Sarah Canieso thought her student loans meant she couldn’t become a homeowner—until she and her partner met with a financial planner.

(As told to Sarah Pascarella)

A few years ago, I was living with my boyfriend in his parents’ house outside Boston. We both had long, difficult commutes and were looking for a change: We wanted to attend web programming or community events, or try new restaurants after work downtown, but the long commute always made it easy to justify not going. We discussed buying a house closer to our jobs, but there was one big roadblock: my student loans.

Like many Grownups, I have a significant amount. And I had been putting off my goals because of them.

My boyfriend’s father, though, had recently met a financial planner through his job, and connected us. So we met with him.

First, we talked through our goals: We said we wanted to move closer to the city, have our own space, and cut down our commute. We really just wanted to be in the city for the first time — we had always been in the suburbs.

Then, we discussed renting versus buying. We learned that, because of the mortgage rates at the time, having a mortgage would be significantly cheaper than average rent in the neighborhoods we liked—and we liked the idea of building equity at the same time.

We also looked at my goal of paying off my student loan debt. From my discussions with our planner, we went over how the student loans would always be there, but if I only concentrated on paying them down I would not be any closer to my goals—or have any equity to show for it—if we waited.

I had been paying down my loans aggressively, but when we realized we could buy a house, we changed course and reallocated our budget. Today, I have fewer loans and we have a place of our own.

Working with a planner really changed my course of action and the way I think about money. I really valued having a knowledgeable outside perspective on my finances: He made the idea of homebuying seem feasible, and I never would have considered it myself. Our meetings gave me a clear sight of my goals, and now I look at how my decisions today will affect my life in the future.

And the best part? We have a place we love and short commutes—my commute is a 10-minute walk!


When she’s not in the zone—working on the website—Sarah can be found eating (or reading ingredient labels).

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 While we hope the information and opinions offered by the author in this article are useful, it’s only intended to provide general education and it’s not intended as legal, tax, or investment advice, and may not apply or be useful to your specific financial situation.

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