My Husband and I Agreed on This One Rule When Getting a Mortgage

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  • My husband and I purchased a house before we got married.
  • We had a specific rule we agreed on when taking out a mortgage loan.
  • We committed to buying a house that we could afford on only one income. 

Is this a rule that could work for you?

Many years ago, my husband and I bought our first home together even before we were married. 

Since that time, we've purchased several other properties. But from the very first mortgage that we obtained to this day, we've had a simple rule in place when it comes to the home loans we get for buying properties.

Here's what it is, along with our reasons for why we made this rule. 

This is our rule for mortgage loans

The rule that my husband and I both agreed on was that we would only take out a mortgage that we could independently afford on just one income. 

My husband and I have a similar income, so it was simple for us to implement this rule. We simply looked at the amount of money we each earned and figured out how much money we could afford to spend on housing payments if either one of us stopped working.

Since most experts recommend keeping housing payments to 30% of income or less, and since we had other financial goals that we wanted to accomplish, we committed to keeping our loan payment and other costs (such as property taxes and insurance) to no more than 30% of our individual income rather than our combined income. 

This is why we implemented this rule

My husband and I made this rule for a few big reasons. 

First and foremost, we wanted to make sure our property never became unaffordable even if the worst occurred. If one of us had to stop working because of health reasons or because job opportunities dried up, we didn't want to risk losing our house to foreclosure. Since we could each independently afford the house, we had far fewer financial worries since it was much less likely we would both lose our income sources at the same time. 

We also wanted to make sure we had plenty of flexibility when it came to our finances. By keeping our housing costs to 30% of just one of our incomes, we knew we would have many more opportunities to make life decisions that worked for us later on. For example, if one of us decided we wanted to stay at home with our kids or switch to a lower-paying career, we would have that option.

Finally, by keeping our housing costs to such a small percentage of our combined income, we made sure that we had lots of money left over for other goals. We can use one of our incomes to cover the necessities including housing and devote the other person's income to saving for the future or other big financial goals.

This has paid off over time as we've been able to make career decisions based on what's best for the long term, rather than an immediate need for two paychecks. Plus, our housing payments have never caused us financial stress. Of course, not everyone is in a financial position to implement a similar rule. But if you can make it happen, there are many benefits to committing to a similar rule and keeping mortgage costs down.

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