Ways To Lower Mortgage Payment

7 Ways To Lower Your Monthly Mortgage Payment And Pave The Way To A Debt-Free Life

Shorten the amount of time it takes you to pay off your loan.

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For many Americans, their monthly mortgage payment is the bill that eats up most of their income. It's also the bill that most people would love to get rid of. If you have a mortgage with a payment term lasting for three decades, or even longer, it can seem as if you'll be paying on your mortgage for the rest of your life.

Fortunately, there are several ways to shorten the amount of time it takes you to pay off your loan. If you're looking to start a debt-free life, try these suggestions.

Improve your credit score.

Having a great credit score can help in several ways. The best way to improve your score is to make sure you pay all your bills on time while working toward paying off as many smaller loans (think credit cards) as you can. As you pay off each loan, use the money you were using to make the payment to pay down the principal on your home loan each month.

As soon as your credit score is high enough, look into the possibility of refinancing your mortgage. A better credit score can usually give you a better rate at the bank.

Monetize your property.

Use the property that you have a home loan on to actually make money. If the home is located in a desirable area, consider renting out a room to tourists or taking on a roommate.

No spare space? Consider using the backyard to start a vegetable or herb garden, and sell the produce at the local farmer's market. Not only could you earn extra money to pay down the mortgage, but using a part of the home exclusively for a business opens the door to take several tax breaks that can save hundreds of dollars a year.

It may even be possible to do a portion of the job you already have from home, allowing you to save money on transportation and deduct home office expenses from your tax bill.

Refinance into a loan with a shorter term.

As a general rule, shorter loan terms come with lower interest rates. Essentially, many lenders believe that loans that are paid off faster are less risky than those that stretch out over several decades.

If you haven't refinanced a mortgage through a home affordable modification program in several years, check to see if you qualify for a lower interest rate simply by refinancing into a mortgage that only knocks one or two years off of your loan term. Odds are you won't see an increase in your payment, but you'll cut down on the amount of time it takes to get the mortgage paid off.

Similarly, you may want to consider agreeing to a slightly higher payment if it takes a significant amount of time off of your loan.

Find a new mortgage with a lower interest rate.

Home loan rates are at historically low levels, which means many people will be pleasantly surprised when they shop for a new mortgage via a home affordability mortgage program. Even a small decrease in the interest rate can translate to thousands of dollars in savings over the life of a loan.

Find a mortgage with lower fees.

If you're currently paying PMI or finance fees, look for a mortgage that doesn't have these fees. Often these fees are dropped after there is sufficient equity in a property, so even if you have been turned down for better loans the past, be sure to reapply every few months to see if your situation now looks more favorable to a bank.

Be sure to take the time to look into a home affordable modification program.

Review insurance and taxes.

Home insurance and property taxes are usually paid into an escrow account each month and can be a large part of the monthly bill. Talk to an insurance agent about ways to reduce your home insurance bill.

Sometimes, simple upgrades can save a lot of money. While you're at it, check with your local property assessment office to see if there is any way to lower your property taxes. While you're exploring this possibility, ask about a home modification program that can help to lower some of these costs.

Conduct an energy audit.

After your mortgage, your electricity bill is probably your next highest bill. Fortunately, most power companies offer free or low-cost energy audits to help you determine ways to lower your electric bill.

Use the money you save to pay off your mortgage faster. It may even be possible to complete some home repairs that increase the value of your home, allowing you to increase the equity in the property without actually paying more toward your mortgage.

It's important to note that all of the suggestions on this list can be used together to help you reach your goal of paying off your mortgage faster. Consider using some of the ideas to save money while you research your options when it comes to refinancing your home.

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An Open Letter To Democrats From A Millennial Republican

Why being a Republican doesn't mean I'm inhuman.
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Dear Democrats,

I have a few things to say to you — all of you.

You probably don't know me. But you think you do. Because I am a Republican.

Gasp. Shock. Horror. The usual. I know it all. I hear it every time I come out of the conservative closet here at my liberal arts university.

SEE ALSO: What I Mean When I Say I'm A Young Republican

“You're a Republican?" people ask, saying the word in the same tone that Draco Malfoy says “Mudblood."

I know that not all Democrats feel about Republicans this way. Honestly, I can't even say for certain that most of them do. But in my experience, saying you're a Republican on a liberal college campus has the same effect as telling someone you're a child molester.

You see, in this day and age, with leaders of the Republican Party standing up and spouting unfortunately ridiculous phrases like “build a wall," and standing next to Kim Davis in Kentucky after her release, we Republicans are given an extreme stereotype. If you're a Republican, you're a bigot. You don't believe in marriage equality. You don't believe in racial equality. You don't believe in a woman's right to choose. You're extremely religious and want to impose it on everyone else.

Unfortunately, stereotypes are rooted in truth. There are some people out there who really do think these things and feel this way. And it makes me mad. The far right is so far right that they make the rest of us look bad. They make sure we aren't heard. Plenty of us are fed up with their theatrics and extremism.

For those of us brave enough to wear the title “Republican" in this day and age, as millennials, it's different. Many of us don't agree with these brash ideas. I'd even go as far as to say that most of us don't feel this way.

For me personally, being a Republican doesn't even mean that I automatically vote red.

When people ask me to describe my political views, I usually put it pretty simply. “Conservative, but with liberal social views."

“Oh," they say, “so you're a libertarian."

“Sure," I say. But that's the thing. I'm not really a libertarian.

Here's what I believe:

I believe in marriage equality. I believe in feminism. I believe in racial equality. I don't want to defund Planned Parenthood. I believe in birth control. I believe in a woman's right to choose. I believe in welfare. I believe more funds should be allocated to the public school system.

Then what's the problem? Obviously, I'm a Democrat then, right?

Wrong. Because I have other beliefs too.

Yes, I believe in the right to choose — but I'd always hope that unless a pregnancy would result in the bodily harm of the woman, that she would choose life. I believe in welfare, but I also believe that our current system is broken — there are people who don't need it receiving it, and others who need it that cannot access it.

I believe in capitalism. I believe in the right to keep and bear arms, because I believe we have a people crisis on our hands, not a gun crisis. Contrary to popular opinion, I do believe in science. I don't believe in charter schools. I believe in privatizing as many things as possible. I don't believe in Obamacare.

Obviously, there are other topics on the table. But, generally speaking, these are the types of things we millennial Republicans get flack for. And while it is OK to disagree on political beliefs, and even healthy, it is NOT OK to make snap judgments about me as a person. Identifying as a Republican does not mean I am the same as Donald Trump.

Just because I am a Republican, does not mean you know everything about me. That does not give you the right to make assumptions about who I am as a person. It is not OK for you to group me with my stereotype or condemn me for what I feel and believe. And for a party that prides itself on being so open-minded, it shocks me that many of you would be so judgmental.

So I ask you to please, please, please reexamine how you view Republicans. Chances are, you're missing some extremely important details. If you only hang out with people who belong to your own party, chances are you're missing out on great people. Because, despite what everyone believes, we are not our stereotype.

Sincerely,

A millennial Republican

Cover Image Credit: NEWSWORK.ORG

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Why The Idea Of 'No Politics At The Dinner Table' Takes Place And Why We Should Avoid It

When did having a dialogue become so rare?

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Why has the art of civilized debate and conversation become unheard of in daily life? Why is it considered impolite to talk politics with coworkers and friends? Expressing ideas and discussing different opinions should not be looked down upon.

I have a few ideas as to why this is our current societal norm.

1. Politics is personal.

Your politics can reveal a lot about who you are. Expressing these (sometimes controversial) opinions may put you in a vulnerable position. It is possible for people to draw unfair conclusions from one viewpoint you hold. This fosters a fear of judgment when it comes to our political beliefs.

Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum of political belief, there is a world of assumption that goes along with any opinion. People have a growing concern that others won't hear them out based on one belief.

As if a single opinion could tell you all that you should know about someone. Do your political opinions reflect who you are as a person? Does it reflect your hobbies? Your past?

The question becomes "are your politics indicative enough of who you are as a person to warrant a complete judgment?"

Personally, I do not think you would even scratch the surface of who I am just from knowing my political identification.

2. People are impolite.

The politics themselves are not impolite. But many people who wield passionate, political opinion act impolite and rude when it comes to those who disagree.

The avoidance of this topic among friends, family, acquaintances and just in general, is out of a desire to 'keep the peace'. Many people have friends who disagree with them and even family who disagree with them. We justify our silence out of a desire to avoid unpleasant situations.

I will offer this: It might even be better to argue with the ones you love and care about, because they already know who you are aside from your politics, and they love you unconditionally (or at least I would hope).

We should be having these unpleasant conversations. And you know what? They don't even need to be unpleasant! Shouldn't we be capable of debating in a civilized manner? Can't we find common ground?

I attribute the loss of political conversation in daily life to these factors. 'Keeping the peace' isn't an excuse. We should be discussing our opinions constantly and we should be discussing them with those who think differently.

Instead of discouraging political conversation, we should be encouraging kindness and understanding. That's how we will avoid the unpleasantness that these conversations sometimes bring.

By avoiding them altogether, we are doing our youth a disservice because they are not being exposed to government, law, and politics, and they are not learning to deal with people and ideas that they don't agree with.

Next Thanksgiving, talk politics at the table.

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