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Is combining mortgages a smart move?

Dear Dave,

My son has a $115,000 mortgage at 5.8 percent. He also has a home equity line of credit of $40,000 at 9 percent. Currently, he can get a 30-year loan at 3.5 percent, or a 15-year note at 2.75 percent. His take-home pay is between $70,000 and $80,000 a year, and these are his only debts. Should he combine the mortgages into one loan?

—Daniel

Dear Daniel,First, I only recommend mortgages of 15 years or less. Now we’re looking at a 2.75 percent loan versus a 5.8 percent loan versus a 9 percent loan.

I advise people to put home equity loans under Baby Step 2 of my plan, which is pay off all debt except for the house, provided that the loan is less than half of your annual income. Based on the income figures you gave, this situation is kind of on the bubble.

If I were in your son’s shoes, I’d probably combine the two loans and refinance. I’d go for a new $155,000 fixed-rate mortgage at 2.75 percent, with no balloons and no calls. This kid can live a good life and get the mortgage paid off pretty quickly with the kind of money he’s making.

But if it’s me, I’m getting as short a term as possible on a refinance—maybe even a 10-year note instead of 15 years. Just imagine him getting all this knocked out and still having the majority of his life ahead of him. That’s financial peace!

—Dave

Dear Dave,My husband and I are debt-free. Recently I learned that I have a blended fund for retirement. Do you think I should switch to self-chosen funds? I have $26,000 invested at the moment.

—Marina

Dear Marina,

My advice is to move your money into self-chosen funds. The problem with blended funds is not that they are blended, but that they’ll move it around based on your age and where they perceive you to be in life.

You won’t even realize it’s happening. I want you to be a lot more intentional with your money and know what’s happening every step of the way.

With self-chosen funds you can look at them and say, “Those are my funds.”

Then, if down the road you decide one isn’t doing as well as you like, you can move the money to a different fund.

With blended funds it’s almost like having a babysitter for your money. You’re not the one watching the kids, and to me that’s a big mistake.

There shouldn’t be a lot of fees inside your 401(k) when it comes to trading funds.

There’s a good chance there won’t be any fees at all, especially if you stay within the same company. Check into it, Marina, and talk to your human resources people. They can give you all the details.

—Dave

Dave Ramsey is America’s trusted voice on money and business. He’s authored four New York Times best-selling books. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 6 million listeners each week on more than 500 radio stations. Follow Dave on Twitter at @DaveRamsey and on the web at daveramsey.com.

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Published June 22, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated June 21, 2013 at 12:25 pm)

Is combining mortgages a smart move?

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