Close your eyes and imagine the East Coast/West Coast beef of the ‘90s. There, you’ve just met my parents. Want to stop by for Thanksgiving?

I met the idea of moving back home with about as much as excitement as I did returning to the dentist that ripped out of my wisdom teeth without Novocain. But, things don’t always work out as we planned, and in these tough economic times, children young and old alike are finding themselves back under their parent’s roof.


The “bright side” of moving back home is that you’re likely to save a lot of money as you attempt to get back on your feet. That is, unless your mom is a hater and tries to charge you rent or something. Which reminds me: I love you, Mama!

Karen had to make a choice: Continue to barely put a dent in her debt or suck it up and move back home and dig herself out of a financial hole. Unfortunately, that cause was unraveled when a turn of events led her to switching roles with her mother.



Last spring I made an agreement with my mother to move back home for one year rent-free. Moving back home at 26 wouldn't be an option for most people, but visions of paid off credit cards and a lien-free car danced through my head. If I could go back in time I'd slap myself upside the head.

Shortly after I moved in with my mom she lost her full-time job. Soon I became the go to person for cash - school lunches, field trips, clothes for my siblings, and paying for utilities and helping cover the mortgage all became my responsibilities. It had gotten to the point where I even had to pay for the litter and cat food for my mother's pets. 

Mom revoked her rent-free vow a few months after I moved in. I was annoyed though I understood. After all, it was her house. 


Occasionally, there have been bright spots to living at home via free entertainment. My nephew loves to run into the bathroom and do a dance as while I brush my teeth. It started with the robot, and then later he moved on to the Swag and the Get Silly. Now he's perfecting the Stanky Legg. I would have never learned any of these dances living alone. 

April will make a year that I've been living back home, but my dreams of paying off my debt evaporated months ago. Many of my mom's sentences begin with, "I know you don't have it, but I need…"


In a year's time I now find myself in the worst shape I've ever been in financially. I've asked my mom for an additional month or two to get myself together, but that request seems to have fallen on deaf ears. I love my family and I'd do anything for them but helping to keep them afloat now has me drowning. 



As fun as it must be to learn all of the new dances for an eager nephew, paying for him and your siblings school supplies doesn’t sound all that appealing at a time when Visa and MasterCard are ready to place a bounty on anyone two hours late on their bill.


What advice would you give to Karen? Have the effects of the recession forced you or someone you know to carry the weight of their family?

Email me at

Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him on Twitter.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter