Personal finance guru and radio talk show host Dave Ramsey uses a series of seven steps -- what he calls the "baby steps" -- to help people take control of their financial lives.
Ramsey's baby steps provide a common-sense approach that works for many people, but they makes trade-offs that favor motivation over financial efficiency. In particular, baby step No. 6, "Pay Off Your House Early," pits the motivation of having no debt against the financial reality that you can likely invest at a higher rate of return than the cost of your mortgage.
In the slideshow below, the benefits of paying off a mortgage early are compared to the historical returns seen from three different market-tracking index ETFs to show how that difference can add up to tens of thousands of dollars. The market-tracking ETFs are:
- Vanguard's Total Stock Market (NYSEMKT:VTI), which attempts to track the broad U.S. stock market;
- The SPDR S&P 500 (NYSEMKT:SPY), which attempts to track the S&P 500; and
- iShares MSCI EAFE (NYSEMKT:EFA), which offers broad exposure to developed-market economies outside of North America.
How to get even more income during retirement
The biggest financial goal most people have is to get themselves successfully to and through retirement. Social Security plays a key role in your financial security, but it's not the only way to boost your retirement income. In our brand-new free report, our retirement experts give their insight on a simple strategy to take advantage of a little-known IRS rule that can help ensure a more comfortable retirement for you and your family. Click here to get your copy today.
Chuck Saletta has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.