James McGlynn

I HAD A NEW HOME built in 2017. I financed it with a 30-year mortgage at a 3.875% interest rate.

Early last year, when interest rates dropped due to the pandemic, I suggested that readers refinance. I took my own advice, replacing my 30-year loan with a 15-year mortgage at 2.99%. The cost of refinancing seemed well worth the reduction in my loan interest rate.

Two months ago, I saw that mortgage rates had continued to decline, so I refinanced again. My existing mortgage company gave me a new, 15-year loan at 2.375%. I didn’t want to pay the upfront costs to refinance, but I didn’t have to: My current lender waived them because I was already a customer.

For those keeping score at home, the interest rate I pay has fallen 39% over the past four years. I started with a low-rate mortgage—and wound up with one that’s rock-bottom.

Readers may wonder whether I should pay off my mortgage entirely. I’ve decided I’d rather have more liquidity—by keeping more money in cash. True, my cash account pays just 1.35%, a lower rate than I owe on the mortgage. But I see my savings as insurance against an emergency. On top of that, with a healthy cash balance, I won’t be tempted to draw on the equity in my home for some big expense.

No one knows if and when interest rates will rise again. But I’ve locked in low rates for the duration. If short-term rates do rise, my mortgage payment won’t change. My cash account, however, may pay me more money.

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