your home!
But some shady businesses know how much, and how many people would love to find a way to speed up their mortgage payoff. And too often lenders prey on that desire with worthless products you should avoid at all costs. Just remember there are no silver bullets against the mortgage monster. You can do it, but it’s up to you to make it happen.
Let’s look at both the good and the bad types of mortgage accelerator programs.
Types of Mortgage Acceleration
There are basically two kinds of mortgage accelerator plans floating around. We’ll try to make it obvious which one we like, and which one we recommend you run away from.
Biweekly Mortgage Payments
Many people love biweekly payment plans and have used them to pay their houses off years earlier than scheduled. Here are the basic features of this kind of mortgage acceleration:
- You pay half of a regular monthly payment, but every two weeks. Biweekly mortgages are not magic, but sticking to them for years could make you feel like you made your mortgage disappear with relative ease. All you have to do is split your monthly payment amount in half, and pay once every two weeks. Since there are 26 two-week periods in a year, you’ll make 26 half-payments every two weeks. And what are twenty-six halves equal to? Thirteen wholes! You’re paying an extra payment each year. That’s how you can pay your mortgage off about four years early, depending on your interest rate.
- Watch out for fees! Some lenders will try to sell you this option as a service, as if you couldn’t figure out the math and make the biweekly payments on your own. Absolutely avoid this!
- Feel free to set up a separate account. If your lender requires a fee to set up biweekly payments, simply set up a separate bank account dedicated to mortgage payments. In weeks when no monthly payment is due, deposit a biweekly payment amount. Then use that account to send your lender the normal monthly amount when its due. You’ll still sneak in the equivalent of one extra yearly payment and avoid the fees.
- Let’s repeat it one more time. There’s no way you should pay a fee to do biweekly mortgage payments.
And now for the bad mortgage accelerator.
Mortgage Accelerator HELOC
The other kind of mortgage accelerator program floating around out there is a total rip-off. Some lenders will try to sell you a piece of expensive software tied in with a home equity line of credit (HELOC) and pass it off as a way to pay your mortgage off faster. Sometimes these are called money merge accounts. Absolutely avoid these.
Recall that your whole reason for researching mortgage accelerators was to get out of debt, not further into it. But this HELOC scheme uses kooky marketing to pretend you can borrow your way out of debt fast! Make sense? We didn’t think so either!
Basically it’s a system where you pay all of your bills out of your home equity line of credit and you have your paycheck deposited against the HELOC directly. Then whatever is left from the deposits, the lender uses to pay down your mortgage.
The claims is that this will pay off your mortgage “magically”—and very fast. But there are huge problems with the whole scheme. First of all, there will be fees for the so-called service—but you want to use every extra dollar you have speeding out of debt. Then there’s the larger problem, which is that no matter how many times you move the shell labeled magic, the pea known as debt is still under there.
Is a Mortgage Accelerator the Best Choice?
Whether you get mixed up with a home equity line of credit or whether you use a yellow pad for a budget, in either case, your own behavior change will be the key to paying your mortgage off forever. We would never recommend borrowing money to pay off debt. And while some people go faster with the biweekly approach to mortgages, there’s no substitute for the burning desire to change your whole life for the better.
If you want to pay extra payments on your mortgage, you have to live on less than you make.
Other Mortgage Payoff Options
Here are a few other ways you might be able to speed your way out of mortgage debt faster than expected.
- Start by checking out our Mortgage Payoff Calculator. It lets you play with the numbers of both how much and how often you send payments. It can help you get a clear idea of how quickly you can pay off your home.
- Consider making an extra house payment each quarter—this is like the biweekly accelerator program on steroids!😍
- Brown-bag your lunch at the office. Seriously, just look at your food budget or your takeout receipts and add up what you spend monthly eating lunch out. Say it’s $100. If you brought home-cooked meals to work and sent the savings toward your mortgage, it could mean about an extra monthly payment a year.
- Downsize. Yeah, we said it. Painful as it might sound, selling the home you’re already in and getting something more modest could either finish off your mortgage or speed the process way, way up! Hey, you said you wanted to accelerate your way out of debt, right!
- Look into refinancing your mortgage. This could really help your efforts, depending on your situation. For instance, if you’re in a 30-year mortgage—as many people are—you can refinance it into a 15-year loan with a better interest rate! That immediately cuts the life of your mortgage in half and will motivate you all the more to make payments with all your might and speed.
Every day, highly motivated people figure out creative ways to send in the final mortgage payment so they can keep all of their income to themselves, and even give a whole bunch of it away. Having no payments going out can really boost your budget, your long-term wealth building and even how much fun you have in life.
Don’t fall into a mortgage accelerator rip-off. Get creative and stay focused on tried-and-true methods. You may be able to refinance your mortgage to help you pay it off early. Contact Churchill Mortgage today!