Bank of Mom and Dad: $41,000 in Debt

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Each week on SOAPnet’s new original reality series Bank of Mom and Dad, a twenty-something woman who is drowning in debt must pay the ultimate price ... letting her parents move in! With the assistance of money coach Farnoosh Torabi (that's me), Mom and Dad will teach their daughter to rethink her spending habits and transform her relationship with money.

“If I see something I want, I just gotta have it!” Those have been Danielle Martin’s words to live by and it’s finally catching up to her bank account. In this week’s episode, we helped Danielle, a 28-year-old budding fashion designer from Hartford, Conn. She recently lost her job and is struggling to make money.

While she is receiving $800 per month in unemployment claims, it’s not enough to support her and her young family’s living cost, let alone her $41,000 in debt. (Danielle is married with a 2-year-old daughter. Her husband Marcus also lost his job a short while ago and is collecting unemployment benefits.) Danielle’s debt includes $29,000 in student loans, an $8,000 car loan and thousands more in overdue utilities, parking tickets and medical bills. Danielle’s biggest expenses include her beauty care (she loves wigs!) and small business expenses.

Business expenses? That’s right, on top of everything Danielle is trying to start her own fashion line. This is her passion, she says, but mistakenly Danielle is putting a great deal of money about $365 monthly toward this business plan before taking care of her immediate responsibilities such as paying for her utilities and rent. The great challenge for Danielle is to accept that she must resolve her debt and save up first, before investing in her own business. Here’s what she learned:

Get Organized

Danielle had no idea how much debt she was in. Initially she guessed simply $25,000 almost $20,000 off the actual figure. If you asked her how much she owed the electricity company, she’d draw a blank. If you asked her where her car loan statements are, she wouldn’t know where to start looking. (Well, she’d probably turn to her junk drawer in her kitchen and spend an hour sorting through it).

In short, Danielle is financially lost. She has no paper trail or running list in her head of what she owes. This lack of organization translates into forgotten bills and unnecessary fees and penalties. It’s partially because she’s in denial, but also because she doesn’t know where to begin in order to get organized. Here, mom - who’s an organization queen - stepped in. She showed her the power of categorization and how to build folders to easily access her financial paperwork and receipts.

Save on Wigs

When it comes to hair, Danielle is unstoppable. She spends hundreds of dollars on individual wigs and thinks she “needs” to continue buying pieces because her hairpieces tend to get worn-out quickly. To teach her a lesson, a professional stylist took one of Danielle’s wigs that she was prepared to toss and showed how proper cleaning and grooming can extend its life by two years (and save her major money).

You Can Focus on Your Business Without Spending

Byron Lars, Danielles’s idol fashion designer, made a surprise visit on the show to give the aspiring fashionista an honest pep talk about how to get started in the fashion world with little to no money.

First things first, network and keep your professional relationships in good standing, he said. Don’t burn bridges with anybody in this business because it’s a small world.

Another tip he had for the reluctant-to-find-any-job-unless-it’s-in-fashion Danielle find value in every job. Opportunities are everywhere. The important thing for Danielle right now is to make money and not be picky about the type of work she lands.

Catch a new episode of Bank of Mom and Dad, Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on SOAPnet.

—For the best rates on loans, bank accounts and credit cards, enter your ZIP code at BankingMyWay.com.

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