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Managing Mortgage Debt in Retirement

Having a house payment in retirement wasn't the plan. Chip away at your mortgage with these tips

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Roughly 30 percent of homeowners in the U.S. own their homes outright, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. And many of those property owners will tell you that there's tremendous peace of mind that comes with being mortgage-free.

See also: Mortgage Payoff Calculator

But if you're among the 70 percent still whittling away at your home loan, take heart in knowing that having mortgage debt — even in retirement — doesn't have to doom you financially.

I know you didn't likely plan to have lingering mortgage debt as you approach or continue to navigate through retirement. But sometimes, even the best-laid plans can go awry.

So if your mortgage isn't going to be eliminated anytime soon, the challenge for you is to figure out how to most effectively manage that debt, and how to be able to afford all the other bills you have to pay too.

Here are five ideas to do just that:

1. Keep Contributing to Your 401(k) Plan

While a mortgage can take a major bite out of your fixed monthly budget, so can other obligations, such as medical expenses. That's just one reason that even those planning to work until their 70s may not have enough money to safely retire, according to a new study from the Employee Benefits Research Institute.

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— Photo by: Yasuhide Fumoto/Getty Images

EBRI's report is called "The Impact of Deferring Retirement Age on Retirement Income Adequacy." This study revealed that if Baby Boomers delay their retirement past the age of 65, many of them will still lack sufficient income to cover their basic retirement expenses and uninsured health care costs.

"Our research finds that many people may have to delay retirement far beyond age 65 to increase the probability that they have enough money to cover their retirement expenses at a comfortable level," says Jack VanDerhei, EBRI's research director.

However, VanDerhei said that EBRI found that what really makes a positive difference is if people who continue to work after 65 also continue to contribute to a defined contribution retirement plan, such as a 401(k) or a similar plan.

What does all of this have to do with your mortgage?

Next: A bump up in salary could help. >>

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