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      looking at beautiful neighborhoods          If you know that you will want to sell         financial plan you are happy with, so
      with million-dollar homes that you may      in a few years to buy something big-           you’ll be a loyal client. Newlyweds should
      or may not be able to afford, calculate     ger, choosing a high 30-year fixed rate        investigate and interview which firm best
      what’s within your budget. If you’re        is a bad idea. Go with a hybrid                fits their particular needs. Guidance from
      unsure where to begin, try an online        adjustable rate that is slower in the          a professional will take the pressure off
      mortgage calculator or consult a            beginning. Hybrid rates vary; your             when investing.
      financial expert. “You don’t want to pay    mortgage could be fixed for five years
      more than you can afford,” says Meg         and then change depending on the real          Retirement
      Burns of the U.S. Department of             estate market.                                    A common misconception among
      Housing and Urban Development                   Keep in mind that a low credit score       newlyweds is that they think they can
      (HUD). “If you go with an objective         will usually mean a higher interest rate       wait to start a retirement fund. Don’t
      third party, they can help you figure out   or a bigger monthly payment. “Check            put it off – the earlier you start, the
      manageable mortgage payments.”              your score, so that you know what your         more money you will have stashed
                                                  credit looks like and won’t get pulled into    away for your retirement. If you and
      Pre-qualify for a Loan                      getting a higher interest rate,” says Burns.   your spouse already have 401(k) plans,
         Sit down with a mortgage broker or       A lower credit score doesn’t necessar-         combining them could be profitable,
      loan officer and get pre-approved for       ily suggest you have bad credit; low           especially if one spouse’s employer
      a loan. Your credit, income, and assets     credit can denote you haven’t had time         matches higher than the other’s. Max
      will be verified, which puts you in a       to demonstrate positive credit behavior.       out your 401(k) before venturing into
      stronger position to buy and negotiate.                                                    funding a traditional IRA (Individual
                                                  Merging Your Investments                       Retirement Account) or a Roth IRA.
      The Search                                  Mutual Funds                                      A traditional IRA allows tax-free
         Write down your special needs and            Couples who are unsure about               contributions from your salary, which
      decide what type of community you           combining their mutual funds should ask        is taxed upon withdrawal, like a 401(k).
      would like to live in. Do you prefer        themselves: “What is my risk profile?”         The money contributed to a Roth IRA
      urban, suburban, or rural? Is living near   If one person is a risk taker and the other    is not tax-deductible; it’s funded with
      a great school system, park, public         is a conservative investor, mixing funds       money that you’ve already paid taxes
      transportation, beach, or your job a        may not be a good idea. When invest-           on, so there’s no penalty when it’s with-
      necessity? If you’re going through a real   ing, making a plan is crucial. “Talk about     drawn. The major difference between
      estate broker, knowing these specifi-       the different choices you have to invest       a Roth and a traditional IRA is the tax
      cations will expedite the search            in, so that you get a good diversifica-        benefits and income limitations. “As
      process. Look at as many homes as you       tion – you don’t want to invest all of your    long as your annual income is under
      can and take pictures and notes of each     money in the same thing,” suggest              $150,000, you can contribute to a Roth
      location to keep track of all the fea-      Sarensky. Diversify your mutual funds by       IRA and that money will never be
      tures, as well as potential problems.       investing in short-term funds, bonds, and      taxed,” says Sarensky.
                                                  stocks. A financial planner can advise            With a budget in place, future goals
      Mortgages                                   you in what you should invest in and           specified, and investments made; you
         There are two main types of mort-        what percentage of money should go             and your spouse will be on the right
      gage rates: fixed and adjustable. In        into each category. Major financial            track to financial stability and growth.
      order to pick the right type, think about   firms do not charge for consultations.         All it takes is time, patience, and get-
      how long you intend to live in the home.    Their goal is to help you build a              ting an early start.   ■


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