Chris writes: Is it better to refinance or go ahead and pay off a mortgage? I owe approximately $11,000 on a 30 year fixed rate loan at 8.5 percent. I am 10 years into this mortgage and plan to stay in the house. I’ve got the cash, but it’ll be just about everything I got.

Chris you don’t know how many people would be delighted to trade places with you. If you pay off your loan, you’ll have effectively earned 8.5 percent on your money because when you prepay a loan, any loan, you earn the interest rate you pay. Since you don’t want to use up all of your free cash, I’d probably pay off $9,000 and keep $2,000 in the bank. With your regular payments, you should be able to pay off your loan in the next three years, because so much more of your monthly payment will pay down principle.