What would you say if someone told you that by purchasing a software program and following the directions you could pay off your 30 year mortgage in 11 years and you wouldn’t have to make any financial sacrifices to make it happen? It almost sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?
Before we sign up, we have some questions to ask: can it be done, is it too good to be true, and how? The answer is yes, maybe, and by using a Money Merge Account, which is also known by the term Mortgage Accelerator Program or similar names. But just because it might work, doesn’t mean it’s the best option for you.
I recently received a reader question about mortgage software accelerator programs:
My husband is trying to convince me to by into a mortgage merge acceleration program using a HELOC. The cost is $3500.00. The program supposedly helps to pay your mortgage off in as little as 11 years (if you follow the prescribed advice) by using your HELOC, putting all the expenses on a credit card and paying them off at the end of the month. It seems too good to be true to me. I’ve never heard of such a thing. What are your thoughts?
Thanks for the question. Let’s take a look at money merge accounts and how they work, then I will give my thoughts at the end.
What is a money merge account and how does it work?
What is a money merge account? A money merge account is an account backed by a software program that helps users accelerate their mortgage payments to eliminate their mortgage more quickly. It requires users to purchase a proprietary software program, open a HELOC, which is basically a second mortgage on your home, and follow the instructions given by the money merge company.
How does it work? The money merge system works by using a revolving credit line in your HELOC to pay your mortgage. The first step is to buy the software program and open the HELOC. You then borrow a large sum of money against your HELOC and apply it to your mortgage, which reduces the principal, and thus the amount of interest you will pay over the course of your mortgage. Let’s say you borrow $10,000 in your HELOC and apply that to your mortgage. You still owe $10,000, but you owe it against your HELOC, not the mortgage. The interest on your HELOC is calculated differently than your mortgage interest, which is one way a money merge account can help people pay down their mortgage more quickly.
Your next step is to deposit each paycheck into your money merge account, which reduces the amount you owe against your HELOC. You then withdraw money from the money merge account for your monthly expenses (which is essentially borrowing more money from your HELOC). When the next month rolls around the balance remaining in your money merge account is used to pay your mortgage payment, and anything above and beyond your normal mortgage payment is used to pay down the principal, reducing the amount of time it takes to repay your mortgage. The process repeats itself and the money merge accounts use “proprietary software” to calculate the best times to make mortgage payments and borrow more money. Essentially it is a revolving line of credit used to shave small percentages off the amount of mortgage interest you are paying. Here is a simplified step by step process:
- Buy mortgage software accelerator program (often several thousand dollars)
- Open a HELOC (a loan secured against your home, often at an adjustable rate, and sometimes through the sponsoring company or its affiliates)
- Borrow against your HELOC to pay mortgage
- Deposit your paychecks into the HELOC
- Pay your bills out of the HELOC
- Remaining funds go toward mortgage and principle
Simplified example: You earn $4,000 each month in salary and you have $1,500 in living expenses and a $1,500 mortgage payment. You deposit your paycheck and spend the $1,500 on living expenses, leaving $2,500 in your money merge account. The remaining $2,500 is used to cover your mortgage payment, with $1,500 going toward your payment and the extra $1,000 going to pay down the principal. How quickly you can repay your mortgage depends on how much extra cash you have at the end of each month.
Wait a minute? Can’t I do that on my own?
What, can you pay down your mortgage more quickly without spending thousands of dollars on software? Absolutely. All you need to do is pay extra on your mortgage payment each month, or send in payments every two weeks. The only difference with the money merge method is that they use the revolving line of credit with the HELOC to reduce (by a small percentage) the amount of mortgage interest you pay each month.
The key to making a money merge account work is to follow their system explicitly – and that means depositing 100% of your income into the money merge account and using all surplus cash to repay your mortgage. To make this work, you have to make your mortgage repayment your number one financial priority – above paying down any other debts, saving for retirement, or other financial goals.
Can I repay my mortgage in 1/3 to 1/2 of the time without changing my lifestyle?
Maybe. How quickly you can repay your mortgage or how much money you can save depends on how much extra money you can divert toward your mortgage each month. If you already have a huge cash surplus each month, then you can do it. If you are already struggling with debt or barely getting by, then a money merge account isn’t for you. It only works if you can put a lot of extra money toward your mortgage each month.
Are money merge accounts a scam?
Money merge accounts are not a scam in the true sense of the word because there is a product that can work – for some people. But they are often called scams because many money merge products are sold by multi-level marketing companies where some people are more concerned about earning a hefty commission than selling products to people who actually need them.
A money merge account might be beneficial for some people, but they need to run the numbers based on their situation and budget, not make a decision by looking at “customer testimonials” or a text book example with perfect numbers. A money merge account only works for people who already have a budget in place and can divert extra money toward their mortgage each month. A money merge account is not a magic bullet to change your lifestyle and bring you wealth or debt freedom.
Pros and cons of money merge accounts
- The only advantage money merge accounts offer is paying off your mortgage more quickly, which is something you can do on your own.
- Cost of software ($3,500 for the reader who asked the question)
- Effectiveness. You won’t know how well it works until you try it for several months (and after you spend several grand on software).
- You need to have a large cash surplus each month for it to be effective.
- You must make your mortgage repayment your financial priority.
Are money merge accounts a good deal?
A money merge account can work, but it is not a good deal for everyone. For it to work, you need to set your mortgage repayment as your number one financial priority and you need to have a steady stream of excess cash each month. Without surplus money, you won’t be paying any extra on the principal and you will repay your mortgage at the same pace you would have without the money merge software, effectively losing out on the cost of the mortgage software accelerator program.
Alternatives to money merge accounts
- Pay extra on your mortgage each month
- Make bi-weekly mortgage payments
My thoughts on money merge accounts: Most people will be better off putting the $3,500 toward their mortgage and making extra payments on their own.
Additional reading about money merge accounts:
Related Post: How We Manage Our Money on a Daily Basis