Consumer Reports says the number the bank may give you can be deceiving. Lenders look at how much they think you can pay them each month, but that doesn't mean you can make those payments and still save for retirement, still save for college and still manage to go on a vacation every year.
Deciding how much mortgage you can afford is personal but Consumer Reports' experts say a good rule of thumb is to cap your housing costs at 25 percent of your take-home pay. This should afford you a little wiggle room to keep up with anything that breaks down.
You need to have money in case the A/C breaks or you need to replace the roof. Owning a home is very cost intensive so keeping your mortgage payments as low as possible will help you afford everything else that goes with it.
Having trouble calculating a number you can live with? Consumer Reports says working with a financial planner or a third party you trust could be a good move.
And this is important advice, because according to a recent Bankrate report, 80 percent of current homeowners say their current mortgage payments make it difficult for them to save money and parents in particular have a hard time juggling their competing financial priorities.
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