Paying off your mortgage may not be best use for your money Not having a mortgage can be satisfying but it may not be smart. Financial planners recommend you consider doing other things before you pay off your mortgage. * Pay off credit card balances. Paying credit card debt gives you an instant return equal to the interest rate on your card. Financial planners say a mortgage is a good debt and should be one of the last ones to be paid off. * Put extra money into your retirement account instead. The last 10 years of working and saving give you a chance to stash more money in a tax-advantaged retirement account. If you are over 50, you can put $23,000 in a 401(k) and $6,500 in an IRA or Roth IRA during 2013. * Bulk up your emergency savings account. Unless you have six months of living expenses, you could end up draining retirement accounts. If you do that, you could be house rich and cash poor in retirement. * Weigh the return versus the risk. At Kiplinger's Personal Finance, experts say if you're paying 4 percent interest on your mortgage and your nonretirement cash accounts are earning 1 percent, go ahead and pay off the mortgage. * Have a flexible future. To pay off your home faster, consider paying extra on the principle of your current mortgage. You could save a great deal of interest. And if your finances hit a rough patch, you can revert to the lower payment. If you're paid ahead on some mortgages held by credit unions and banks, you might not have to pay anything at all for a time.