That's why I found this article at Liz Strauss' blog quite interesting - Two myths that get in our way. His advice re-inforces exactly the path that I have decided to follow. I took out a HELOC and bought some real estate and have continued that strategy to pyramid my net worth during the past year. My goal is to accumulate over $1M in net worth in real estate before I retire from my engineering job. I also am on a path to have nearly $1M in my 401k if I work until I am 66, so the prospect of 20 more years of mortgage payments after retirement doesn't seem as daunting.
I love this quote:
"Would you rather retire with $12,000 a month income and a $2,500 house payment? – OR $3,000 a month income with a free and clear home?
The answer to that question is the path you’ll be on for the rest of your life. "