Recently discovered this site and love it! I am equally inspired, amazed, challenged and humored by the information found herein. Like just about everyone, I've experienced the roller coaster of personal finace, including many highs and the proverbial lows. Some of the lows were a result of my own poor judgement, others beyond my control (corporate downsizing, national economy, etc.). The good news is the key still fits in the front door of the house and the 30 year mortgage should be paid off inside of 12 months, roughly 21 years after signing on the dotted line! After becoming a casualty of the banking merger/acquisition "wars" about eight years ago, at about 50% of my previous earnings, I managed to pay off thousands of dollars in credit card debt and my only remaining debt is the car loan, appx 12 months of mortgage payments and about $400 on a revolving credit account. The difficult part is in this market (Houston) of very affordable housing, combined with the prevailing mortgage rates at 30 year lows, this is probably the best time to "move up" into a better neighborhood, with greater upside potential for home value(s). Its hard to know what to do -- stay put and invest the freed up funds once the mortgage is paid off, or move up and possibly achieve greater value appreciation in a better neighborhood. As a real estate appraiser with 20+ years of experience, I like to think I have a little bit of knowledge in that arena. Would also really like a pool to survive the brutal summers here, but would prefer to purchase a home that already has one rather than pay to have one put in, and not (fully) recoup the costs. But as they say, there is wisdom with much counsel. Any advice or insight would be greatly appreciated! Keep up the great blogging!