The benchmark interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has dipped as low as 5.17 percent, according to Freddie Mac. If you're getting a significantly higher return in the stock market (very doubtful right now), it might make sense to keep your mortgage going into retirement. But if you're not an investment wizard or don't want to take the risk, start prepaying your mortgage principal as you approach retirement. "You get an absolutely safe return by paying off your mortgage," says Laurence Kotlikoff, a Boston University economics professor and coauthor of Spend 'Til the End: The Revolutionary Guide to Raising Your Living Standard—Today and When You Retire. "If you have a 7 percent mortgage and 3 percent deflation right now, that means that you are paying 10 percent on your mortgage. Every dollar you pay [down on your mortgage principal] now is giving you a 10 percent real return."
More New Year's resolutions for retirement: