Should I pay down my mortgage or invest?

It's always a good idea to regularly check in on your financial position, whether there's been a significant change in your financial situation or not. And for those who find themselves with spare funds, it often raises the question, "Should I pay down my home loan or invest these funds elsewhere?".

For most, there is nothing like the comfort of reducing their mortgage. Knowing they are building ever more equity in their own home and moving just that little bit closer to owning their own home outright.

More, there is no risk associated with repaying your home loan in the way there is risk attached to investing funds beyond your home and somehow, it just seems that much easier to commit to paying more off your home loan, than strictly setting aside an amount each month to invest.

In addition, there is a significant tax benefit. The money you save by reducing your mortgage, and lowering your overall interest rate bill, is not taxed, while any earnings or capital gains received from investments will be most likely be taxed at your marginal tax rate.

Against that, while interest rates are at relatively low levels, there is a good argument that if you can generate returns from investments in excess of this rate, then the smart money is on making investments beyond your home. Especially if you contribute these extra savings to your superannuation fund and then invest the funds within superannuation. This is because the associated tax rate for assets held within super is a benign 15 per cent, which for most people is below their marginal tax rate.

In addition, you might be able to reduce the tax you are paying on your weekly earnings. Again, depending on your situation, you can contribute up to $27,500 a year to super and potentially claim a tax deduction for these contributions or up to $110,000 a year using after tax income or savings.

Investing funds outside of your home also means you are diversifying your asset pool. Rather than having all your funds tied up in one property, you can choose to invest any additional funds in a range of opportunities such as fixed interest investments, commercial property, domestic shares or international shares.

But just how do the numbers stack up? Just what sort of returns can you get from investments compared to repaying your own home loan?

Let’s assume you take out a $500,000 home loan over 30 years at say 3.5 per cent.

The Government’s Moneysmart online mortgage calculator suggests monthly repayments would be $2,245 and the total interest charged would be $308,280.

If you repaid an extra $500 a month to reduce this loan, you would reduce the term to 21 years and nine months and the total interest bill would be just $214,168 – saving you some $94,112 in interest payments.

Alternatively, if you invested $500 a month in an investment generating 7.5% per cent, at the end of 30 years, the Government’s Moneysmart compound interest calculator suggests this investment would be worth $678,433. That’s $584,321 more than the interest you’ve saved.

The numbers suggest overwhelmingly that you are better off investing outside your own home if you are confident that you can commit to this investment strategy, and if you are assured, you can obtain at least 7.5 per cent after tax year after year for 30 years.

For most people though, the best strategy is a mix of repaying your home loan early, contributing extra funds to super and, building up an investment portfolio. A Financial Planner is the best person to help you decide just what the best mix is for you.




MoneySmart, Mortgage Calculator (accessed 29/12/2022)

MoneySmart, Compound Interest Calculator (accessed 29/12/2022)

McConachie Stedman Financial Planning is an Authorised Representative of Wealth Management Matters Pty Ltd ABN 34 612 767 807 | AFSL 491619