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How to avoid carrying a mortgage too long

Develop a “cash flow’’ plan that estimates the total amount of household expenses you’ll need to pay each month in retirement. If you believe you’ll have enough liquid savings on hand to pay those bills, it’s probably a good idea to be aggressive in paying off your mortgage early.

Refinance your current mortgage into a shorter-term 15- or 10-year loan, shaving off years from your long-term mortgage-payment schedule. Interest rates for such loans are now at historic lows, making short-term mortgage plans more affordable.

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Make an extra mortgage payment each year - or a total of 13 per year. This could cut a year or two off from your long-term mortgage payment schedule, depending on when you begin the extra payments.

Stay or switch to rental units upon retirement, eliminating the need for monthly mortgage payments altogether. The main drawbacks to this plan are that rent prices can rise each year, and rents require dipping into savings accounts each month.

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