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Compass F inan ce SAVVY HOMEBUYER CONVENIENT COINS Before you start hitting open houses and picking out furniture, ask yourself a key question: How much house can I afford? When my wife and I moved to Davie from St. Petersburg, we began looking at a few houses where we knew we could afford the mortgage, but as soon as we started adding homeowners insurance and taxes, the bill became less manageable. We gave ourselves a reality check and decided to do the math, and then look for what was available in the market that we could comfortably afford. The answer largely boils down to your monthly income and your financial obligations. As you start your house hunt, remember the 28/36 rule: First, your total housing expenses, including your monthly principal and interest payments as well as homeowner’s insurance, property taxes and association fees should not exceed 28% of your pre-tax household income. Second, your total debt payments, including your mortgage, car loans, credit card debt and other liabilities, should not exceed 36% of your pre-tax income. You can find online calculators to help you estimate how much house you can afford. TEX T BY STACY W YNN ABOUT THE AUTHOR Tim Reyes is a Financial Consultant at Charles Schwab & Co. Inc. (Member SIPC) in Coral Gables. Information presented is for general informational purposes only and is not intended as personalized advice. Brokerage Products: Not FDIC-Insured. No Bank Guarantee. May Lose Value. For more information, contact Tim.Reyes@ Schwab.com or visit Schwab.com. › 50 We all know what money is for: saving, investing and spending on material goods. But money, coins especially, have many other uses as well. PRETTY PENNIES Did you know that adding a copper penny to water in a vase with cut flowers will increase their bloom time? They also double as props for pretty cool behind-the- ear magic tricks. HANDY MONEY Coins make excellent emergency screwdrivers and come in a variety of useful sizes. They can also be used when you don’t have a ruler or tape measure on hand since each U.S. quarter measures exactly 1 inch. LUCKY COINS Coins can help make tough choices simpler with the old-fashioned third party decision of “heads or tails.” You can also collect them as investments, wear them in your shoes or toss then in a fountain for luck.