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  • Writer's pictureCharlsie Pecoraro

Countdown to Christmas! Things to do on the Gulf Coast! Should You Pay Off Your Mortgage?

It seems like Thanksgiving was yesterday to me. How about you? This holiday season is flying by at a record pace. In just two weeks many of you will be gathered around the table celebrating with family and friends. My hope is that you have a wonderful Christmas with your loved ones.

There are many things that you can do this weekend to get into the holiday spirit. I'll list some ideas below to get you started! I do want to mention that one of my fellow travelers put a huge smile on my face in Baldwin County. On the back of their van was an "elf" rear windshield wiper cover. There is nothing quite like having Will Farrell in his elf costume waving back at you whilst driving! A quick search found it available online if you want to make others laugh!

Things to Do This Weekend on the Gulf Coast!

  • Trim a Tree hosted by the Foley Art Center is a wonderful place to visit if you are at the Tanger Center in Foley, Alabama. It is decked out with all sorts of gifts, handcrafted by local artists. They will be open now until December 23rd, 10AM - 7PM. Stop by and browse, you won't leave empty handed!

  • Bellingrath Gardens' Magic Christmas in Lights is celebrating its 26th year in delighting visitors, young and old. Click on the highlighted link for times, tickets and details! This one is definitely worth visiting!

  • Gulf Coast Harbor Lights in Biloxi is open until New Year's Eve. Click here for the details.

  • New Orleans has so many options for visitors to enjoy. Why not plan a day trip to the city and visit The Roosevelt Hotel, The Hotel Monteleone or Celebration in the Oaks to boost your holiday mood?

Just up the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge there are Local Pop Up Markets at The Electric Depot on Government Street every Saturday until Christmas. They are open from 10AM-2PM featuring a collection of local artists. If you happen to be on Government Street, stop in Circa 1857 for some wonderful gifts, antiques and home decor.

Shopping local is easy in New Orleans, Ocean Springs, Mobile, Baton Rouge and Fairhope. All of these places are populated with family owned businesses poised to show you what customer service really means! Unique gifts can be the most memorable, so check out locals.


New This Week on our YouTube Channel!

Certified Public Accountant, Author, Entrepreneur and family man, Richard Lindsey shares some last minute tips to get ready for the upcoming tax season. Click here or on the image to watch the latest installment on our YouTube Channel! Richard shares his transition story from family owned business to his career as a CPA.

Check out Amy Rainwaters, Certified Health & Wellness Coach who has some simple steps to help you get started on a healthy lifestyle.

This popular video will give you some practical ideas to meet 2022 head-on! Click here to watch! Give Amy a call to schedule a consult at 513-225-8206. She will be happy to help you reach your goals!

WooHoo! Exciting times this week with my book launch rolling out in time for gift giving! Thank you to everyone who has placed an order! Your signed copies will be in the mail this weekend! Go check out the video to learn more about this personal development book, Your Journey Your Way. Order at

Coming soon to the channel...

  • How to make a New Orleans style Muffaletta!

  • Jack on the Street - tips for traveling with your doggie!

  • Insurance Tips with Lisa Harkey of AlaCoast Insurance Agency

  • How to be a Mary Kay Consultant with Ashley Duncan!

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Should You Pay Off Your Mortgage Early?

Nathan Morris said: “Every time you borrow money, you’re robbing your future self.”

Thirty years? That’s how long many mortgage loans run. And paying off a long mortgage can make you feel like you’ll never be out of debt, which makes an early payoff so attractive.

There are a heap of tricks and tips to paying a mortgage off early. But figuring out if an accelerated payoff is good for you boils down to three little words:

Do. The. Math.

The easy way

The length of time on your mortgage – say, 15 or 30 years – is how long you’ve been given to pay it off, probably by a little bit every month. Except, you’re not just paying off what you borrowed (the principal), you’re also paying off the interest.

The longer you’re repaying your mortgage, the more interest you pay. And interest compounds on itself tick, tick, tick with the interest, month after month, reaching right into your wallet.

Assuming you got a normal interest rate on a mortgage that runs for a normal amount of time (say about 3%-4% on a 15- or 30-year mortgage), shaving even a few years off your repayment can eventually save you tens of thousands of dollars.

Let’s look at some of the most popular ways to accelerate repayment.

Just send more: No tricky math here. Get a bonus at work? A stimulus check? A tax refund? Enough money to notice but not enough to change your life? Before that cash disappears for one fool reason or another, sock away a month’s mortgage payment. At the end of the year, send it along with your regular monthly payment. (Make sure your mortgage doesn’t have a sneaky prepayment penalty.)

By doing that year after year, you can lop months or even years off repaying your mortgage. And remember what we said about interest… tick, tick, tick…

Pay half your mortgage twice a month: Huh? How does that help? By the end of the year, doesn’t it add up to the same amount of money to the mortgage company?

No. Would you believe that it works out to one whole extra monthly payment by the end of the year (but only if you stick to doing it every two weeks)? Not every lender takes biweekly payments, though, so check.

Send a little more every month: This one’s pretty simple, too. Just send more money but make sure it goes to paying down the principal (which in turn will lighten your interest burden - the real villain). Again, first, make sure that your lender will take extra payments and that they’ll apply your payment to the principal.

A little more complicated

Refinancing: Bet everybody including your neighbor has talked about this one. And it’s true – refinance right and you can lower the interest rate and pocket big-time savings. You can also shorten the length of your mortgage, but your monthly payment might shoot way up.

Still got your pencil? Then two things: Refinancing tends to work best when you have a higher-than-average interest rate. And the process ain’t free. Usually refinancing fees run into the mid-five figures.

Don’t just listen to your neighbors. Find some free estimates and see if refinancing is worth it for you. And usually, a cheaper option is.

Recasting: This is cool if you get a big lump sum of cash. (Happens every day, right?) But if you get a windfall, you can push a big amount toward your mortgage principal, and some – not all – lenders will “recast” your mortgage to lower your monthly payment.

Warning -- Recasting into a longer-term may cost you more in interest in the long run. Pencil, do your stuff…

A good move?

Now that you know the “how,” do you even want to pay off your mortgage faster?

Don’t you automatically feel freer not being under that big debt anymore? What about all those “mortgage-burning” parties you hear about?

Peace of mind and flaming shindigs aside, the most return you’re going to see by getting rid of your mortgage will be what you save on interest (so, more or less whatever your interest rate is). You’re also going to lose your mortgage interest tax deduction.

More importantly, think about what else you could do with that cash...

  • Max out your retirement accounts (a recommended step before you even think about paying off your mortgage faster).

  • Invest in a stock market that for decades now has seen way better returns than your mortgage interest rate.

  • Build your emergency fund of several weeks’ expenses. A lot can go wrong in your financial life these days – and talk about peace of mind.

This decision may not be as straightforward as you think. Do the math.

Richard Lindsey, CPA - contributor


May you have a wonderful week! ~ Charlsie


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