Buy less house than you can afford
Buy less house than you can afford
You may dream of a media room, his-and-hers walk-in closets, and a chef-worthy kitchen. But in 30 years, would you rather have another $1 million in the bank or another 1,000 square feet to clean?

Stick with a 2,000-square-foot house instead of a 3,000-square-foot McMansion, and invest the savings you reap from a lower down payment, smaller mortgage, and more modest upkeep.

Granted, you're likely to buy and sell a few homes in three decades, but the tactic should remain the same. Buying one house below the max you can swing will keep paying off, especially if home prices lag stock returns, the historical norm.

By Amanda Gengler @Money - Last updated April 05 2012: 6:25 AM ET
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