Avoid house-rich, cash-poor pickle

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DEAR BENNY: I am 58 years old and married. I have 22 years left on my 30-year mortgage, which is at 5 percent. I have a Roth IRA. I have some extra money to invest. In this current economy, what might you suggest? Should I pay money toward the principal on my mortgage? Put it in the Roth? I lost money in the stock market (bank stocks), so please don't suggest that I go back into stocks. Thanks in advance for any knowledge you might share. --Tommy DEAR TOMMY: Your question is perhaps one of the most difficult ones I have received. I have two crystal balls on my desk and, unfortunately, both are cloudy. I don't recommend paying off your mortgage, but you may want to consider sending in extra money every month. This will dramatically reduce your loan balance and shorten the paydown period. If you decide to send in additional money, please make sure that you write "extra payment toward principal" on your check as well as on the payment statement you send to the bank....