Long Story $hort: Season 3, Episode 3

Falling into Debt When Building a Home

Gabriel Grant is a military veteran from Connecticut. After finding MMI online, Gabriel enrolled in a Debt Management Plan to help pay off the debt he incurred from building a home, all while going back to school and welcoming a child.

Now, just three years later, Gabriel has paid off $25,000 and raised his credit score 50 points. Thanks to MMI, Gabriel can enjoy financial freedom in the comfort of his own home with his wife and daughter.

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Show Notes

  • Guest: Gabriel Grant
  • Host: Adam Walker
  • Publication Date: December 5, 2023


2:37 | Gabriel explains how building a new home and running over budget led to him maxing out credit cards in an attempt stay afloat.

4:46 | Gabriel talks about the specific features of the debt management plan that made debt repayment easier for him.

5:48 | Gabriel talks about the importance of a good budget when attempting to pay down debt quickly.

7:28 | Gabriel explains that while he was initially looking for a debt consolidation loan, he thinks the DMP was a better option for him.

9:34 | Gabriel talks about having extra money and financial breathing room now that he's out of debt.

Episode Transcript

Adam Walker: Debt. We've all heard of it, most of us have it. Debt is an almost unavoidable reality of life. But what happens when it starts consuming life? The experts at Money Management International believe that financial challenges aren't meant to be faced alone. On this podcast, we hear stories of people's whose lives have been changed by MMI's role as their toughest coach and loudest cheerleader. Their stories are unique, personal, and inspiring. So stay tuned because we're sharing each guest's Long Story Short.

Adam Walker: Today's guest is Gabriel Grant, a military veteran from Connecticut. After finding MMI online, Gabriel enrolled in a debt management plan to help pay off the debt incurred from building a home. Now, just three years later, Gabriel has paid off $25,000 and has raised his credit score by 50 points. Gabriel, welcome to the show.

Gabriel Grant: Thank you. Glad to be here.

Adam Walker: Man, I'm excited to hear your story and I can see that, you know, our podcast listeners can't see it, but I can see the home in the background that you built. Man, it looks... So fantastic on the inside, like very homey cabin feeling. So, congrats there. But, yeah, so, but let's start with a little bit about you. So tell us about you, you know, where do you live? What do you do?

Gabriel Grant: So my name is Gabriel. I live in Connecticut, for the past couple of years, I've been going to school on the GI bill. I used to be an auto body technician and, kind of switched professions midway through and decided I need to use the GI Bill to, you know, make use of that from being in the military.

Adam Walker: That's fantastic. And you said, you're going to school for mechanical engineering. Is that right? Man, that's fantastic.

Gabriel Grant: That's correct. Yeah. I'm one year out from finishing my bachelor's.

Adam Walker: Sounds profoundly difficult is what that sounds like to me.

Gabriel Grant: It is.

Adam Walker: Hats, off to you, my friend, for that.

Gabriel Grant: Thank you, sir. I appreciate it.

Adam Walker: All right. So your story is a little unique. you know, a lot of people we talked to, they have debt from, you know, buying too much stuff or going on vacations or using credit cards or whatever, but yours was a home build. So tell us a little bit more about that and tell us about the point where you realized you needed some outside help.

Gabriel Grant: Yeah, certainly. Like I said, I was an auto body technician and, at the time, at the time my girlfriend and I, now my wife, we were looking for a place to rent with two dogs and a baby on the way. And it just was very hard to find anywhere that was meaningful. And my wife had a chunk of property, so we thought it was time to build something on it.

We were already paying taxes on the property, so we need to put something up. Long story short, we got building and we ran grossly over budget and started turning to credit cards because, mortgage companies didn't like the fact that we weren't married yet. And it was myself building on my girlfriend's property. So, it wasn't easy to come up with financial funding at that point. So we went to credit cards and started maxing out credit cards at that point.

Adam Walker: Gotcha. And that was like, like, I mean, essentially to buy materials you needed to complete the project. Is that right?

Gabriel Grant: Right, right. Exactly. And I was always, you know, thinking I was playing it right. Like, oh, this credit card has so many months before they start adding interest. So I'll just use it for this many months. We'll be done with the build. But the build ran longer, things went over budget, you know, so it just started piling.

Adam Walker: Yeah, I mean, builds, man. Builds are notorious for that. So I certainly empathize with you there. I've been there. I understand. So since working with MMI, you've paid off $25,000. You've increased your credit score by 50 points. You did all that in.. Is it three years? Is that right?

Gabriel Grant: Yeah, I made sure and just any time I came across any extra money, I would just, you know, put it right towards MMI payments because they lowered the interest rates. And I was making that monthly payment. I just thought, you know, if I get it done quicker than I'm paying less money in the long run.

Adam Walker: Yeah, that's right. That's right. And so, so how did like having the personalized debt management plan, like how did that help you balance your budget and see a path forward?

Gabriel Grant: It was great in the fact that I didn't have seven different payments to make every month to different credit card companies and they were all outrageous interest rates. and it was, so it was hard to keep track of everything in the .Beginning and they were over my budget realistically, because this coincided with me switching my professions at the same time, I got out of the auto body industry, and started going back to school.

So my budget was caught a little bit at that point. So building that exact payment that I had every month with MMI was crucial to balancing out going to school and supporting a family at the same time.

Adam Walker: Yeah, I get that. So, all right, I wonder if you can kind of walk me through like what life is like while you're working to pay down that much debt because that, you know, it's a pretty big achievement.

And so I think a lot of, listeners might think, well, okay, but he probably never did anything fun at all for the entire three years. And all he did was, eat beans and go to sleep and get up and work seven days a week. So walk me through what's it really like doing that?

Gabriel Grant: Well, I mean, it's it was crucial to set up a good budget. And with that budget, we, my wife and I, we really tried to set aside certain amounts for the home build, a stipend for car maintenance, you know, gas every week. Just really try and cut down the budget to where we need it to be. And we made sure to add in, you know, fun money to that.

And, as long as with that payment every month, we were able to do that. You know, and some months, yeah, we didn't do a lot, but we saved it up for a good vacation or something, you know, and we tried to live good and I built this house around me too at the same time. So we got it done.

Adam Walker: So it's, I mean, just to, make sure it's not the end of all fun when you go to pay down debt, like there's still an enjoyment. You're still able to do things. You just have to be a little more thoughtful about it. Is that right?

Gabriel Grant: Right. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Just, plan it out and make sure you stick to that budget. And it was doable at that point. And then, as well, I put the extra money into it and then after putting the extra money on to it, then I was done paying it quicker than I thought it would be, you know.

Adam Walker: Man, that's fantastic. So fantastic. All right. So what was your credit counseling experience like with MMI?

Gabriel Grant: At first I was actually... when I found MMI, I was looking for some sort of debt consolidation loan or other sort of refinancing type of deal. And I came across MMI and realized that wasn't what I found. And I might've found something that was a little bit more useful to me. So I started talking to them, getting an idea of what they did.

And I went through a counseling of how much I could reasonably pay a month and what they thought they'd be able to get the payments down to. So I worked with a counselor in that regard. They estimated what they'd get it down to. Then we went forward with the plan. They talked to all my credit card companies and I came up with a monthly payment that was more than reasonable for me. So it worked out well.

Adam Walker: That's fantastic. And I know a lot of people are like hesitant to make that first call to have that conversation. They feel like, oh, maybe they're going to be judged or whatever else. I mean, can you talk a little bit about how that experience went for you?

Gabriel Grant: Yeah, I knew I was in kind of a rock and a hard place, you know, so I did feel that way, like it not knowing what kind of it feelings I was going to get out of that phone call. But overall, it was more than helpful and they were straightforward about what the program was like and what it was going to do to me and how it could help me. So overall, I think it was it was a good phone call and it was a good decision overall.

Adam Walker: Alright it sounds like you've gone through quite the journey in that, you know, you've in, in this short span of time, you've gotten married, I think you said you had a.. Did you have a child as well? I think you mentioned.

Gabriel Grant: Yeah, I had my daughter. Yep.

Adam Walker: You had your daughter amazing. You've built a house. all that through your sort of debt journey, it's quite a bit. What are some of the lessons that you could share with us that you've, kind of gleaned along the way?

Gabriel Grant: Well, once I put, kind of put my nose down and ground out that debt, I ended up with a big chunk of change every month that I was able to do a lot with, you know, and I've put a lot of money into my house so far.

I bought myself a machine to take care of my property, you know. Like afterwards. It's a big reward and not having that looming debt every month. Like, Oh, how are we going to make all these payments? And did we make all the payments? Did we miss any of them? You know? So like, it's a, big relieving factor being done with it all now. Like I'm not done with the house. There's always projects around here to be done, you know, but, at the same time. Being done with the credit cards is, a big deal. It's a big relief.

Adam Walker: Yeah. I mean, I'm, I imagine that's just a lot of freedom and that kind of leads me to my last question for you. What does freedom from debt look like for you?

Gabriel Grant: It basically I'm still sticking to those budgets that me and my wife made up and now we're able to actually make progress with our money and devote it towards, you know, further improvements on our property and thinking about investments moving forward and stuff like that. Kind of setting myself up for a good place to enter the mechanical engineering field, you know, and so we're kind of setting ourselves up for success more or less, you know. Once I graduate school, I'm going to be able to get a good job and not have any debt to worry about at that point.

Adam Walker: Man. That's got to feel fantastic.

Gabriel Grant: Yeah. Yeah. It feels I'm just starting the, you know, the race to wealth at this point, you know.

Adam Walker: Man, that's great. That's great. Well, congratulations, Gabriel, and all the work that you've done and on all the major life accomplishments in such a short span of time. Best of luck to you as a mechanical engineer, really admire that degree. That's a tough one, man.

Gabriel Grant: I appreciate that.

Adam Walker: And thank you for being on the show today.

Gabriel Grant: All right. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

Adam Walker: This guest is a real MMI client whose success is the result of hard work and dedication.

While MMI cannot guarantee results, taking early action can increase available options and improve long term outcomes. Thanks for listening to this episode of Long Story Short, brought to you by Money Management International. To learn more about how MMI helps people from all walks of life get unstuck and out of the vicious cycle of debt through personalized solutions that inspire hope, visit moneymanagement.org. This episode was produced by Edgewise Media, scriptwriting and production by Clara Jennings, editing by Brandon Ellis, and show hosting by me, Adam Walker.

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