Family – Can’t Live With ‘Em…Unless It Helps Debt

I was in the hole for thousands over a few credit cards.

I was getting better at paying on time and I was managing to pay more than the minimum due. I was also transferring balances to lower and zero interest rate cards (which had it’s ups and downs). The totals were chipping away but it still felt like it would take forever to pay my credit debt off. At the time I was living on my own supporting myself with a full-time job. What I could save I did.

Then something interesting happened – I lost my apartment.

Seems my landlord wasn’t really supposed to be renting his basement out to tenants. Some funny NYC law that said he wasn’t zoned for it. Great. I had a few dollars saved but really I was still living paycheck to paycheck. If I went and found a new apartment, which would be more expensive and involve moving costs, real estate fees, etc…, I would be completely tapped out and would have to add more to my credit cards to get by.

Fortunately my parents came to the rescue.

They still had an extra room and they were ok with me moving back in with them. Now understand, I love my parents and they were great in helping me out but the last thing I wanted to do was move back into my parents’ place. But I didn’t really have many better options either. So I managed to cram all of my stuff back at their place. My original idea was to stay as long as needed to save up enough to move to a new apartment (I wasn’t paying rent now so I should have enough in a few months or so). It was not fun being back at the ‘rents. All the freedom I had grown accustomed to were gone. But I needed time to save.

After the first month I realized something – by not paying rent or electricity I was able to save a lot more than I had been. By the end of the second month, seeing how my bank account had grown, I decided to put a new apartment on the back burner. I was gonna suck it up and stay at my folks until my debt was gone!

What was the point of moving back out and being in the same debt situation?

With my new resolution I started to pay much more than the minimum on my credit cards.

Soon one card was paid off. Then another. One day I was finally able to get rid of all of my credit card debt! I felt like a slave that had just been freed!! No more of that debt monkey on my back. I was able to look at all of my bills and accounts and finally say that I had a positive net worth! This was not just a financial victory but a huge psychological victory!

I started to save for real. Not saving to pay debt but saving for me. As tough as it was living with my parents I realized what freedom really was. Sure I couldn’t live the same way under my parents’ roof as I did on my own, but freedom meant being free from debt (or free from broke)! It took me being thrown out of my apartment and moving back with my parents to realize that.

Do you have a debt story? Let me know in the comments

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Published or updated July 18, 2013.


  1. Do you appreciate your parents letting you back in the house?
    Also are you helping out with expenses?
    I like that your paying off your debt, etc.
    But You also sound a bit selfish.
    It probably ain’t no walk in the park for your parents with you back in the house.

  2. Free From Broke says:

    Yeah, it would be interesting seeing my parent’s point of view in all of this. I probably wasn’t all that great to live with. I did fully appreciate my folks’ hospitality and did contribute my share of expenses. Thanks for pointing out that I sound selfish. That certainly wasn’t my intent. Thanks for the comment!

  3. I’m considering moving back home also to rid myself of debt in a year or two. It’s hard on the ego, but my parents actually would love to have me back. Though they have never given me money, they also won’t take rent from me. My parents are older and living in an aging house that needs work, however, and hopefully by helping with repairs and upkeep I can more than contribute.

  4. Free From Broke says:

    That sounds like a great plan David! It’s a tough blow moving back but the relief of eliminating debt is much greater! Sounds like it could be a win-win situation for you and your folks.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I have been living on my own for four years since graduating college. My credit card debt is in the thousands, and I am seriously considering moving back in with my parents. I am in IL and they are in TX. Do you have any advice on a cross-country move? I also like the idea of not being financially commited to a lease. Thanks for your help.

  6. Free From Broke says:

    @ Anon – First off I’d have to say look at the stuff you have and see if you can get rid of anything that isn’t essential. See if you can sell or donate anything. This will help eliminate moving some stuff as well as possibly getting some cash or a tax break for it.

    I’ve never moved cross country so I’m not sure what other advice I could give. If you need to you could rent a truck and drive it with your stuff. That should be cheaper than flying. These days you can rent trucks and drop them off all over the country (I’m thinkin’ U-Haul here). If you have some buddies with cars you could make it a big road trip for all of you!

    Let me know how it works out. And good luck on getting rid of your debt. Just keep working at it and you’ll soon see it disappear.

  7. Boy did I feel like a loser when I had to move back in with my parents after six years of living on my own. But, like your story, the house that I rented ended up being sold and I realized if I ever wanted to buy one I couldn’t afford to save and pay rent on my teacher’s salary. Then I realized something. I’m not a loser…times are tough. I work full time and work really hard for the kids in my class. I have student loans and a car loan and credit cards I maxed out while trying to make it, buy groceries etc. I also know that someday since I am paying my debt and working on being more responsible that I’ll be able to help my parents someday if they ever need it. I believe in family 🙂

  8. @ Heather – Sounds like you made the right decision. For me, moving back with my folks broke my cycle of debt!

  9. juliana elizabeth says:

    I need to talk to you!!1 I have to move back home, and needed the advice. I am in the same situation, and come from folks who balk and tease. I am looking forward to starting my own business and getting out of debt. Thanks for your article….

  10. @ Juliana – It’s tough but if you have to do it then do it. Some razzing from the family is a small price to pay to get rid of debt! Good luck!

  11. Thanks so much for a great article. I’m one year removed from college and still living in the city I went to school in (Tampa, FL). I wanted my independence (and the endless fun Tampa has to offer) but my debt continues to own me. I think my decision to move back home (NH) for awhile is close to cemented. Thanks again!

    • Glad my story could help Ryan! Before you move back with your ‘rents make sure you have a solid understanding of what moving back will mean and what is expected of you (like chipping in for rent and such).

  12. I moved back to my parents just over 12 months ago, I also turned 30 in this time… this was not what I had planned!!! How did this happen?? I own a house where I lived on my own from the age on 24. I felt very proud that I bought my own house at that age and felt very independant at the time. I then met someone and decided to rent my house out and move in to his. I already had a loan and stupidly carried on runnning up credit cards, basically living beyond my means. I was also made redundant and didnt earn as much as my previous job. Before I knew it I had racked up a lot of debt. The relationship failed and I had to move out. Unofrtunately I could no longer afford to live on my own with all that debt! I had to spill the news to my parents about my debt and ask if I could move back with them. How degrading!! I felt like a total failure and still constantly beat myself up about it on a daily basis. However, this has worked out great!! They are loving the company and I actually prefer their company compaired to livin on my own again! 14 months later I am still here and almost debt FREE!! Cant wait and I am so so grateful for my parents support. I’ll hopefully be moving back into my house in summer 2013 and can start being an independant 30 something again 😉

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