A surprising number of people over at Quora often ask the question “Should I pay off my mortgage early?” and they go on to say that they’ve come into some money and aren’t sure whether they should invest it or use it to pay off their home mortgage.

Mortgage-free houseI’m only one of the thousands of people who help answer questions over there and the other people who answer most commonly give an answer such as this: “If you can earn a return in the stock market that is better than the interest rate on your home mortgage, then you should invest the money and use the proceeds to pay the monthly house payment.” And they leave it at that as if this is nothing more than a math question.┬áBut that really isn’t the case, so I also provide an answer whenever I see these questions, and that answer goes along these lines…

Should I pay off my mortgage or invest my windfall?

This is more than just a math question. A bigger part of the discussion is a consideration of risk.