Recently my wife, Colleen, and I modified our mortgage. I’d like to share some of our thinking because it illustrates some of the trade-offs made in personal finance.
But first, a little background. As you would expect from a financial advisor, my wife and I have the basics covered:
We decided to pay off a portion of our 3.75%, 30-year mortgage and refinance to a 15-year mortgage at 2.75%. The interest we will save is likely less than the return we would have seen had we invested the money instead. So modifying our mortgage was a suboptimal decision from a financial perspective.
Why would I have done this? Am I not a super-rational financial advisor?
Yes, but our family has several values that led us to our decision:
>> MORE: How to refinance your mortgage
I like to think of it this way: Values + Goals + $$$ = Financial Plans
The money doesn’t drive your plan — the plan drives your money. Financial analysis and planning can provide structure for your life, but don’t drive the meaning or make your goals. You do.
Here’s an abbreviated list of our pros and cons of the mortgage modification we chose:
We calculated that every $1 we paid off when we switched from a 30- to a 15-year loan will save us more than $1.15 in interest. We chose the guaranteed savings over the potential return on investing. People in a different situation might make a different decision. That’s why it’s called personal finance.
This also highlights the importance of running the numbers. You have to do the analysis (or have someone do it for you). We spent lots of time reviewing the options and calculating the impact. We thought about it, and talked about it, for weeks before finalizing a decision.
The financial analysis didn’t make the decision, but it did provide the structure and information to help us. Ultimately, our personal values trumped the math, but we still did the math first.
This is not an analysis of whether you should modify your mortgage, rather an illustration of how to think about tackling financial issues.
2. We developed financial models and impacts of the various scenarios that we were considering.
3. We weighed the pros and cons.
4. We made a decision.
Hopefully this example will serve as a guide for financial decisions you might make.
The article I’m a Financial Advisor. Here’s Why I Modified My Mortgage. originally appeared on NerdWallet.