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I'm looking at medium-term wants/needs to buy my first house and replace both my car and my wife's car -- all this hopefully within the next 7 or 8 years. We are planning on having 1 or 2 kids, probably during our 30s to the extent that you can plan such things. How will all this effect my ability to stay on track for retirement at 50?

With respect to the kids and the decision to buy a home......If there is any chance that one of you will want to be a stay-at-home-parent, be sure to buy a house that you can afford on only the other's salary at the time you buy it. In fact, if possible now, you may want to try living on one income and banking the entire 2nd income.

Ideally, to keep on track for a retirement at 50, you would buy a home that was inexpensive enough so that even with children and a stay-at-home-parent, the working spouse would still bring in enough income to max out any retirement accounts at work, max out IRAs, and still save some in taxable accounts, in addition to paying for all the expenses during the year. The more expensive the house is, the less likely the ideal scenario will occur.

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