Rule #1: If you're buying a house, never let a mortgage lender tell you what you can afford.
A lender makes more money when you borrow more money. And most lenders don't really know everything about your finances; they just look at your income and do a quick calculation to tell you what they think you can afford. They don't know anything about how much you're saving for retirement or whether you want to help your kids financially with college.
You need to decide what you can afford to buy for yourself, based on your long-term goals. Always remember: The smaller your mortgage, the more money you'll have for other financial goals.
Declutter your life! Our March issue features a complete guide to streamlining your life, from Peter Walsh's 30-Day Organization Challenge to innovative ways to clear your mind. Plus, go behind the scenes of Oprah's yard sale and find out how you can improve the world with a simple "hello."