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It’s not just retirement saving that can be neglected in the years of raising a family and paying a mortgage.

Home maintenance and improvement projects can also be bypassed or delayed if cash is tight. In a recent blog post, I looked at a reader question about what to do when your mortgage is paid off. I went big on redirecting those biweekly or monthly mortgage costs into retirement saving. A reader of that post offered an alternative suggestion: Invest in your home.

His reasoning is sound: As you retire, there’s peace of mind to be found in knowing that you have addressed your home’s outstanding maintenance issues. Examples could include new windows or doors, a new roof and gutters, updated bathrooms and kitchens and replacement of a cracked or crumbling driveway. Using repurposed mortgage money for improvements is also worth a thought. For example, building a backyard deck.

Home ownership is full of surprises, so it would be naive to imagine that fixing a few home components offers a bulletproof ownership experience. But addressing some obvious maintenance issues gives you a degree of cost certainty for a while. It’s a rule of home ownership that maintenance postponed too long can mean much costlier repairs than you anticipated.

Another benefit of redirecting mortgage money into your home is that you’re more or less ready for a sale if you decide to downsize after retirement. There won’t be a need to start chasing down tradespeople to do a bunch of rush-rush fixes ahead of listing your home, and neither will you have to settle for a lower selling price because your home is rough or outdated.

This reader isn’t advocating homes over retirement in redeploying previous mortgage costs. Rather, he suggested a split of money between retirement savings and home upkeep, plus one additional thought. Pay down non-mortgage debt – it’s a backhanded way of improving your financial situation in retirement. Not having to service debts means you need to draw less from your retirement savings.

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