Just some rrambling thoughts on paying off debt. Each individual situation is different, and each person’s need is different. Not all of the following comments may apply to you specifically.
Personal debt on depreciating or evaporating assets is not good debt. When the debt carries a high interest rate, get rid of it as fast as you can. Examples here are car loans and credit card debt. The car is a depreciating asset, and the things you purchase with credit cards are probably consumed or are short lived (such as groceries, hairdresser visit, vacation, gasoline, etc.). Credit card debt should be the first debt you attack with discretionary cash.
Paying off your home mortgage is dependent upon other factors. Do you already have an emergency fund at least equal to six months of income? If not, fund your emergency fund before paying off your mortgage. Six months reserve is nice, but 12 months is even better.
Do you have any upcoming major expenses – college tuition, child’s wedding, parent’s nursing home, etc.? If so, do you have an account well enough funded to pay these expenses? If not, then fund this major expense account before paying down your mortgage.
Have you invested in your retirement? Do you have a 401K with employer matching? If so, have you contributed the maximum amount that the employer will match? If not, contribute to your 401K before paying down your home mortgage. Same goes for your IRA – contribute the maximum allowed before paying down your home mortgage. Since you are a teacher, are you vested in the retirement plan?
How long will you keep the house? Is this your retirement home? If not, then at some point in the near term you will be selling the house. Paying down the mortgage loan for a house you will likely sell within seven years seems pointless.
Do you have other investment opportunities that will generate income for a return at least as great as your mortgage interest rate? If so, then perhaps investing discretionary cash should be your next priority.
If, after all the above concerns are addressed, you still have discretionary funds available that you can’t invest for a better return, and you will have the house you are in for the next 30 years, THEN pay down your mortgage balance. If you do not itemize deductions on your individual tax return, you might pay down the mortgage balance faster than you would when you can itemize deductions.
If you are nearing retirement, and a mortgage payment will put a crimp in your lifestyle, then aggresively pay down your mortgage balance – especially if the trust is exhausted and you will have insufficient income from other sources to make your mortgage payment. I don’t recommend you pay off your mortgage in a lump sum, but instead, contribute extra principal each month over time.
If you acquire rental property, you can pay down the mortgage loans from excess cash flow. Contribute a little bit extra each month to your highest interest rate mortgage until the loan is paid off. Repeat for the next highest interest rate loan, as often as you need to until you have a large enough cash flow to make you comfortable. Do not take money out of your own pocket to pay off rental property that is generating a positive cash flow. Instead, use the cash flow to pay down your investment debt.