No Mortgage More Courage: Pay Off All Debt Before Retiring

In early 2005, at the age of 28, I took out a $1,220,000 mortgage to buy a $1,523,000 house in San Francisco. After having bought a modest condo a couple of years earlier, I wanted to go all-in. In retrospect, this was a crazy amount of debt to take on at that age.

When the downturn really started getting nasty in 2008, I was sweating bullets. By 2009, my firm had already gone through seven rounds of layoffs. I knew numerous people from other firms who had gotten laid off.

Thankfully, I didn't get laid off. After failing to sell the house for $1,700,000 in 2012, I tried again in 2017. It sold it for $2,745,000 to the one and only interested party. Not only did it feel amazing to walk away with a profit, it also felt great to get rid of $815,000 in mortgage debt.

When I decided to buy my current much cheaper house, I thought about taking advantage of low mortgage rates. However, I kept remembering the wonderful feeling I had when I got rid of the rental property mortgage in 2017.

Besides, I wanted to sell some stocks after a 10-year bull market and use a true all-cash offer to get a better deal. It ultimately worked through a couple real estate love letters and one breakup letter.

Having No Mortgage Debt Is The Way To Go

The debate between paying off debt and investing will rage on forever because everybody is at a different point in their financial lives. Further, no one person has the same risk tolerance or financial objectives.

I suggest readers follow my FS-DAIR methodology and do both when you're at the beginning or during the middle of your financial journey.

Pay Down Debt Or Invest Framework - FS-DAIR

However, for those of you who are towards the end of your rapid wealth accumulation phase, I recommend shifting the balance in favor of paying down as much debt as possible. Ideally, you will be mortgage debt free by the time you cannot or no longer want to make money.

I understand the need for mortgages. Most people do not have enough cash to pay for a home. Another reason, however, is many people want to juice their real estate investment returns. Leverage is a wonderful tool on the way up, but it is also a devastating tool on the way down.

There was probably some point during the 2008 – 2009 financial crisis that on paper, approximately 90% of my primary home equity had been wiped out.

The feeling of potentially losing everything is something I never want to experience again. Therefore, I promised to refinance my mortgage every time mortgage rates dropped and I could break even within 12 months. I also promised to pay down extra principal every time I had some extra cash.

Although money is dirt cheap, not having to make monthly mortgage payments feels wonderful. Besides not paying any interest, I also don't have to deal with a bank that may one-day sell-off our mortgage. If this happens, we would be forced us to change our autopay setup. 

While I do enjoy popping into the bank once in a while to pay down extra principal, it feels better to never have to pop into the bank at all. All banking transactions are done through my mobile phone now.

No Mortgage, Less Worry

Having no mortgage on our primary residence is one of the reasons why my wife and I have felt more calm during this global pandemic versus the 2008 – 2009 financial crisis. Yes, I still felt that jolt of fear when the S&P 500 was correcting by 10% a day, but it felt more like a body blow than an uppercut to the chin back then.

We also worry less about our retirement income getting slashed since our cost of living is so low. It's also nice to know that a bank doesn't have a lien against our property.

If you want to achieve financial independence quicker, do your best to keep housing expense at 10% of your gross income or lower. At this level of expense, you can withstand all sorts of financial mishaps and not really worry too much.

I have certainly desired to live in a much larger and fancier home before, especially now that we're in lockdown. However, it's been really hard to give up a frugal lifestyle that provides for more flexibility.

Housing Expense Guideline For Financial Independence

Since having my first child in 2017, I have focused on trying to reduce financial stress. As my parental responsibilities have increased with two kids now, reducing stress is even more important.

No Mortgage, More Courage!

Until 2020, I had never owned a principal residence without a mortgage. As I reflected on the 2008 – 2009 crisis, I reminisced that even though I strongly felt I should buy stocks down 50%, I couldn't force myself to do so beyond contributing to my 401(k). I was too worried about losing my job and money in all my investments.

This time around, not having a mortgage gave us more confidence to take on more risk. For example, after I did my stock market bottom analysis, I had no problem investing ~$500,000 into the S&P 500 when it went below 2,500. I had some extra cash lying around, so why not take advantage.

Below is a screenshot of me buying $100,000+ worth of stock during the height of the panic. Given there are no more trading commissions, I decided to buy multiple tranches of stock. The swings were so volatile.

Whereas, if I had put down 20% and carried a $1,400,000 mortgage for our existing primary residence, I'm not sure I would have had the guts to buy on the way down. I don't even know if I could have written a rational article about analyzing a stock market bottom. I may have been too stressed out.

Further, if I had had a mortgage on our primary residence, that would have meant I wouldn't have had sold ~$1,000,000 in stocks in 2019 to help pay for the house in cash. Having a mortgage plus $1,000,000 in stocks that were declining would have made it too risky for me to invest more into the stock market.

I've since sold all the stock I bought below 2,500, between 2,800 – 3,000. The proceeds will be used to pay for an upcoming remodel and some gifts for my children. It's my way of trying to eke out a win during this difficult time.

Other Activities That Require Courage

Besides having the courage to buy stocks when they are getting pounded, think about all the other things in your life that are scary to do. If you could some how muster up the courage to do them, your life could change for the better.

Courage to quit your job. Quitting your job in the middle of a global pandemic is no easy task. But with enhanced unemployment benefit, no debt, and learning how to negotiate a severance, your courage goes way up.

Courage to start a business. Most people don't want to start a small business for a variety of reasons: they don't have an idea, don't have the funds, don't have the time, and fear rejection. But thanks to the internet, the cost to start has gone way down. If you have no debt and low startup costs, then your courage to start goes up.

Courage to break up. Let's say you are saddled with debt and have an unstable job. Despite hating your partner, you stay in your loveless relationship for the financial security. If you don't have debt, you can break free from your relationship. If you have your finances in order, you can find happiness elsewhere.

No debt creates more courage. However, no mortgage also creates less motivation to work hard. Therefore, be careful!

Get Rid Of Your Mortgage Before You Retire

When you no longer care about maximizing your returns, you will naturally become more motivated to pay down your mortgage debt to zero, no matter how low the interest rate. You get more comfortable with boring single digit investment or net worth returns.

You might be wondering when will you naturally stop caring so much about maximizing your returns? The answer is when you have enough retirement income to cover a basic standard of living. The last thing you want to do is lose lots of money, lose so much time, and be forced back to work.

Therefore, if you find yourself one day very motivated to pay down your mortgage, you might just be closer to financial independence than you think. After all, actions speak louder than words.

Please pay off your primary mortgage before you retire. Peace of mind is worth way more than any amount of extra returns you might make investing elsewhere.

For those who are considering buying property during a pandemic, now could actually be a good time. Mortgage rates are at all-time lows and there are some deals to be had.

Shop Around For A Better Mortgage Rate

If you're looking to refinance your mortgage, check the latest mortgage rates online. You can get free mortgage quotes from qualified lenders in one place.

Invest In Real Estate More Strategically

Real estate is my favorite way to achieving financial freedom because it is a tangible asset that is less volatile, provides utility, and generates income. Stocks are fine, but stock yields are low and stocks are much more volatile. 

The combination of rising rents and rising real estate prices builds tremendous wealth over the long term. Meanwhile, there are more ways to invest in areas of the country where valuations are lower and net rental yields are higher thanks to crowdfunding. 

Take a look at my two favorite real estate crowdfunding platforms that are free to sign up and explore:

Fundrise: A way for accredited and non-accredited investors to diversify into real estate through private eFunds. Fundrise has been around since 2012 and has consistently generated steady returns, no matter what the stock market is doing. The real estate platform has over 300,000 investors and manages over $3 billion. 

CrowdStreet: A way for accredited investors to invest in individual real estate opportunities mostly in 18-hour cities. 18-hour cities are secondary cities with lower valuations, higher rental yields, and potentially higher growth due to job growth and demographic trends.

I've personally invested $810,000 in real estate crowdfunding across 18 projects to take advantage of lower valuations in the heartland of America. My real estate investments account for roughly 50% of my current passive income of ~$300,000. 

Readers, where are you on the pay down mortgage versus invest debate? If you have paid off your mortgage, have you ever experienced regret doing so? Does having a paid-off mortgage feel better or worse during a bear market? Given the low interest rates, have you been tempted to take on more debt through a HELOC or cash-out refinance?

About The Author

104 thoughts on “No Mortgage More Courage: Pay Off All Debt Before Retiring”

  1. Mark Fuckerburg Zucks

    The sad part about having a paid off home ìs it will always require payments. It’s never truly yours. I have a really nice home of about 5000 sqft on a few acres in GA. It’s worth 680-750k and taxes are “low” at $5500. I would still have to pay over $500 per month with a paid off mortgage or risk losing it. On the brighter side, when I’m 65 the school portion of the taxes are removed. I think that would be fair to only pay that portion for 20 years. After all, my kids are in school for only 13 years.

  2. Howard Beaver

    My wife and I purposely planned the mortgage to pay off the year before the kids started college. Then turn what was the mortgage payments into monthly college payments. We did not like 529 plans as your essentially trying to time the market…that it will be a good time to sell the stocks in the 529 plan while the kids are in college. That did not make sense to us so any extra funds after the mortgage went to our retirement accounts and not a 529 plan. It worked very well, in that now both my wife and I, and our children, are debt free!! no mortgages…no college loans! The feeling of making that last mortgage payment was so empowering and liberating. I felt financial stress just fade away! I cannot imagine having long term debt again to a mortgage…even for investment purposes. No matter what happens economically I feel confident I can come out win win. The futures mine!

  3. People still accumulating wealth should invest in the market, once you have collected an amount that makes you feel more secure in life then move to mortgage payoff. I agree with alot of these comments that a 3-4% return isnt enough when you are young and need your money to work better for you.

    Have loved your site for years Sam and the posts have truly given me direction as I work towards leaving fulltime work.

  4. Interesting article and comments. I Myself hate investing with the debt but feel like I’m forced to do so, and have been investing with debt since 2009 when I was 20 years old. Outcome has so far been excellent and getting the “free loan” actually sparked my interest in investing. The reason I feel forced to use the debt is that I need to pay only 0,25% margin on it…

    To clarify though I’m living in Finland (EUR) where government guarantees student and housing loans. Moreover ECB rates have long been below zero and will probably not rise for a long time due to indebted governments. Obviously that margin rate of mine variable so I’m taking a risk over increasing rates, and currency risk when investing outside Eurozone. I’m not too concerned about that though with my global portfolio.

    Would be great to have some outsider-perspective from US what would you do with variable rate EUR loan with 0,25% margin? I Have concluded it’s like an arbitrage and would be stupid to pay it off.

      1. It’s basically 1/1 ARM and 0,25% margin above 12 months euribor rate. Actual interest rate now is 0.25% because Euribors are currently negative but my contract limits minimum baseline to zero + margin. For example for 100k€ loan I need to currently pay 250€ of interest a year. In Denmark some banks were even paying you to take loan. Maybe it is coming to you in US too but not sure about the consequences of this in larger scale :)

        I Understand it is impossible to give information to others with so limited info but my question rather was what would You do with 0,25% 1/1 ARM loan?

  5. Jason Harmon

    I completely disagree with this advice. Interest rates have been decreasing for 40 years to their lowest point ever in history. Rates at this low level will not last forever. To take $1 and payoff a mortgage with an interest rate of about 3.5% (today’s refinance rates), is the same thing as settling for a low return investment. In today’s low interest rate environment, I would strongly suggest NOT paying down the mortgage and instead taking your excess cash and investing it in a low risk S&P 500 index fund. And to boot, if you have a lot of equity in your home, refinance your mortgage now taking out as much as 80% of your equity in cash. Then take the cash and invest it in an S&P 500 index fund. Keep the mortgage outstanding for a full 30 year term. You will pay 3.5% interest expense, but earn at least 8% average returns in your S&P 500 index fund. You will be able to pay the mortgage interest, real estate taxes, and homeowners insurance expense with the return on the stock market. Bottom line: use your home equity to provide yet another stream of passive income. You can produce a spread of at least 4.5% for 30 years in today’s rate environment. I’ve employed this tactic twice now and it has paid off huge. I just refinanced my house and took another $80k of cash out to invest in the stock market during this recession (low point). When the market recovers, I’ll have a good windfall in the first 1-2 years of the investment. Thereafter, I’ll still continue to reap a 4.5% spread for 30 years. Paying off your mortgage before retirement is old advice. The rate environment has completely flipped this old knowledge base upside down.

    1. **earn at least 8% average returns in your S&P 500 index fund

      There is NO guaranteed return in the stock market and it’s not low risk either. Plus, how about crisis times when a person perhaps loses their job?

    2. As the article said, it will depend on your comfort with debt. I’m on board with the pay off mortgage camp as well, despite low interest rates, looking forward to FI in a couple of years. Borrowing to invest vs paying off debt is a gradient of risk. If you are aggressive for example, not only would you not pay off your mortgage, but would you be willing to take out a 2nd mortgage on your home (or HELOC, or some other additional loan) to invest and earn 8%?

    3. I agree to a point for sure. If at the end of your career and ready to retire i fully agree with paying off mortgage. If you are younger and still accumulating wealth then yes you should be investing in the market as history shows thats clearly worth more.

  6. How far down you are on the amortization schedule should probably factor into calculations on invest or pay down. We are really early on a 30 year fixed, since we refinanced in early March. The amount going to interest per month is huge. Getting down to half way on the schedule would mean more of your payment per month is going to capital payment.

  7. Well, I guess FS-DAIR gives me the strategy needed to pay off my mortgage, so thank you!

    So many people believe that if you have low interest debt you should just keep paying the minimum on the debt (in my case my standard mortgage payment) and invest any surplus income you have.

    Obviously I get it because the S&P has had annualized returns of about 10% and our mortgage is only 3.25%, so if you do the simple math on that I’m giving up 6.75% by choosing to not invest the money; however, it’s impossible to time the market and I think the important thing is being comfortable in the decision you make.

    I’d never completely forego investing simply to pay down our mortgage, but as long as our IRAs, 401(k) and brokerage account goals are met, I feel comfortable putting any excess cash towards paying down the mortgage because it will lead to freedom earlier than later.

    Thankfully we bought our home at 23, so even IF we chose not to pay our mortgage off early, we’d still have it paid off before retirement. No need to refinance when we locked in a 3.25% rate back then.

  8. Such a tough decision. We invest at least 30-35% of our gross income purely in the stock market. Just re-financed our mortgage to a 15 year 2.875% fixed. Have ~430,000 left on it. Only 35 years old. HHI is around 350K per year. Given we are unlikely to itemize our deductions any more starting this year, unsure if I should do extra principal to our new refinanced mortgage or just keeping hitting the stock market hard (especially with prices being “down”). Love your website and excellent article as usual.

  9. As a matter of preference, we have had 2 homes in our lifetime both of which we paid off early. When we first married, we lived in a very small apartment for 2 years before we saved up enough for a down payment and a 10% mortgage for our first, very modest starter home. After 15 years, we paid off our home and lived in for another 2 years before we decided to upgrade, especially with 2 teenagers, we needed another bathroom :-). After 10 years (in 2014), we paid off our current home when at the age of 50 I had an opportunity to take an early out from my employer of 20 years and used the package proceeds to pay off our home. I was able to find employment and have been fortunate to be gainfully employed and have invested what we would have been paying in mortgage payments for the last 6 years through dollar cost averaging in investments or building up our cash reserve for hopefully an early retirement. I think being disciplined, paying off our mortgage and having a plan with our investment goals both taxable and non-taxable has given us a great deal of flexibility, especially in crisis situations such as what we are encountering now to help our family have the needs of shelter, food so that we can spend the time to help others that may not be as fortunate whether in the family or publicly.

  10. I’m settling an estate for a close relative…they were 5 years into a 15 year mortgage when they were laid off at age 60, never found work again.

    They immediately refinanced to a 30 year mortgage and cashed in their pension in order to make it to age 62 when they started taking (reduced) SS retirement.

    With a monthly mortgage plus later HELOC payments of ~$1,200/month vs. ~$1,800/month SS retirement income they had a very lean retirement until they died in their mid-70s.

    If they had just told me I would have covered the difference between the 15 and 30 year payment for them…that would have increased their quality of life and left a paid-off home for their heirs (not me) instead of a heavily-mortgaged one.

  11. I have always believed it made sense to have the mortgage paid off when you stop having a paycheck. I retired 4 years ago due to a disability (61) and my wife will turn 65 in Sept 2021. I have calculated what the mortgage + principle was required to have the last payment on that same month my wife turns 65. She will make up her mind whether or not to continue working. At least it will be her choice. I always wondered if the extra principle was smart considering the rate of returns during the bull run. I now have that answer.

    Being near retirement for both of us, as Sam notes, the comfort of not using 401k dollars to pay the mortgage feels very comforting.

    I currently have remained aggressive in my portfolio with the percentage of equities. I did however following the 4th Q 2018 reset my conservative thinking and built up a cash position to cover 3-4 years of expenses. This adds to my comfort as well. I did throughout 2019 feel that I was missing out on some nice returns. In hindsight I made the correct move.

    I also did take advantage of some additions to my portfolio during the mid March crash. I rebalanced my portfolio to remove the weak balance sheet companies and replaced them with higher quality companies. In addition I spent a little of my “cash” to add vs replace. One example was to add some Microsoft.

    I believe my wife and I are at a fortunate financial place and are now comfortable missing out on some gains to preserve our current balances.

    Prior to the Covid 19 virus my fears driving to the accumulation of cash was related to a debt driven recession which honestly I am still worried about.

    If the markets do have another big down turn I have my list of companies to add. I also will continue to sell into some of these rallies again reducing risk to the portfolio.

    Good luck everyone and care for each other.


    1. I haven’t had a mortgage since my twenties. I’ve moved 3 times and every time I moved up to a more expensive house I saved up the money and paid the difference in cash. Everyone tells you you need a mortgage for a tax write off. Well if you are in the 25 % tax bracket you only get to deduct 25% of the interest. I like owning my home free and clear. It feels clean to me.

      1. “Everyone tells you you need a mortgage for a tax write off. ”

        Yeah, that doesn’t make any sense unless you can write 100% off.
        I don’t understand that even educated people are touting this.

    2. I can only echo Sam’s feelings of comfort, courage and security with my own experience. I paid off 7 rental real estate mortgages during the good times (sacrificing several years of the last bull market) in order to be ready for times like now. I have had no mortgage debt since March, 2016 and I sleep very well during the Pandemic. Been able to take advantage of the market swings to build my equities portfolio with a blend of solid growth and dividend paying companies adding to an additional stream of income going forward.

      It is an argument that will rage for the foreseeable future, but I think the wisdom of this choice become irrefutable especially during periods of economic turmoil.

  12. Lillian Shiiba

    Thank you for your insightful columns. I’ve always wondered about what to do whether paying off a mortgage was a good idea or not. I am single, 60 yo, live in SF, and have about $315,000 left on a 2.75% 15 year mortgage (refi 2016). This is not my forever home so I’m not sure what I should do. I’ve thought about moving to Portland, OR (near my sister) or back to Hawaii. I would sell my home and pay cash for a less expensive place (after selling my house). Thing is I would miss my friends who live nearby and families if I do move. SF is great, though expensive to live. I get frustrated in that I pay the highest property tax among my friends despite having the smallest home. Would appreciate your thoughts.

  13. I really find myself going back and forth on this one. I get it, financial security, improved cash flow, peace of mind… but I am also looking at closing 5% down at a 3.3% APR roughly when you include PMI. I feel somewhat confident in being able to beat that over an extended period in the market, even with COVID I am still up more than that YTD and arbitrage is a real and valuable financial win.

    On the flip side I am really starting to wonder how much I need. Still have not got wife nor kids, I live pretty frugally anyway and I get more than enough travel for work… and beyond that right now I keep having money fall out of the sky on three digit bill rates and I know I need to diversify more and real estate is the obvious place and there will be money coming in after retirement just nowhere close to what last year or this year’s tax return is… so also leaning towards just taking this stupid income fiesta and just annihilating some of my mortgage debt.

    I don’t have an answer yet unfortunately but I appreciate everyone posting their thoughts on this topic.

  14. I am curious Do most people manage your rental properties through a realtor or by yourself if you already have a full-time job? I bought two condos as rentals couple years ago, but found it not easy to deal with fixing water leakage, finding new tenants, etc, while working a full-time job and taking care of a kid by myself. Last year it got even worse when my Mom’s Alzheimer’s deteriorated and I had to take care of her. So I sold one condo end of March and felt such a relief not having to worry about next phone call from my tenant. The problem now is How to invest the cash from the sale.

    1. I’ve done so myself since 2003. But my rental properties are all within a 25 minute drive away. My vacation property is managed by a vacation property management company.

      But I tell yah, there is a point where managing can be too much, which is why I sold my largest rental property in 2017. It was a relief since I wanted to focus my time on being a dad. The more passive the investment, the better.

      See: Investment Ideas For Your House Sale Proceeds

      1. I believe the key is to find a good managing company.
        I am a New York Residence, US Citizen, with rental properties in Jakarta (Indonesia) and Tangier (Morocco). Both are managed by reliable local agent ——- Knock on wood, so far so good!


      As much as I’m tempted to pay off my primary residence I wont do it. I only owe a small amount and most of it goes to principal. I do own a Ski/in Ski/out condo that I am paying extra on principal. Plan to retire in the next 6-8 years and would like the condo payed down quit a bit. I have a 10/1 ARM on it so I’m trying to pay it down before it gets to it’s first reset. Hopefully I will be able to use it quite a bit both summer and winter. I started reading FS when I was researching my Ski condo and learned quite a lot from your site. Thanks for all the wisdom and wish you the best.

  15. Hospitalist

    I am one of the few ones who retired with a mortgage, 2 reasons, I can do itemized deduction instead of standard deduction as mortgage interest is still deductible along with $10k of property tax. The other reason is because I think I can do better in the market and take advantage of the low mortgage interest rate.

  16. I love mortgage payoff articles. As an avid reader of FIRE and PF blogs over the last several years, I was struggling with my firm decision to focus on mortgage payoff vs. investing in the stock market. I would read blogs talking about how silly it was to focus today’s dollars on a fixed rate mortgage rather than invest in the market and get an 8% return. While I invested some in the market and maxed out my solo-401K and IRAs, the bulk of our earned cash was going to eliminate the mortgage. It took about 5 years into a 30 year mortgage, but in November 2019, we made the last payment on our mortgage and that gave us 4 residential units that we own free and clear, including the unit we live in (We have two duplexes on neighboring properties). The timing of payoff feels incredible. We face this pandemic with zero debt and rental income still coming in. Though we did reduce and forgive some rent for April and likely in May, we feel great about being able to do that without feeling any pressure financially. Looking back, it was 100% the right decision for us to payoff the mortgage debt and forego the theoretical 8% return in the stock market. We feel that we’ve given ourselves a huge boost of freedom to choose how we move forward. My spouse enrolled in a coding program because he’s always wanted to do that…I am weighing other work opportunities…but anything we decide is because we WANT to do it…not because we’ve got a mortgage hanging over our heads and must do it. This is just how I feel and it worked for us. I fully realize it’s not for everyone. Personal finance is personal and having a mortgage free home and rental units PERSONALly feels fantastic.

  17. Great article. Have paid off primary residences and 3 rental houses. Have zero regret and sleep very well at night. If you regret it, you can always get a HELOC but it never happens.

  18. Canadian Reader

    We never prioritized paying off our primary mortgage while we were in wealth accumulation phase.
    In 2017 we had a big stock market return and decided to take profits and buy another house in cash in Vancouver where we eventually wanted to FIRE. The house was really old so we started a slow cash renovation ASAP- one room at a time. Its almost finished now.
    In July of 2019 my husband lost his job (which we saw coming since 2014) so we sold our primary residence immediately and moved into a condo we have owned for 17 years in our hometown. The condo was paid off a while ago.
    We are planning to move to the Vancouver house in 1 month once renovations are completed. We will still hold our condo because we need it for when we visit family.
    We consider ourselves officially FIRE, and it would not be possible without mortgage free properties.

  19. We paid off our mortgage in February. I had a 15 year mortgage @ 3.75% taken out in 2011 for $135,000 which is what we had left after a refinance.

    We went back and forth on if were doing the right thing. We continued to invest in our Roth and 401k accounts while also building our emergency fund. It is a balancing act.

    Separately, we own 5 acres of land here in MN and we were hoping to eventually build a house on the property that will let us better age in place. For now, we are staying put and will see what this year holds.

    1. The fun thing that I like doing and I think many people would enjoy doing is paying off a mortgage to fulfill a goal (so satisfying) and then having a new goal of building up a cash balance and other investment accounts. It’s like a game. Solve one level, go onto the next level.

      The net worth gains due to the discipline of paying off debt is great. You know that if you pay off the entire principal, your net worth is at least worth the value of your home.

  20. spaceassassin

    I have always felt that tying up all the cash in the house restricted any exit strategy we have. If my wife and I lost our jobs today, we have agreed that we would take the opportunity to move out of the state. With all the money tied up in the house we would carefully have to navigate the move, sale and purchase of a new house. With the funds in the bank (instead of the house), we could walk away tomorrow, purchase a new place, and eat the costs until this house sold.

    The liquidity has always made me feel safer than a paid off home. I spend $300/month on life insurance for myself if I die, I look at the $300 it cost me a month not to pay off the house as life insurance if I live.

    1. That is true. It depends on what percentage of your primary residence is your net worth. If it’s greater than 50% of one’s net worth, then one needs to be careful about their liquidity situation.

      I look at all my properties as individual net worth goals. If I pay one off, it’s one win to bolt onto my net worth to grow it. One by one, all mortgages will be paid off.

  21. Great article. My wife and I are currently laser focused on paying off our mortgage. We’re gonna love the freedom of being debt free soon.

  22. Paid off mortgage 7 years into our 30 yr loan (3.65%) at age 34 & 38. My husband is beyond old school and doesn’t like to invest $ beyond 401k, roth IRA and 529 plans. It has never felt better especially now during the pandemic.

  23. Have $200k in cash. Could either pay our mortgage off (2.875%, 2027 payoff date) or… buy pandemic property! Still employed remotely (software engineer) for the time being, 45 yo with 2 young kids. My inclination is to buy security by paying it off but I know there’s gonna be some amazing deals in the years ahead. Thoughts?

  24. Paid off our mortgage in 2014 at the age of 42. No doubt I could have made more in the market, but having that burden off my back created a foundation from where I could take more risks in my career. That paid off way more than investing in the market would have. My point, consider the larger picture, it’s not just about investment return.

    1. Cool. Yes, having the courage to take more career risk, business risk, and lifestyle risk are definitely the additional benefits of having no mortgage in addition to taking on more career risk.

  25. I like paying down extra principal on my debt when I have extra cash and also especially in bad markets or when there isn’t anything I feel like investing in. I’m not mortgage free yet but I know I will be some day and it makes me happy every time I see the principal go down :)

  26. Ms. Conviviality

    This article reminds me of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. The most important being physiological which includes food and shelter. According to Maslow, once those needs are met, humans can focus on the next level in the hierarchy (safety, love and belonging, esteem, self-actualization). It’s a tough time financially for so many but when things get better, it’s so worth it to pay off a mortgage or purchase an affordable home that can be paid off asap. My husband and I had a conversation about how we felt about the changes in our lives due to the pandemic. My husband became unemployed since he’s a blue-collar worker and I’m now working from home. He isn’t stressed at all because he sees the situation as temporary. It also helps that we own a home mortgage-free since 2014 and have savings. Speaking of needs, I was a little worried about the food/grocery situation when the shelter-in-place order was enacted. While it may seem silly to worry about food shortages, I was relieved when my husband spent his newfound free time to start a vegetable garden. He also cleared a trail so we can continue to keep in shape. Owning our own home allows us to take pride and put more effort in doing improvements to the property since no one can take away what we have created. In addition, I didn’t have to ask a landlord for permission for making semi-permanent installations, like putting up a pole to practice for a pole SPORT competition. This 40-year-old needs something to work on for self-actualization! I might be getting a little too comfortable at home though. I’ve finally got a corner office with two walls of floor to ceiling windows overlooking lush green trees. Hmm, how I can become my own boss and make this my permanent office…

      1. Ms. Conviviality

        If you’re planning to get rid of a whole area of weeds (no other plants in the space), there’s a really simple method for doing it. Look up soil solarization. It’ll save you so much time.

  27. Courage to quit your job = me. Twice. We bought our “forever” home in 2004. I ruthlessly attacked the mortgage until it was gone in 2013. In 2016, I got a new boss who I loathed. I had been with my company for ~15 years and knew I could negotiate a good severance package. I didn’t even think twice about it. I took some time off before finding a new job. If I would have had 18 years left on my mortgage at that point it would have been a whole different thought process. In 2019, I realized my new company was a bad fit for me. I negotiated another separation without looking back. Took even more time off and am now in a position that pays a little less, but I no longer work for an arsehole. And I don’t really need the job if I decide it’s time to hang it up. Not having a mortgage was an important step toward financial freedom for me.

    1. Awesome! How incredible it is to have the courage to walk away from a bad situation and not have to stress too much about needing the money.

      That ability is priceless IMO.

  28. We paid our mortgage off in 2016 after a business sale. I figured at the time the money would perform better in the market so I just considered the house part of my bond portfolio and allocated a bit more of our portfolios to equities then I would have otherwise given my age. For us it turned out to be the best fit from both a risk and psychological perspective.

  29. It is probably worth mentioning that when congress capped the SALT deduction and increased the standard deduction it produced a big incentive to pay down the mortgage.

    Prior to these changes, I was itemizing my deductions. Now that I do not exceed the $24,800 standard deduction; paying off the mortgage is the equivalent of a 3.75% guaranteed return plus the tax deduction I was paying on all the interest.

    The downside is that I worry about having so much of my net worth in my primary residence when I live in a state with a low Homestead Exemption. This risk is offset with a $2M umbrella policy, but its still a little nervewracking.

    1. Totally agree and good reminder about the SALT deduction and the umbrella policy.

      Your goal is to grow your net worth outside of your primary residence to as large as possible.

      Get that primary to as small of your overall net worth as possible.

  30. Good timing. I have 2 mortgages, on a primary home and a vacation home. Both are only about $150K payoff. I’m going to pay one off now, and maybe payoff the other next year. Mostly just for peace of mind.

    1. Cool. Just ensure that you also have enough liquidity as well. Don’t want to pay off 100% of both mortgages and not have at least 6-12 months of living expenses as well.

  31. Great advice, Sam! I can imagine how freeing it must feel to not have any mortgage or rent payment. I am currently a renter in Toronto, Canada since mortgage prices are crazy for even a 600 sq ft condo. I may look into buying in a few more years. Time will tell. But once I do, I would prefer to have a large down payment, and I would want to pay the mortgage off as soon as possible. However, I do think it’s important to continue to invest while you pay off your mortgage. I think the problem is that most people overextend themselves in terms of what they can afford. Then every dime goes to their mortgage which prevents them from investing or being prepared for emergencies. Thanks for sharing.

  32. I agree 100% with the sentiment of the article, but I’m not sure if it make sense to make additional payments as you go, or just save until you can pay off your mortgage in one lump sum. If you’ve tied up a couple extra hundred thousand dollars in home equity but then lose your job, good luck refinancing or recasting your mortgage to access the principal while you’re jobless.

    As an example, I have a few commercial properties. I have a separate bank account for the commercial properties, as I don’t want to use any of the profits until I am ready to leave my day job. Here is a breakdown of how I applied gross rents for the past two years: 57% to mortgage payments (which include property taxes and insurance), 8% to operating expenses; 5% to income taxes (low because the properties generate very little taxable income after accounting for depreciation); and 40% to additional principal paydown. I already had enough in savings in the business account to cover 6 months of mortgage payments across the properties, so I decided to apply all the extra income to principal pay down. For the month of May, I expect to collect around 50% of rent, likely not enough to service debt and operating expenses for May. I have enough in savings to cover the difference for a while, but not forever, and mortgage relief doesn’t help much because it is just a deferral of a future payment. Now I wonder if I should have just saved most of the net rental income after expenses and waited until I could pay a mortgage off with a lump sum.

    1. I struggle with this same issue. Applying funds towards extra principal each month simply ties the money up with the mortgage company without reducing my payment or any guarantee that I’ll be able to refinance my payment down later. If feels like a safer option to put the funds into a “risk free” low % bank account and save until I have enough to pay if off or pay it down to a level I’m comfortable refinancing it too. At least this way I have the money available if I absolutely had to have it.

    2. We have a similar thought process with our accounts and mortgage. Currently we save enough that if/when we can pay it down as one lump sum, we will. Also the extra cash forms our overall safety net. Another way we look at it to is if we come across a good opportunity like a good rental or business investment we have the cash to do so.

    3. I think the strategy is to pay lump sums as you go. That way, you have more flexible to as the wind changes.

      For example, I have $305,000 in cash right now. I’ve been paying off $500 – $1,000 in principal online every other day or so to a rental property mortgage I refinanced last year. It feels great to do so, like a “win for the day” whenever I do.

      But I also want to keep fire power in case a new investment opportunity arrises in stocks or real estate.

  33. We live in a duplex and our tenant pays our mortgage. We just have to cover property tax, insurance, repair, utilities, etc… The mortgage interest is deductible against the rental income. So I’m not in a huge hurry to pay off our mortgage.
    Best of both worlds. ;)

  34. Hi Sam,

    This decision is always a tough one for me. Logically I do think that keeping the 3.6% rate on the primary and investing over the long term wins. Like you mention though no debt is a beautiful thing. You don’t need as big of a nest egg to reach FI, as well as the constant worry that your investments keep doing well over the years.

    Obviously you are in a different phase of life now and we are in a crisis so it makes sense to have people resonate with this one.

    My question to you is this, would you go big on a primary again for someone who is that 30 year old? I have a constant debate about this because it feels safe to stay where we currently are.

    Pre COVID we were pushing our incomes up to about 250K a year. In my 20s I was able to invest about 360k (current value) stocks. Have paid off everything but primary 3.6% 80% LTV. And have a paid off condo as a rental that throws off $550 net of all costs, making our living expense about $1200 a month.

    That has led us to be able to take that extra savings (after tax advantage accounts ~50k a year and toss it into investments). Now we have about 180k in equity across those 2 properties and 40k in cash to make a move on the next rental (original plan).

    My question to you is would you use more leverage in my situation to buy a home where you want to live in a HCOL area? Would you use any money saved to keep buying rentals in a better cash flow market? Or would you pay off debt with it?

    The equation feels different at 30 and my biggest worry is that I don’t take enough risk to be able to afford the lifestyle I desire down the road.


    1. When I bought the $1.52 million house at 28, I had already bought a $580,500 property at 26 with a $420,000 mortgage. So at 28, I actually had closer to $1.6 million in mortgage. That was nuts.

      BUT, I was so bullish on my career. I had just got promoted to VP at 27, which was the youngest in my office and one of the youngest at the firm b/c I had jumped from another shop and was bringing in the business.

      Due to the promotion, I expected to be earning 100% more within three years. But then 2008-2009 happened.

      Since we are kind of going through a 2008-2009 crisis now (i still don’t feel it’s as bad if we open up by June), you can take more risk if you are also BULLISH on your career and won’t get laid off.

      Taking huge risk and then getting laid off soon after = DISASTER.

      It is weird, but with a family of four, I am now living in a home that was close to the price I paid for my home in 2005. Back then, it was only just the two of us. I’m surprised I’m not more greedy… but that’s contentment!

  35. Agree with this concept. We paid off our primary residence mortgage back in 2018 after getting a windfall of cash when one of my “lease to own” tenants bought the house. I considered buying a couple more rentals with the cash but real estate values had risen to the point I couldn’t get two so we decided to pay off our mortgage as it was equivalent to the after taxes/insurance income from two rentals. During this Pandemic, it is easier to sleep at night having no mortgage. Peace of mind…..

  36. This downturn has been a good and slightly stressful learning experience but I am grateful for how things turned out thusfar far, (made the decision to liquidate equities in portfolio on 3/18 for a net portfolio loss of around 12.5%, not the best decision but gave me a slight piece of mind with an uncertain future). My career since 2011 when I got out of college has been in Oil & Gas, while I was expecting an unwanted exit soon, current events sped that exit up dramatically. Since we have mostly lived beneath our means and live in a modest house we aren’t in too terrible of shape, thanks to the good years that we were so fortunate to have. After losing my job on 4/15/2020, we decided to pay off our mortgage with the bulk of of savings on 4/20/2020. Not having that extra cash for a larger cushion and investments going into uncertain times did make us think twice but after taking the plunge I am so happy we did. I am much more relaxed and not as stressed out about finding that next job, especially since it will be an entire career change (I wish I had the insight to start a small business instead!!). The best part about where we choose to live is the rent coming in from our farmland pays our property taxes and home owners insurance. Being a family of 5, entering unemployed status for the first time in my life feels a lot better knowing our housing costs are very close to net zero!

      1. Thanks Sam, I suppose all good things come to an end eventually.

        Since I was a consultant I am thinking of taking advantage of the PPP first, then unemployment later if needed. Hopefully unemployed status will be short lived.

        WTI was unbelievable to watch!

        Have no choice but to feel good! Little nervous but good :) Absolutely will survive!

  37. I love this article, Sam. This debate rages in my head daily and I’ve scoured the internet and bookstores to no end on this topic. My motivation is, do I pay off my rentals first or my principal residence? The simple answer would be my principal residence as this is a more important property (I live in it, there is no tax advantage for mortgage interest and expenses, etc etc). But here’s my situation and why I’ve opted to knock out my rentals first. The interest rate on my 1st payoff rental is 4.85%. I owe 49,999 on this home. My principal residence is 3.65 and we owe 205,000. I currently have enough in cash savings where I could write a check for all 3 rentals plus my home mortgage and have a little left over. This cash buffer makes me feel like I should continue with my current plan. And gives me peace of mind plus I feel like I’m ready if a great deal comes along.

    Each month, the rents collected on my 3 rentals cover the mortgage for all three rentals, my home mortgage and about an additional $300. I then take an additional $1700 or so from regular income and pay $2,000 on rental 1 towards principal (highest interest rate, lowest balance). I will make 2 additional $5,000 principal payments and this mortgage will be satisfied in 20 months.
    Paying off one of my mortgages is going to have major implications to my cash flow and will coincide with the start time of my oldest daughters college start date. As a side note, I am able to max out my simple IRA to the tune of about 15k per year. My wife is a teacher with an incredible pension plan and has accrued a little over 18 years service credit. She will have 30 years at age 57 and I would like to have all of our rentals and primary residence paid off at this age (we are the same age). I would love to hear any insight from you or your readers about paying off rentals versus home. My total rental outstanding mortgages equal 183k, they cash flow roughly 3600 per month. The Mtg rates vary from 3.75 to 4.85. My home balance is again, is 205k. Rate in my home is 3.65. Thanks again. Great article


    1. Sounds like a good plan to me. I like paying off the highest interest debt first. However, I also like paying off the property I feel the most strongly about keeping FOREVER.

      I plan to keep my house I bought in 2014 forever b/c we remodeled it to our liking and we brought our first son home to it.

      I’m unsure about whether to keep our current residence forever since we’ve only been in it for several months. But we did bring our first daughter home to it. So as time goes on, we’ll probably grow to love it, especially as we still need to build out the ground floor unit.

      1. Thanks Sam. I like your thought process and it’s partly why I may not pay off my principal quite yet. Although I’ve got the cash to do so, I’m having the itch to trade up once more, to our forever home. I’d like a large enough home so that my daughters and their families will ultimately feel comfortable and have room to have some living space should they visit over holidays once grown. I also want atleast an acre to have a little space (in a Colorado this is feasible, maybe not so much in San Fran…). I figured if I paid off my rentals, the cash flow would probably cover housing costs and the equity in my current home would enable the wife and I to trade up. We both like our jobs and as of now, they feel safe, relatively speaking.
        I love reading the FS readers input and your responses to their ideas. Specifically, the idea of treating a paid off home as a mental win and the obvious increase to networth.

        I did a four mile walk today, prior to reading your blog this morning, and decided I will pay off rental #1 with the highest interest rate, by January 2021. I feel like I will be able to do so, while maintaining my 400k baseline cash position (liquid in credit union earning 1.75 down from 2% just last month). With current income, both active and passive, I will then pay off rental 2 within a second year, maintaining my baseline cash position (400k)in the event our forever home appears or some amazing rental properties present themselves over the next 2 years.

        By year 3, the goal will be to finish my rental mortgages if the forever home or additional 2 rental properties do not present themselves. Either way, reinvigorated by your post and looking forward to the pandemic property write up you hinted about.

        Leave on this note. Most of us, regardless of our financial position, feel unsettled about the current situation. However, as I mentioned to a friend and mentor of mine recently, everytime I’ve made great gains to my life both personally and professionally, it seems it’s always been a time when fear or unsettling has been the common denominator. I’m going to try to remind myself that my biggest wins have ALWAYS come on the heels crisis. Good luck to everybody and thanks to everyone for their thoughts and ideas!


  38. Pay off your mortgage if you have the money. Then every month immediately start paying the amount of your mortgage payment to yourself. The money quickly adds up.

    1. Mama Bear Finance

      I paid off my mortgage early (within 8 years) and it was the best decision ever. During the bull Market, it may seem silly to pay off a mortgage instead of investing. But now, it feels great to be mortgage-free.

  39. Terry Graham

    Thank you for this freedom-sharing post! We paid off our home in 2010 and have been sleeping peacefully ever since. During 2008-2009 market turmoil we were novice investors and panicked and moved our 401K’s into cash position until 2010. Since then we have been educating ourselves with learning from the FI community and now “have come a long way baby”. So far, during this Covid-19 pandemic and market turmoil we have stayed put in our investments and do not feel any panic as before. What a difference education, knowledge and understanding make. Wishing you and your family health, peace and safety.

  40. Bought our house in 2008 with a 15 year mortgage. However, paid it off in 2018 in 9 years and 11 months.

    Finally this year I paid an extra $3,000 to pay off the rest of the $7,500 interest free loan we received when we purchased the house. Now totally debt free!

    Never regretted paying off the mortgage.

    Never thought of getting a HELOC.

    Bear market much easier with no mortgage.

  41. Excellent article Sam and very insightful as usual! I have been reading your blog for several years and responding first time. Our first home was a modest 2 BR condo in the east coast, which was all we could afford with barely 5% down at the time. We lived there for over 25 years (no children), but retired our mortgage after 15 years at age 49 and 42, and lived mortgage free since 2007. We sold that unit with substantial profit (expensive east coast city), and then bought a larger 4 BR condo with all cash, due to appreciation in the first condo, and the investments in the stock market we were able to do over that 10 year period of being mortgage free, which did happen to coincide with the start of the bull market after the severe downturn in 2008.

    If we had not been mortgage free 10 years ago, we would still be living in that same 2BR unit likely, paying it down now. That aspect of being debt free is hugely freeing, and you could not have summarized it better. Thank you for your continued excellent advice, important more than ever in these incredibly difficult times.

    1. Good to hear Tony and congrats! I’m sure you’re enjoying your nicer property now.

      It feels so great to live in a nicer home AND potentially have it appreciate in value.

      With stocks… no utility. I want maximum lifestyle benefits now.

      1. Agree Sam .. if we are able to have best of both worlds even better. We are nervous like many folks now riding out this pandemic , but even if we we were furloughed or lose our jobs worst case, being mortgage free and continuing to stay invested during this downturn gives us peace of mind we would not gave otherwise

        PS .. we moved four blocks from our old condo to the new one we bought in 2017 so all our comfortable routines are intact

  42. We paid our mortgage off in February, about 20 years early, right before all this mess started. It has been a great relief, to have the lower monthly expenses with everything going on. For us the mortgage represented about 16% of our monthly gross income, so it feels like a raise to keep that income, even though it obviously wasn’t.

  43. I’m still in our first house we bought 40 years ago. The first year we owned it mortgage, insurance and taxes were right at 10% of our income but those were the Jimmy Carter years when inflation ran double digits as did salary increases. In just a few years our housing costs were closer to 5% of our gross income. I think this is great advice, especially from a happiness perspective. Having no debt, whether you are in a low or high cost housing area feels good. Kind of a “one less thing to worry about” feeling. As always this was both informative and fun to read.

  44. Thank you, Sam!

    Interesting. I agree with you, but seem to be swimming against the current– all around me think “it’s no big deal” and that having a mortgage is “normal”, but I think: you wouldn’t pay only the minimum on your credit card balance (if you even carry a balance!!) so why would you only pay the minimum on the mortgage? Especially now that for most it isn’t tax deductible. I get leverage, but honestly, I don’t want to owe anyone, anything. For me, that’s the ultimate definition of freedom, financial and otherwise.

  45. Yeah the more I think about it, peace of mind is worth so much more than the potential opportunity costs of being financially conservative. Some of my neighbors moved in when our community was newly built in the 80s and they are not fazed by the recent events at all. In all likelihood, they carry no mortgage debt, have the financial freedom to withstand market turmoils and job furloughs, and they can take multiple shots to the body without getting knocked down.

    On the other hand, those who bought their homes with little to no money down, banking on the idea of their future income rising, and living nearly paycheck to paycheck, are completely devastated by the impact of COVID-19 since they have no wiggle room.

    Thankfully PPP and the supersized UI will close most of the financial gap between now and when things go back to normal, but imagine the mental stress.

    It really makes you think about our perception of credit, debt, and the downsides of having easy access to large loans.

  46. Great article as usual Sam.
    My mortgage principle and interest payment are only $436. If I carried this payment into my retirement, it would be an 18% increase over my estimated retirement needs. I decided I have two options. I can either pay the mortgage off and earn a guaranteed 4.125% interest, or I can save the money in a taxable account with either a guaranteed 1-1.5% return or fluctuating market return. A disadvantage to saving outside the mortgage is that we won’t qualify for as much college financial aid effectively eliminating returns (my son’s college does not factor in home equity).
    Currently, I am happy we have been pumping money into the mortgage due to the market downturn, but even if the money had been going into the market I wouldn’t have worried about it – the market will recover.
    Our mortgage will be paid off in less than a year, under 9 years from when we acquired it. For me, it has been much easier and less stressful to reduce expenses than increase income.

  47. spaceassassin

    Sitting on the fence with enough funds to pay off the mortgage, but not doing it. We currently have a 2.5% fixed, 15-year and the cash is earning 1.6% in a high-yield savings. We would have to use about 75% of our current cash to pay it off today.

    So when I run the numbers, the net delta is worth the cash in the bank, and psychologically I don’t see a gain when I can write the check today if we needed or wanted to. For us, we are in the sweet spot where psychologically we know it can be paid off, but at the same time, for relatively low cost ($300+/- per month) we can hold onto the cash in case other opportunities present themselves, which feel great too. Without having to worry about trying to pull cash out of the house or sell, we could weather the storm.

    I’m more concerned with paying it off and having so much of our money tied up in the house. Perhaps though if I could decrease the 75% to 50% or some number significantly lower, my thoughts may change.

    1. So long as you feel you are in the sweet spot, that’s all that matters.

      As your net worth grows, you will care less about having all that money tied up in your property bc it becomes a smaller and smaller portion of your net worth.

      Further, you might be HAPPY to have tied up all that money in your property b/c it prevented you from buying stocks right before a stock market crash. You essentially “forget” about the money you have in your property and accept it for what it is.

  48. Not sure how a true all-cash offer to gets you a better deal, but I’m a huge fan of zero mortgage. We paid off a couple of inexpensive starter homes at an early age. Then contracted out the construction of a large one myself at 27 yrs old. It was paid in full by completion. Never had a mortgage since. I’m 53 now. Purchased and sold 8 houses altogether. Always rolled the cash right into the next. I don’t remember cash ever getting me a better deal, but it always made the transaction easier and cheaper. Closing dates are anytime I want. Appraisals aren’t required, and pointless, if you know the market well. Seems like the last closing was around $350 bucks for the attorney, (shop around for best price) plus a few filing fees. That was in 2017. No realtor is almost always my preference. Wish more folks would try it. Saves a lot of headache that way.

    1. Realtors still provide value, but their usual 3% fee or 6% selling fee is insane imo. Everyone has access to the available houses, comps, and can schedule a viewing themselves. The legwork is done mostly by the buyers.

      I know some realtors have relationships with other professionals and they can make the transaction easier by using their relationship to work out a deal – or they may have insight into what houses will hit the market before it’s listed, but is that worth 3%? I don’t think so.

      I really hope the 3% standard gets dropped. In most cases, I have no idea why a realtor who’s facilitating paperwork is due $15,000 for a $500k home.

      1. Yea I agree fees are too high. I used redfin to sell our house in California when we moved to Texas. We wound up paying only a 2.5% commission to the buying agent and a 1 percent commission to the redfin selling agent. So we paid a total of 3.5 percent to sell the house in California which we sold for 805,000. Then we used redfin to purchase our house in Texas and got a 0.5% check back at closing based on the purchase price since redfin kicks you money from their commission when you buy w/ them. I don’t work for redfin so I have no interest in recommending them. But I was impressed by the two redfin agents we worked with and they did every bit as much work as a full service agent.

  49. Totally agree with the paid off home before you retire. We did this last year and with what is happening in the economy, we sleep well at night.

  50. It’s scary how similar our financial strategies are! Although I haven’t had mortgage debt, or any other for that matter since I think 2005. Also I plugged my nose and bought multiple six figures of S&P at 2500. My next tranche was almost in at 2150 but we didn’t quite get there. I’m afraid though we will be testing those lows and further as this economic mess unfolds.

    But sitting in a seven figure paid for property watching a beautiful sunset over the water is really a great place to be in times like this. I’m more worried about the possibility of needing to defend my family than I am about future investment returns.

    1. It’s all about the same. No difference. I hav been buying IVV for years before brokers stopped charging for trading commissions. Before then, IVV was one of the ETFs that were commission-free, so I’ve just stuck to it.

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