So the "hard part" of getting through the closing on your new home is done. You can breathe easy, right? Except now you have a 30 year mortgage at 4% interest with your first payment just around the corner. It can feel like a daunting task! There are a few things you can do to pay it off much sooner. First things first: Are you in a good place financially to do something extra toward your mortgage? Are you putting money towards your retirement, kids' college funds and the emergency fund? If you are and still can put extra on your mortgage, then you are in good shape to pay it off faster!
Do Your Own Amortization Schedule - You can decide when you want your loan paid off and what type of payments it will take for you to get there without spending extra money to re-finance your home. This will take discipline and structure on your part and sticking to the "new" payment you make yourself. But, it can be done if you have the extra cash do make those bigger payments each month. You specify that the extra all goes to the principal. I would not recommend doing this through the bank, because if you miss an extra big payment, there will be fees. This way, if you can't pay extra on your home one month because of some financial emergency, there will be no penalties and you can resume the larger payments whenever you want.
Add Some to Each Monthly Payment - If a strict regimen of higher monthly payments is a little too much to do, just adding SOMETHING to each payment a month will help knock down your mortgage faster. Make sure you put it on the principal so the interest doesn't suck it up. Just $100 a month extra can shave nearly 5 years off your loan and save you thousands.
Pay an Extra Payment Every Year - You can do this at the end of the year, or if you get a lump some of money at some point every year. Just like the other, be sure to make sure it applies to the principal and this will also knock off a few years from your loan.
Re-finance When You Can - This is another way to pay down a mortgage faster. First, if the interest rate goes down and you will save more money in a year than what it costs to refinance, this may be a great way not only to save money, but, to pay off your mortgage faster. Usually, banks will give you a better interest rate for a shorter term loan. If you had an FHA loan and didn't qualify for a conventional loan, when you can qualify for a conventional loan, it may save you money in the long run to refinance as well because you are usually paying a higher premium mortgage insurance with an FHA loan. But do remember: It will cost to refinance and you don't want to step "backwards" in some respects. Do the math and see what spending to refinance will save you.
These are just a few ways you can pay down your mortgage faster. I am sure if you have a desire to get this "monkey off your back" sooner, there are a lot of other ways you can throw some cash at the debt; and you will be glad you did.