Just a few years ago, anyone looking for safe fixed-income yields in retirement likely thought things were improving. After years of near-zero interest rates dating back to the Great Recession, the Fed began to increase interest rates starting in 2015, and retirees were able to find certificates of deposit yielding 3%.

Fast forward to now: The Federal Reserve has pushed short-term rates to zero as it attempts to mitigate the severity of the pandemic-induced recession. Available rates on CDs and high-quality bond funds remain exceptionally low.

Where can retirees go for a decent return? Maybe it’s time to dust off that file folder labeled “mortgage.”

If you’re carrying a home mortgage in the 3% or 4% range, accelerating your payments or retiring the loan entirely may offer a better return than letting cash sit around earning next to nothing–and the numbers can be even more attractive for paying down higher-rate debt on credit cards or student loans.

This Morningstar column has been attracting alot of comment. (subscription required)