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The 28 part of the rule is that you shouldn’t spend more than 28% of your pre-tax monthly income on home-related expenses. The 36 part is that you shouldn’t spend more than 36% of your income on monthly debt payments, including your mortgage, credit cards, and other loans such as auto and student loans.

It’s a good rule of thumb to start with, but it’s also important to consider your entire financial picture when evaluating home-related expenses.