Testimony from Joy
In the summer of 2009, we bought a sturdy, 50-year-old house with a very needy kitchen. We had been renting for five years and saving for a nice down payment. Because of the imminent kitchen remodel, we kept back some of our savings for that project and paid just 20% down.
We made larger mortgage payments from the start but were also tucking a little more away for the kitchen project. And that plan was growing as we got different opinions and considered what would be the ideal remodel.
After ten months of consideration, we decided we weren’t ready to start a never-ending kitchen-remodeling-and-expanding-into-the-garage-etc. project. With that plan, we would have proceeded with a new phase only when we had the money in hand, so the total time and money required was overwhelming.
During our hesitation, we found an online mortgage calculator that allowed us to play around with numbers. We were already on track to pay off our mortgage 13 years early, but we realized that if we put our remodeling savings toward the mortgage, both with an initial lump sum and in increased monthly payments, we could pay off the mortgage in five more years—saving in interest close to the full amount of the principal!
Seeing those numbers, we were eager to delay a big kitchen/garage remodel eight or so years until able to do the full project all at once and with cash. So last summer we painted the walls and homemade cabinets and replaced the original, cracked counter top and the stained flooring, making my kitchen a happy place to be–all for under $1,000!
Two Recommended Number-Crunching Websites
Now I know people have purchased homes in different housing markets—regarding both location and economic times. The when and where of our home purchase helped to keep our total costs low. However, the decision to pay more toward the loan’s principal each month can save any home owner money.
I knew that truth theoretically, but until we were using a mortgage calculator, I didn’t dream the savings would be so great or the acceleration could be so fast. Anyone with a mortgage could benefit from number-crunching on a website like the ones we used.
DecisionAide.com — This link is the site we found most useful and flexible (though it doesn’t include specific dates, just numbered months). This site also has a full menu of other calculators that could “lend” some help in other financial considerations (including renting vs. buying and large vs. small down payments).
Mortgage-X.com: If someone wants to have the help of viewing specific dates and doesn’t have that much variety in extra payments, this calculator was the first, more basic one we used.
Joy employs her English degrees in numerous ways in the homemaking realm—but not by blogging! Her husband of almost 7 years, Joseph, serves as the assistant pastor for youth and music at their Midwestern church. Their three girls (4½, 3, and 16 months) and a new baby boy.