What are bi-weekly payments and why do people choose them?
Bi-weekly payments are half mortgage payments made every two weeks. They are a subtle way of paying down principal without paying large lump sums of money at a time. For most people, paying half a mortgage payment every two weeks doesn’t feel any different than making one payment each month, especially those people who are also paid bi-weekly.
Here’s why they are not the same:
There are 52 weeks in a year, so paying every 2 weeks is 26 half payments. 26 half payments are equal to 13 full payments annually instead of 12 monthly payments.
How much of a difference do bi-weekly payments actually make?
Quite a bit. Let’s take an example of a 30 year fixed mortgage for $150,000 at 6%. Paid off as agreed, a homeowner would make 360 payments of about $900 a month. The total of those payments over the life of the loan is about $324,000. The same loan with bi-weekly payments would be $450 every two weeks. This would be 638 half payments (26 per year) and the loan would pay off in about 24.5 years. The total amount paid over the life of the loan with bi-weekly payments is about $287,000. In this example, the interest savings over the life of the loan would be $37,000 and it was paid off 5.5 years early.
Here’s a chart showing the principal balance for this example in 1 year increments:
**Important note: This is a simple example for a homeowner who does not escrow their taxes and insurance. Bi-weekly payments with escrows actually pay off even faster because you are making 13 escrow payments as well and the overage goes to principal.
Are there any drawbacks?
The short answer –
How do I set up bi-weekly payments?
Bi-weekly payments are offered by most lenders and banks. You may be able to set up a bi-weekly payment system with your current bank without having to refinance. One word of caution, make sure you can afford bi-weekly payments and that you realize you are paying extra each year. Many people are paid every two weeks, so if you can afford it, it’s an easy way to cut down the interest you pay over the life of your mortgage without changing your budget drastically.
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