Think twice before prepaying mortgage

Borrowing options can shrink when paying off home loan in full

DEAR BOB: About two years ago, we refinanced our home mortgage and obtained a 5.25 percent fixed-rate mortgage. We loved the low monthly payments. Then, about six months ago, my wife inherited enough money to pay off our mortgage in full, which we did. Next, I received an excellent buy-out offer from my employer to take early retirement, which I did. But now my former employer drastically cut my retirement pension and eliminated health care coverage. As I am only 63 and my wife is 57, we are not yet eligible for Medicare. I took early Social Security, but that doesn't help much. We are rapidly eroding our savings, which were drawn down when we paid off our mortgage early. We "maxed out" our home equity credit line and can barely afford the payments. What can we do? --Richard R. DEAR RICHARD: Your situation shows why I constantly recommend not prepaying a mortgage in full unless you have so much money you will never need to borrow on your home equity. Obviously, that is not your situati...