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IT'S NOT JUST LOSERS WHO MOVE BACK WITH MOM AND DAD

In his poem "Death of the Hired Man," Robert Frost wrote: "Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in."

I'm sure that many of the 18 million 18- to 35-year-olds the U.S. Census Bureau says are living at home with their parents certainly can attest to that poetic truth.

Increasingly, because of a job loss, divorce, high student loan debt, credit card debt or just life, adults are returning home to mommy and daddy for financial and/or psychological refuge.

If you're a boomerang adult, how do you cope with living with a parent or parents again? What if your parents let you back in begrudgingly? When you move home, should you pay rent? Are you a failure if you have to go back home?

If you're struggling with such questions, you need to read the Color of Money Book Club selection for May, "Boomerang Nation: How to Survive Living With Your Parents . . . the Second Time Around" (Fireside, May 2005, $14) by Elina Furman.

Furman is an authority on this issue if for no other reason than she's been there and done that. After college, Furman moved in with her mother and older sister and there she stayed for all of her 20s.

"With all the goalposts of adulthood -- housing, economic independence, employment, completion of education -- getting harder and harder to achieve, it's not surprising that so many of us are choosing to turn back instead of run ahead," she writes.

Furman says she wrote the book to help those moving back home to eradicate the notion that there is something wrong with them.

The book is part therapy, part basic financial planning. Furman has packed a lot of information in the 213-page softcover book. She addresses just about every issue that can come up with going back home (or never leaving) -- depression, guilt, dating, having to live in your old bedroom or the basement, being treated like a child again, acting like you're a child.

Furman says it might be time to go home if:

You wake up in a sweat from nightmares of credit-card and school-loan hell at least once a week.

You have big goals for the future (buying a house, saving for retirement, attending graduate school, starting a small business), but you have no idea how you will accomplish these things living on your own.

You've been hit hard by a series of harsh life events and need time out to regroup.

Whatever the reason you moved back home, "Boomerang Nation" provides some honest and humorous advice on dealing with the challenges of going home again.

If you are interested in discussing this month's book selection, join me at noon May 26 online at www.washingtonpost.com. Furman will be my guest.

To become a member of the Color of Money Book Club, all you have to do is read the recommended book and come chat online with me and the author. In addition, every month I randomly select readers to receive copies of the selected book, donated by the publisher. For a chance to win a copy of "Boomerang Nation" send an e-mail to colorofmoney@washpost.com. Please include your name and an address so we can send you a book if you win.

e-mail: singletarym@washpost.com

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