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Q: Our bank is offering a fantastic low mortgage rate for our first home, but we're worried about overextending ourselves. Should we go for it?

When my husband and I were considering our first home, we made certain that if one of us lost our jobs, one salary could cover the mortgage payments. Our foresight came in handy: We both lost our jobs in the same year. Lessons from recessions are invaluable in this situation because a one-income household is not uncommon today. Whatever you do, do not become mortgage poor! We wanted to live in the city, but we moved to the burbs so that we could afford the lower monthly payments there. Another cost-saver could be renting out part of your house to a tenant--just be sure to check municipal bylaws first.

Diana Cawfield is an award-winning financial writer with more than 10 years of experience. Click here to send her your questions.