If you want to get out from under an adjustable-rate mortgage -- and you aren't upside-down on the loan -- now is a good time to switch to a fixed-rate mortgage. Use an online mortgage calculator to figure how much you'll save with the new rate.
While you're at it, look into refinancing your 30-year mortgage into a 15-year loan so you don't inadvertently add many years of interest payments to your mortgage.
For example, a $225,000 house purchased five years ago with a 30-year loan or mortgage rate of 7 percent has a monthly payment of around $1,500 a month with about $90,000 worth of interest and principal paid in those five years. If you refinance the balance of that loan now at the current 3.2 percent interest for 15 years, you'll save over the life of the loan, plus you'll pay off the home almost 10 years sooner. And your payments will go down significantly.
"Focusing only on monthly payments is penny-wise and pound-foolish in the long run," says Stratton. "Owning a home outright and having no monthly mortgage payment goes a long way. ... In 15 years, when the house is paid off, it can literally make the difference between being able to retire or not."