Long Story $hort Episode 8

Going from "Just Making It" to "Owning It"

When Jackie Upshaw moved from Philadelphia to Las Vegas to help take care of her mom, she brought some credit card debt with her across the country. When Jackie realized she was just "making it" with her finances, she knew she needed help. After thorough research, Jackie decided to own her debt and started working with the credit counselors at MMI. Since starting her debt payoff journey, she paid off $36,000 and increased her credit score over 100 points… all in in just over four years!

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Show Notes

  • Guest: Jackie Upshaw
  • Host: Adam Walker
  • Publication Date: August 30, 2022

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Jackie Upshaw: Don't be ashamed to talk about, if you have debt. If you have debt and you wanna get rid of it, find out the sources that you need to try to help you out, you know? 'Cause to me, I don't think there's any shame. I mean, you did it, get over it.

[00:00:26] 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 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.

Today on the show, I'm talking with Jackie Upshaw. Jackie lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. While working with the debt relief counselors at MMI, she paid off $36,000 and increased her credit score over 100 points. She did all of this in just over four years.

So here today to talk about her debt story is Jackie Upshaw. Jackie, welcome to Long Story Short!

[00:01:38] Jackie Upshaw: Thank you for inviting me.

[00:01:39] Adam Walker: Well, I'm very excited to hear your story. I'm so impressed with what you've been able to accomplish. It just it must take so much dedication. I just can't wait to hear from you. So, let's start with your story. Give us your one minute flyover of who you are, where you're from, and what's your days like.

[00:01:57] Jackie Upshaw: Okay. I'm originally from Philadelphia and I moved here to Las Vegas four and a half years ago to help my sister take care of my mom, and I'm retired. I retired in 2016 from the federal government after 36 years. And right now I'm out here in Vegas, taking care of my mom and my dad, and that's about it.

And just enjoying life out here for right now. Even though it's hot, but.

[00:02:30] Adam Walker: All right.

Yeah, that's the word is it's real hot and in Vegas right now.

[00:02:36] Jackie Upshaw: It's very hot.

[00:02:37] Adam Walker: Well, that's great. That's great. Well, all right, so let's dive in. What's your debt story and what was happening in your life when you became a client of MMI, was there, and was there any kind of particular breaking point where you knew you needed to get additional help?

[00:02:53] Jackie Upshaw: Yeah. When I moved out here to Vegas and I moved, we moved into an apartment, my sister and I, and my mom and my nephew. And so we were sharing the bills. So then I was seeing, looking at the bills that I bought with me from Philadelphia. I noticed that I had so much high credit card debt and I wasn't delinquent, but I was just making it.

So I, well, short story is years ago, maybe about 20 years ago, I was also in debt, credit card debt. And I used a credit counseling company that is similar to MMI and I had did the same thing. So I knew what the process entailed. And I was like, you know what, let me get rid of this debt, and try to make changes in my life where I can start saving money.

So, I just went online, trying to look through the companies and that's one thing people don't understand. They have to make sure they find the right company. So I had tried to find a company that I had used in Philadelphia. That was maybe they had a outlet here, come to find out MMI had the same, tools that the credit counseling company that I used before. So I went with them and just started the process building, you know, letting them know what my debt was. Got with them, and they came up with a plan, how much I needed to pay each month. And it worked tremendously, tremendously.

[00:04:30] Adam Walker: That's fantastic.

And I'm curious too, like you mentioned that you did research and then found MMI in that process. Did the fact that MMI as a nonprofit have any bearing on whether or not you decided to work with them.

[00:04:42] Jackie Upshaw: Exactly, exactly, because you have these, you see the commercials on TV or hear 'em on the radio and it's like, oh, if you have debt, we could just erase your debt and nobody can erase, you know, they can't erase your debt.

You have to be able to pay that debt off. It's just a matter of how it's paying off. That's what you have to understand. So, I knew that process and I knew they were nonprofit. And like I said, they were mirror companies with what I had used prior to. So I was like, okay. I know this company is legit.

I mean, of course I did. I Googled and did my research went on Yelp and everything. I'm a researcher, I'm a total researcher.

[00:05:24] Adam Walker: Good.

[00:05:24] Jackie Upshaw: And I found out what their, you know, what their process was. And I was like, okay, I'm gonna go with this company. And that just got the ball rolling.

[00:05:33] Adam Walker: That's fantastic. So since working with MMI, you've paid off $36,000 in debt, you've increased your credit score by over a hundred points.

That's not an easy task.

[00:05:45] Jackie Upshaw: No, it's not.

[00:05:45] Adam Walker: So what are some of the challenges that you faced along the way? What were some of the lessons that you learned along the way?

[00:05:54] Jackie Upshaw: Lessons learned is, stop opening up on a whole lot of credit accounts. Because it's so easy, you know, you go into the store and you got, you know handful of items and they're like, okay, let me tell you. You know, you can save 35% if you open up a credit card right now and look how much money you save. It sounds enticing, but it's also dangerous because you say to yourself, you know, let me open this up and I'll just pay the credit card off and then don't use it again.

That never happens. So, you know, you're just constantly building up these credit cards and you are using them. You're paying the bills, but you're also not paying them off, you know? So that became a problem. And mine's, I know some people build debt and credit card debt with medical bills and stuff like, mines was just items, you know, just personal items.

[00:06:54] Adam Walker: Yeah.

[00:06:54] Jackie Upshaw: You know, housewares. You know, clothes and jewelry and this and that. So that was my thing. It was just so easy, like to go out and like, oh, use the credit card and not realizing that eventually you gotta pay all these things off. So once they, you know,

[00:07:12] Adam Walker: Yeah.

[00:07:12] Jackie Upshaw: Once I got the, you know, the MMI and they told me what my total was and they told me what my monthly payment would be, and the monthly payment was doable.

I was okay, this works for me. So, you know, and once I paid it off, I knew what the pitfalls were. So now,

[00:07:36] Adam Walker: Yeah.

[00:07:36] Jackie Upshaw: I have a plan in place of how to avoid the pitfalls.

[00:07:42] Adam Walker: So, thinking back through paying off $36,000 in just over four years that's a lot to pay off in a short amount of time.

[00:07:49] Jackie Upshaw: Right.

[00:07:50] Adam Walker: Were there any challenges along the way that you really struggled to overcome or had to, rethink or anything like happened?

[00:07:59] Jackie Upshaw: No. I think what helped, was the fact that, like I told you, I moved out here and I moved me and my sister and my mom and all moved together. So I wasn't the only one paying the household bills.

So I was paying a portion. So I wasn't using all my retirement income, just, you know, by myself. So it gave me a little cushion of being able to do that at that point. So that helped. Believe me, it helped me tremendously. So, so it wasn't that bad in my particular case. Some cases, maybe somebody else, you know, they're living, you know, a single person living by their self and then trying to pay off this debt.

They have to work it into their, you know, and to their program and see if it works for them.

[00:08:52] Adam Walker: Yeah.

[00:08:52] Jackie Upshaw: You know, you just, that's what you have to do. You have to see if it works for you first, before you try it. 'Cause don't sign on a doted line, if you're not gonna be able to make it. Don't do that.

[00:09:02] Adam Walker: That's right

[00:09:03] Jackie Upshaw: Yeah.

[00:09:03] Adam Walker: That's right. Yeah. That's right. All right. So you live in Las Vegas and you were even featured on a local news story about credit card debt and the pandemic.

[00:09:13] Jackie Upshaw: Right.

[00:09:13] Adam Walker: So I'm just curious, how do you see debt playing out in the community around you?

[00:09:19] Jackie Upshaw: I don't know, you know. I'm, you're in Vegas which is a gambling town. I, you know, I'm not a big gambler. I like to go to shows and things like that. So you know. The lure of Vegas with the bright lights and everything for people to come out here, it is a dangerous thing. If you have no self control, you know, and that's what you have to have living in this, living in this state, is you have to have some self control not to get caught up into what they, what they're trying to offer you.

So, I mean, I have seen how it can affect some people out here. You know I still don't know a lot of people, you know, I've met a few people and the ones that I've met, they've been able to, you know. I see that they don't fall into that grind of like, oh, I have to do this. I have to go to the casino.

I have to go. And you know, so no it's not. People think like when you live in Vegas, that's all we do is just go to the casinos and, you know, and go to this and do this. No, it's like that, but it's not like that. I mean, one of the good things, one of my great things that I like to do now is, a lot of good restaurants out here. So I,

[00:10:44] Adam Walker: Yeah, I bet. I bet.

[00:10:46] Jackie Upshaw: Yeah. That's one of my vices right now and is finding good places to eat. So that's the only vice I have right now.

[00:10:52] Adam Walker: Okay. Okay. Well, I bet there's a lot of options out there for that. So,

[00:10:56] Jackie Upshaw: There's tons, tons.

[00:10:58] Adam Walker: Yeah. So, I wanna talk for a minute about the stigma around debt.

I know a lot of people kind of shy away from talking about it. They're embarrassed about it. How do you think debt stigma impacts a person's willingness to seek help? And how do you think we can begin to change that for people?

[00:11:16] Jackie Upshaw: It's funny that you brought that up because I was talking to my sister and my niece yesterday and I was telling him I was gonna do this podcast.

And my sister was telling my niece about how I was on the TV show, even talking about this, and my niece looked at me and she was like, really? I'm like, yeah. I said, that is the problem. People don't wanna talk about that. That is, to me, it's not something to be ashamed of. You own it. You know what I mean, own it.

[00:11:48] Adam Walker: Yeah.

[00:11:48] Jackie Upshaw: You, accumulated this debt and so why not say, okay, all right now I have all this debt. What can I do to get rid of it? Like talk to your friends and say, you know, do you know how, you know, I'm trying to figure out how I can get rid of this debt, but people just embarrassed about talking about it.

And I, to me, I just don't see the problem with it. I mean, I'm a little crazy or whatever, but I don't, I don't see the problem with talking about it because how else are you gonna find out? You talk to other people about the thing you want a recommendation, like what's the best restaurant to go to, you know?

So why not talk?

[00:12:27] Adam Walker: That's right. Yeah!

[00:12:28] Jackie Upshaw: Exactly. And so that's why,

[00:12:31] Adam Walker: How much more important is getting control of your debt over where you go to dinner. Right?

[00:12:35] Jackie Upshaw: Exactly.

[00:12:35] Adam Walker: So much more important. Right?

[00:12:36] Jackie Upshaw: Exactly. And that's why when MMI and I saw that they had sent out the email asking for advocates for this. I was like, sign me up because, my sister says I have this gift for gab, but hey, listen, if I have something to say, I'm going to say it.

[00:12:54] Adam Walker: I like that. I like that. That's great. That's great. Well, Jackie, this has been such a great conversation. I just have one last question for you.

[00:13:02] Jackie Upshaw: Okay.

[00:13:03] Adam Walker: What does freedom from debt look like for you?

[00:13:08] Jackie Upshaw: Right now, it looks fantastic because when we first moved out here we moved into an apartment. Kind of small, and so we wanted to rent a house.

So by building my credit up, made it easy to rent. We are renting right now, but I would like to buy one. So I did build my credit up then, I'm gonna say like two months ago, my car broke down, so now I need to buy a car. So if my credit hadn't, it wasn't as good as it is now. I would, no way would I have been able to get an interest rate at 2.7, okay. So I'm like, okay, now it's time to go, you know what I mean? So I had, and I had,

[00:13:56] Adam Walker: Yeah.

[00:13:56] Jackie Upshaw: I had all this armed, you know, knowledge with me when I went to go look for my car. And I'm like, you know, when I went to the dealership, they was like, well, we can, you know, we can do the finance. I said, well, can you beat 2.7?

If you can't beat 2.7, then I'm walking, and they was like, no, we can match that. Okay. Then if you could match it then fine. That's one example.

[00:14:19] Adam Walker: Alright. Alright. I love that. I mean, it sounds like the freedom from debt gave you, I mean, essentially, like you said, the ability to do what you needed to do financially to rent the right things you needed to have, to buy a car, to look at buying a house.

Like those are critical things and now you can do those things 'cause you,

[00:14:38] Jackie Upshaw: And watch out for,

[00:14:39] Adam Walker: put in the work.

[00:14:40] Jackie Upshaw: Right.

[00:14:40] Adam Walker: Yeah.

[00:14:41] Jackie Upshaw: and watch out for the pitfalls. Watch out for that.

[00:14:43] Adam Walker: Yeah, that's right. That's right.

Well, Jackie, this has been fantastic. I will ask, do you have any final thoughts that you'd like to share with our listeners before we wrap up here.

[00:14:51] Jackie Upshaw: Just to tell people, to let them know, don't be ashamed to talk about if you have debt. If you have debt and you wanna get rid of it, find out the sources that you need to try to help you out, you know, cause it, to me, I don't think there's any shame.

I mean, you did it. Get over it.

[00:15:14] Adam Walker: In the past. Now you just gotta figure out what to do next.

[00:15:17] Jackie Upshaw: Exactly. Exactly.

[00:15:19] Adam Walker: Well, Jackie, thank you for joining us on Long Story Short today. Thank you for sharing your story and thank you just for your whole very glowing persona today. It's been fantastic.

[00:15:30] Jackie Upshaw: Well, thank you so much for having me. I appreciate it.

[00:15:37] 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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