Bank of Mom and Dad: Overspending on Smokes

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Each week on SOAPnet’s new 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.

This week we met 26-year-old bride-to-be Carmela Adesso from Bayonne, N.J., who was carrying roughly $30,000 in debt due to her pricey shopping habits. More than a third of her monthly income was going towards clothes, makeup, tanning, nails and cigarettes.

All the while Carmela was aiming for an over-the-top wedding with ice sculptures, a professional orchestra and a designer gown. So how can she get out of debt and afford the wedding of her dreams? That was the challenge. Here's some of the advice.

Cut Costs Out of Your Wedding

You want to get married or weddinged? Instead of spending money on wedding favors — trinkets that’ll probably get tossed or forgotten about quickly — opt to make a donation to a charity in honor of your guests.

Share the news on a small card next to individual table settings but don’t worry about including the amount of your donation — that’s private. Spend as much you want without breaking the bank. This is where the thought counts a lot more than the dollar amount spent.

You can also create and print your own invitations and save-the-dates using helpful sites like vistaprint.com and mygatsby.com. And instead of hiring a professional film and videographer, consider hiring a trustworthy, experienced friend (who can “gift” you his or her video or photographs) or a college student with a nice portfolio of work.

Cut Back on Smoking

The health risks of smoking were clear to Carmela but she didn’t quite see the financial damage.

Carmela smokes about one pack of cigarettes per day, spending roughly $250 a month on her addiction. That money tucked away in a conservative savings account earning 3% for the next 30 years will produce roughly $150,000.

Together with her boyfriend (who also has a pack-a-day habit) the couple could save $300,000 if they quit buying cigarettes.

Fashion Swap

Carmela was spending $1,240 a month on clothing, an expensive habit that was causing a great deal of financial grief. To teach her an alternative to shopping, Carmela’s mom invited her friends and cousins over for an impromptu fashion swap where Carmela and the guests exchanged articles of clothing — out with the old and in with some new — for free! There are sites online that facilitate swaps, too, such as swapstyle.com and thredup.com

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

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

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