Wealth Column: The 30-year gorilla in the room

Bruce Helmer and Peg Webb, financial advisers at Wealth Enhancement Group and co-hosts of “Your Money” on KLKS 100.1 FM on Sunday mornings.
Bruce Helmer and Peg Webb, financial advisers at Wealth Enhancement Group and co-hosts of “Your Money” on KLKS 100.1 FM on Sunday mornings.

The income you are relying on now will not, by definition, be available to you when you retire.

Unfortunately, your bills keep coming. You don’t get to retire those. We don’t think that’s fair, either.

Unless you are one of the lucky few that has paid off your mortgage, you are probably looking at

continuing to make mortgage payments into retirement. It’s the gorilla in the room. How do you continue to pay something you budgeted for with the money you are making now?

Now is the time to take a look at your projected budget and see if your existing mortgage payment fits into that. Be realistic, understanding that in the first few years of retirement, you are likely to spend more, not less. Here are some additional tips for helping to make your mortgage work.


Consider your home needs in retirement

Have your children moved out? Maybe it is time to downsize. Are you paying a premium for a short commute time? Consider a place a bit farther out.

The easiest way to reduce your mortgage payment is to own a less expensive property. Be cautioned, however, that in this housing market, very little comes cheap. A lot of folks might be looking to move to warmer locales, and those can cost more per square foot.

If moving doesn’t make sense, consider remodeling your home to facilitate generating rental income. In some cases, a renter can pay over half your mortgage while leaving you with plenty of living space.

Take advantage of the mortgage interest deduction

This takes a little more effort for many taxpayers than it has in past years. But if you are close to being able to itemize on your deductions, consider bundling charitable contributions, especially if you plan to retire next year. This is especially important if you are in the first few years of your mortgage, or are refinancing now, as most of your payment is going to interest.

Making refinancing work for you Unless you are living under a rock, you’ve probably heard now is a good time to refinance. But before you do, look at your retirement plan.

Do you have high-interest debt, such as credit card debt or automobile loans? It might be worth using the equity in your house to get that squared away before you retire.

You might be tempted to refinance into a 15-year mortgage. After all, the shorter the loan period, the fewer payments you must make in retirement. However, the overall savings are minimal, and you will be at an increased risk in a cash crunch of compromising your retirement plans or, worse, losing your house.

Make sure your investments are on track

Of course, the ideal way to make sure you can pay your mortgage is to have enough money in retirement to begin with. If you need to, take advantage of increased limits on 401(k) contributions if you’re over 50. If you have concerns, share them with your advisor, who will be familiar with your specific situation.


Bruce Helmer and Peg Webb are financial advisers at Wealth Enhancement Group and co-hosts of “Your Money” on News Radio 830 WCCO on Sunday mornings. Email Bruce and Peg at Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through Wealth Enhancement Advisory Services, LLC, a registered investment adviser. Wealth Enhancement Group and Wealth Enhancement Advisory Services are separate entities from LPL.
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