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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

hacker with credit card

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

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News, Student Loan ReFi

Paying off $14,000 in Student Loans in 3 Years on a $55,000 Salary

Student Loan

When Andy Pollen graduated with his MBA in 2009, he was happy to have a job in public relations in Indianapolis – but was less than thrilled about the $14,000 in graduate student loans that were hanging over his head. The shackles of debt were not only preventing him from progressing to the next phase in his life, but the interest payments were going to add up over time. So Pollen decided to take his take action and attack his debt.

Running the Numbers – and Getting Motivated

Pollen did some calculations, and at the 6.75% interest rate on his debt, he was looking at paying nearly $4,500 on top of his $14,000 balance if he stuck with the prescribed 10-year payment plan.

“I knew that within the next five years I wanted to be able to have my own house, and I wanted to make sure I could afford the kind of place I wanted,” says Pollen, now 33. The breaking point for him was seeing how much that $14,000 would cost him over time.

“When you run the numbers, you see all the money you’re really giving back, as opposed to how much would be in my pocket if I was a little more aggressive,” explains Pollen.

[Top 6 Things to Know Before Taking Out a Student Loan]

Devising a Repayment Plan

Even with the numbers in front of him, Pollen wasn’t sure exactly how to tackle the debt, so he reached out to a financial advisor in the area, outlined his situation and long-term goals, and asked if the financial planner would be willing to help him devise a plan. “He jumped at the opportunity,” Pollen says.

The two of them went through Pollen’s finances, analyzing his cash flow and pinpointing areas where he could cut back. Pollen was making $55,000 a year at his PR job for a local hospital system, and he noted that he was spending a lot of income on non-necessities like eating out, buying clothes and going to concerts. “I was able to see that if I shifted some of that money elsewhere, how quickly I could pay off my loan,” he says.

Pollen started tightening his budget, limiting himself to one lunch out and one night out with friends per week. He dumped cable but kept Netflix, and got rid of satellite radio. Instead of buying new music, he checked out CDs from the library. “The amount of money I was saving by not buying new really made a huge difference,” says Pollen.

[18 Common Student Loan Terms, Explained]

Small Changes Add Up to Big Debt Payments

All the sacrifices paid off. Pollen was first able to pay off his car loan—nearly $6,000—within the first year. After that, he put $600 to $800 per month toward his student loan, and by mid-2011, he was making $1,000 payments about every other month. “In my mind, I’d been thinking of all those things I could have spent that money on, but seeing that number drop by that much in a month made me feel like this is the right thing, this is going to be over before I know it,” he says.

Pollen made his last payment in 2012, just three years after graduating, and in 2014 he was able to make good on his housing plans, purchasing a three-bedroom, two-bathroom condo in downtown Minneapolis, where he lives now.

“Not only was it great to see my dream of home ownership coming true, but I was able to buy a place I loved, in the neighborhood where I wanted to live,” Pollen says. “I thought back to the sacrifices I had made during my loan repayment and wished I could go back and tell myself, ‘See, it was worth it.’”

MagnifyMoney’s Action Plan

Andy Pollen’s dedication to tightening up the purse strings in order to aggressively pay down debt is one effective way to get back in the black. But an additional tactic would be to refinance those loans to a lower interest rate so even more of the aggressive payments go towards the principal balance. Reducing a 6.75% interest rate to a fixed rate of 3.50% on a 5-year term could save $4,009 before even making the increased payments to get out of debt sooner.

Those with federal student loans and modest incomes should consider an income-driven repayment program in order to ensure the monthly payments are affordable.

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