Caring Currents

Stressed? Try Saving Hundreds a Month on Your Mortgage

Last updated: Feb 06, 2009

hair, nails, gifts and mortgages
Image by woodleywonderworks used under the creative commons attribution license.

If you're like me, sandwiched between raising teens and taking care of ailing family members, your time is desperately limited. And, as we all know, lack of time tends to translate into loss of income. So need I point out that many of us caregivers are trying to live on very, very tight budgets? And of course, the loss of savings, retirement and otherwise, caused by the crash and burn of the nation's economy is hitting us caregivers where it hurts most: in stress levels that are reaching the boiling point.

So, like everyone else these days, I was combing over the family budget trying to find some wiggle room. And, oddly enough,  I found it in the "silver lining" of the mortgage meltdown.

Just look at the numbers: Rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage are at an all-time low of 5 to 5.5 percent, and some experts expect them to drop to as low as 4.75 or 4.5 percent in the next few weeks. For someone currently paying 7 percent on a $300,000 mortgage balance, refinancing at 4.75 percent would translate into a savings of  $430 a month. Now, everyone's talking about how hard it is to get a loan right now, but that's changing as we speak. The government's HUD website has some good information and calculators to help you figure out how much your family might be able to afford.

The days of "undocumented" loans may be behind us, but as long as you have decent credit and can show lenders a pay stub or tax return that demonstrates your ability to pay, you have a good shot at one of these new loans. And if, like many of us who've lived in the same place for awhile, you have some equity that helps a lot, too. (Your parents and other family members might be able to reduce their monthly mortgage payments by refinancing, too.)

A great way to get started is to find a mortgage broker and start getting your application together, so you're all set to take advantage of the lowest possible rates the next time they drop. (They've been fluctuating a lot, like everything else in this economy....)

Think about it:  Is there anything that would lower your stress level as much as saving several hundred dollars a month on your family's monthly bills?