No. of Recommendations: 3

You wrote, The thought of re-setting the time clock back to ZERO . . . is not very appealing. However, if I can re-fi with a 15 year and still pay pretty much what I am paying on mortgage number 1, then that would be a good deal. But, I don't know if I can do that and I guess the only way to find out is to get off my butt and go start talking to some credit unions.

First, this "time clock" is arbitrary. A 30 year mortgage gets paid off in 30 years because that what the minimum payment results in. You don't have make minimum payments. (Though be careful about the terms of any mortgage with a prepayment penalty.) Also some lenders have 20 year fixed rate products. You'd have to ask.

You write about talking to a credit union. That might be a place to start; but personally I'd talk to an independent mortgage broker. A credit union is one lender. A broker deals with lots of lenders and not all lenders have the same requirements.

With that said, I'd still assume the broker will turn you away. Lending standards have been fairly tight since the mortgage crisis and even if you have good credit, your debt to income ratio will make you unappealing to many lenders.

Also, get advice without actually filing an application. If you submit an application, you'll incur costs and they'll do a hard inquiry on your credit report. You don't want to go there until you're pretty sure you can actually get a loan at a better rate than what you currently have.

BTW, other people are focusing on you lowering current expenses. I agree with that. But your mortgage payment is one of those expenses and keeping it low is a good idea too. However, you still have to work the other issues, so don't let yourself get too distracted by the idea of a refi. And certainly don't go in thinking a refi is going to fix your other problems. A refi will only address one problem - and it's probably not your biggest one.

- Joel
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