When you're shopping for a house, it's tempting to go for the best, but if themonthly mortgage payment is too high, you may not have money left over to putaway for retirement or your children's college education. Crunch some numbersto see what you really can afford before you go house hunting. Add up mortgagepayments, property taxes, homeowner's insurance, and maintenance fees and thenfigure out what percentage of your gross income that number is. The rule of thumbfrom consumer experts is that housing expenses should be no more than 28% ofyour gross income, with total debt payments capped at 36%. Use thesenumbers as guidelines—you may be able to handle more or less debt, depending onyour financial circumstances.