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I Moved Back in with my Dad – and Paid Off $30,000 in Student Loans

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Sheila Rodriguez is 29 and lives with her father — a fact that has been awkward at times. “It’s so embarrassing to be at family functions, and your cousins have houses, and here I am struggling,” says Rodriguez, who lives in New Rochelle, NY.

It was a necessary move when she went back to graduate school in 2009, because Rodriguez couldn’t afford rent on top of tuition payments. “It was so depressing that my dad came to my room and said, ‘Are you going through a breakup?’” Rodriguez remembers.

But as sad as she was to feel like she was moving backward, Rodriguez wound up using her situation to accomplish something great: She paid off $30,000 in student loans.

Loans on top of loans

When she graduated from college with a degree in Sociology, Rodriguez was earning a low salary as the manager at a movie theater and paying only the interest on her student loans. One day she realized that a coworker — who had been there for 12 years — was earning the same paycheck. “I thought, ‘What am I going to do?’” Rodriguez says. “This isn’t why I went to college.”

So she went back to graduate school to get a masters in communications, adding more debt to her student loan balance along the way. When she graduated, she had about $60,000 in student loans, split into two $30,000 balances, each with a 6.5% interest rate. “Based on the payment plan they had me on, I would be paying about $500 a month for the next 29 years,” she says. “With interest, I would end up paying a total of $120,000 by the time I was done.”

No luck in the job market

Unfortunately, Rodriguez continued to land low-paying jobs for the next few years, even enduring several months of unemployment. She continued paying only the interest on her student loans and putting as much money away as she could.

Then, at the end of 2014, she finally landed a better job doing digital marketing for a technology firm. She knew she could use her bigger paycheck to move out of her father’s house once and for all, but she had other ideas. “Instead, I made a payment plan to kill one of the loans,” she says. “I thought, ‘If I can just knock out one of those loans, I will save about $40,000 in interest.’”

She threw every spare penny at her loans, which were charging her $10 a day in interest. “I didn’t go on vacations,” she says. “I didn’t do anything. I would pay $20 on the loan every single day, and then on Fridays when I got my paycheck I would pay $200 or $400,” Rodriguez says. “I was dropping $1,500 to $2,000 a month on the one loan.”

By July, she’d saved up enough to pay the first loan off completely, which she did. “I clicked ‘Send’ to authorize the payment and I sat there and stared at the screen,” she says. “I couldn’t believe I actually set my mind to a goal and got it done. It was a great day.”

Making more plans

Although she’s paid off one big student loan, she still has the other $30,000 remaining — but she’s not stressed about it. “I’m not making myself a prisoner to that loan,” she says. “I really want to pay more than I should for the month, but now I have to budget for myself. I want an apartment, I want to travel and live, I don’t want to be tied down with these loans.”

For now, she expects to pay the second loan off — her payment is $200 a month — in 15 years. But she’s happy she had a support system that enabled her to ditch the first loan so quickly — and realizes that not everyone has the same goals that she does. “Just because I did it, it doesn’t mean it’s right for somebody else,” she says. “Some people like buying clothes every other day, some people have a kid or two, some people have pets. You have to assess your situation.”

The next goal on her bucket list? Save up for a place of her own again. “I’m 29 and I need an apartment,” she says. “I need to get out of my father’s basement.”

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Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Kate Ashford
Kate Ashford |

Kate Ashford is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Kate here

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Life Events, News

I’m 27 and I Just Moved Back in with My Parents

Senior Couple Talking To Financial Advisor At Home

Sharon Rosenblatt had been living away from her parents for a while. Until recently she was sharing an apartment with two friends in Silver Spring, MD, but then one of her roommates moved in with his fiancée. Rosenblatt and her other friend didn’t want to find a new third roommate, nor did they want to stay in their apartment, which needed some TLC. After researching the prices of shared two-bedroom apartments in the pricey Washington D.C. suburbs, moving back in with her parents started to seem like a good idea.

A Mounting Pile of Debt

Not only was rent uber expensive in the area, but Rosenblatt was saddled with about $2,000 in medical bills from a surgery she’d had over the summer, as well as about $6,000 in credit card debt. “Like most millennials, I spent unwisely in my early 20s, and I’m paying off credit cards and interest now at the wiser and more frustrated age of 27,” she says.

It was another financial kick in the teeth when she aged out of her parents’ health insurance and had to purchase coverage on the Maryland Health Exchange. “I fall just out of the financial range for a federal subsidy,” she said. “I’m lucky that my job includes a stipend for health insurance, though, and that helped a lot.”

So Rosenblatt decided not to sign a new lease with her previous roommate, and instead reclaimed her childhood bedroom in New Haven, CT for the short term. Now she telecommutes to her job as an IT specialist, and when she’s at home she makes space for herself among her high school knick-knacks. “I just finished cleaning out all the old binders I kept,” she said. “I was still keeping physics notes from high school.”

[When to Cut Off Your Boomerang Kid]

Cleaning Up her Finances

Rosenblatt still has a car payment and other expenses, but living rent-free has definitely made it possible for her to make real financial strides. “I have one more payment on the surgery,” she says. “Rent is a huge thing I’m happy I don’t have to factor in.” She’s also nixed about $1,000 of her credit card debt so far.

She pays $150 a month to rent a space in a local co-work facility three blocks from her father’s office, and they carpool. “I like having a place to go,” Rosenblatt says. “I need that structure.”

She considers herself lucky to be able to move back in with her mom and dad. “I’m fortunate that my parents are wonderful people who don’t mind cooking for a third person now,” she added.

Rosenblatt plans to be out of her parents’ house in a year, and perhaps find new roommates. She’s even thought about saving up for a house. “It would be nice to be in a position to own property instead of renting,” she says. “I would love to get back on my own.”

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Kate Ashford
Kate Ashford |

Kate Ashford is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Kate here

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Identity Theft Protection, News

Getting Back Thousands of Dollars after Bank Fraud

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When Carrie Hemler logged into her bank account in late November 2015, she intended only to transfer money to her daughter at college. Instead she ended up noticing several transactions on her checking account that she didn’t recognize — and that added up to more than $3,600. Hemler had been hit with bank fraud.

Unable to Get Ahead of the Problem

“They were all pending, and I immediately called the bank,” says Hemler, 49, who lives in Westampton, N.J.

What she heard from the customer service representative, however, wasn’t too helpful.

“He said they really couldn’t do anything until the posts cleared,” she said. “I said, ‘This person is about to drain my bank account, I have a mortgage bill that’s going to post in two days, and you’re telling me I have to wait until these clear?’ I couldn’t understand why they couldn’t stop it.”

To make matters worse, Hemler then learned that even after waiting for the posts to clear, she’d have to file an official dispute at her local bank branch and wait seven to 10 business days to get her money back. Hemler was furious.

Using the Resources at Her Disposal

After speaking with a supervisor at the bank and receiving the same unsatisfactory answers, Hemler took matters into her own hands. Turning to social media, she posted on the bank’s Facebook page about her disappointment with its customer service and the steps they weren’t taking to assist her. Within minutes she got a response — and was soon on the phone with a customer service rep who was determined to look into things.

“This was probably 9 p.m. on a Sunday evening,” Hemler says. “She called me back first thing Monday morning to tell me what happened.”

Evidently someone in the Miami area had posed as Hemler and called the bank directly to place a travel hold on her account. “They said, ‘Oh, we’re vacationing in Miami,’ so nothing looks suspicious,” said Hemler. The hacker had already used a fake copy of Hemler’s debit card to make a small transaction, and then used that transaction to verify identity on the phone, along with Hemler’s name and address.

“It’s very scary because we don’t use our debit card for online purchases, so it has me a little freaked out,” Hemler says. “It’s very violating.”

Cleaning Up the Hack

The new customer service rep was able to credit Hemler’s account for the fraudulent transactions so she’d still have enough money to pay her mortgage and other bills. Then she suggested that Hemler get a chipped (EMV) debit card, which wasn’t available from branch locations but could be mailed from the corporate office.

She also recommended that Hemler add a security code to her account that would have to be verified every time she or her husband called the bank or visited a branch. Hemler and her husband received new, chipped debit cards, changed their PIN numbers, and changed the passwords on their bank logins.

“Having said all that, my husband and I have agreed that we’re pretty much going to stick to credit cards only and use the not use the debit card for transactions unless we absolutely have to,” Hemler says.

“I was lucky in that this person at the bank took care of me so promptly, but I’ve heard so many stories where it’s a nightmare to work with the bank,” she says. “If something appears on a credit card, it’s very easy for them to take care of it for you.”

Hemler was lucky in the end to have everything taken care of, but it could have been much worse. Check out this piece for seven reasons your debit card makes you a target for fraud, and this one for three strategies to help fight credit card fraud.

MagnifyMoney Action Plan

Identity theft is an incredibly stressful experience, no matter how financially savvy you are.

Here are steps to take if you become a victim of fraud:

  • File police and FTC reports about the fraud.
  • Pull a copy of your credit report and then place freeze on your report with each of the three credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax).
  • File disputes about any incorrect information and close any bogus accounts.
  • If you have trouble resolving any of these issues, don’t hesitate to reach out to the CFPB.

There is one way to reduce some of the risk that a thief will access your bank account:

  • Use a credit card instead of a debit card your purchases, especially online.

Credit card fraud is annoying, but usually relatively simple to handle and banks can often detect unusually charges quickly. You should also have zero liability fraud protection on your credit card.

Debit cards and bank accounts, unfortunately, come with a different set of liability rules and it all depends on when you report the fraud. You could be liable for $50 if it’s reported within two business days after you find out about the loss, $500 if it’s more than two business days after the loss but less than 60, or even the full amount if you don’t report the loss for 60 days or more. Learn more about it here.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Kate Ashford
Kate Ashford |

Kate Ashford is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Kate here