Everett Lacey is a poet and photographer living in Columbia, Maryland. After a series of unexpected costs, Everett found himself in $26,000 of debt. With all of this debt quickly piling up, he had no idea what to do to ensure he could still pay his bills. It was at this point that he reached out to MMI. With the help of MMI, Everett was able to pay off the $26,000 and raise his credit score substantially.
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Guest: Everett Lacey
Host: Adam Walker
Publication Date: January 2, 2024
2:12 | Everett talks about the circumstances that first led to him falling into debt.
4:08 | Everett talks about how his credit improved while on a debt management plan and how that strong can save you money.
5:19 | Everett walks through his experience with MMI and the patience and kindness he received from his counselor.
8:12 | Everett talks about the new money management skills he picked up while working with MMI.
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 $hort. Joining us on the show today is Everett Lacey. Everett, welcome to the show.
Everett Lacey: Thank you for having me.
Adam Walker: Well, I'm really excited to talk to you. Let's start about, who are you? Where do you live? What do you do?
Everett Lacey: I am living in Columbia, Maryland. From, 1997 to 2023, I lived in Charlotte, North Carolina. I moved to Maryland to be close to my family. What helped me move was MMI, Money Management International. At this time I'm retired, however, I have my own business that I, that I'm rebooting now. I'm in Maryland as a photographer and also as a poet. I give poetry workshops and poetry parties as well as, freelance photography services.
Adam Walker: Man, that's fantastic. What is it? Poetry party? I love that.
Everett Lacey: Poetry parties are, you heard of paint parties?
Well, you sit down with me on a virtual party line and we have a session of writing poetry with your snacks and wine and cheese or whatever you like. I take you from A to Z in an hour and a half. Even if you've never written a poem before, you'll write the first one within the first 15 minutes. I promise.
Adam Walker: Wow. That's pretty amazing. I love that business. Okay. All right. Well, everyone, we're here to talk first about your debt journey. And then second ,about your experience with MMI.
So let's start with the debt journey. Tell us about the debt that you ended up in, how you got there, and how you start to realize that you needed to get out.
Everett Lacey: Well, I ended up with a perfect storm. I had just gotten married and my air condition went out. It was enough expense getting married and getting the ring and all this stuff that goes along with having a happy marriage and a great wedding. My air condition went out. That was thousands of dollars. Not only that, I had to use a credit card to pay for the air conditioning system, I had thousands of dollars set aside to pay for it. Not only that, I had a car that was just eating up my money. It was, I thought it was going to be a classic. It was an older car. I was trying to get it to the point where it would reach a classic, I guess you can say the age of a classic car. That ate up thousands of dollars. I ended up with all the debt that I accumulate in a very short period of time was over $26,000 in debt. I had no idea how I was going to pay for it.
And each month the debt would just rise and rise as the interest rate was just multiplying. The debt that was already existing, I had to do something. So I called MMI. And what eventually happened was that MMI negotiated with my creditors and got my interest rates reduced and stop the bleeding, the financial bleeding. And without MMI, I would not have been able to pay off that debt in a shorter period of time as I did. I paid off that 26 plus thousand dollar debt in less than four years.
Adam Walker: Wow, man, that's fantastic. Congratulations on that!
Everett Lacey: Yeah, thank you. And the other amazing thing that happened once I paid off the debt, my credit score went from the mid 600s to the mid 700s. And, as we all know in this world, if you don't have good credit, you always pay a premium for everything that you purchase using credit. And even things you don't use credit for, trying to get an apartment or, just things that where they check your credit report, you'll always pay a premium. You're going to pay more money with bad credit. I don't have that problem anymore.
Adam Walker: Man, that's so true. And I'm so glad that you don't have that problem anymore. And it's interesting too, thinking about your experience. A lot of people that I interview have debt because of just, living beyond their means or whatever else it sounds like really that in your case, just life happened. And, AC air conditioners are extremely expensive and things just pile up unexpectedly. So, I wonder if you could talk a little bit about what the experience was like as you went through the process, both when you first started with MMI.
Everett Lacey: Well, when I first started with MMI, they were very patient with me, guided me through the process. We determined how much debt I had accumulated, then it was determined that I did qualify. So, they began to negotiate with my creditors and reduce the amount of interest I had to pay on each credit card and all my debts accumulated we're paid off in one bundle, once. It was determined how much I owe. A monthly amount was determined. And I ended up paying all my credit cards at once. With that one fee, every month. Once one credit card was paid off, the smallest balance was paid off, then that amount paying for the smallest balance rolled over to the next lowest balance.
I paid off the first credit card. The money that was going to the first credit card went to the second credit card as well. So, that snowball effect kept going till they were all paid off.
Adam Walker: Man, that's fantastic. So, I wonder if you could talk a little bit about, you're making that monthly lump sum payment that's helping you pay off all the credit cards, like you'd said, and that sort of snowball effect. So talk about what was your lifestyle like during that time? Did you, were you still able to do fun things? Were you still able to go out to eat or did you not do any of that stuff?
Everett Lacey: Oh yeah. It takes a little discipline. I was able to do everything I wanted to do. However, it was my responsibility to take care of my responsibilities. So I made sure that payment was made above and beyond everything else, that did not require basic living expenses, like eating, housing, transportation, et cetera.
That money was set aside for it. There was no suffering involved. There was an opportunity to get the debt relieved, so that was a priority, particularly since it was going to be relieved in such a short period of time. So I didn't miss out on anything really. I ate well, I lived in a nice place, I had a couple cars and it was just a matter of making it a priority. Because that debt hanging over me was just like a anvil hanging around my neck. I had to get that relief.
Adam Walker: So, working with MMI, what did you learn through that process? Either about managing money or even just about yourself in general.
Everett Lacey: Well, I learned about managing money, for one thing, I only have one credit card now. It's the lowest interest rate of all the credit cards I had. I definitely don't accumulate debt like I have in the past, because I only have one credit card and I learned to never get another credit card again and pay this one off that I have.
I also, learned that other people can use the services that are in credit trouble. I recommend MMI to many folks that have difficulty paying their bills, particularly those that are with their creditors. And they find much success with MMI as well. I learned also that, not accumulate that kind of debt again, ever and paying off your bills are more important than, let's say, a weekend vacation at Ocean City or something like that. How about day trips to the park in Columbia? Or some place simple like that's not going to eat up a lot of cash.
Adam Walker: Yeah, you can. There's lots of ways to have fun and enjoy life that are not necessarily all that expensive.
So, a walk in the park, for example, is free and pretty enjoyable. So, okay. So, are there any other sort of- Any advice you'd have for anybody that's in debt right now?
Everett Lacey: Yeah, I do have advice. One thing is contact MMI to stop the bleeding, that cash bleeding. They can do it in a matter of a couple days, maybe a week or so. they will make arrangements with your creditors to have that interest rate reduced and stop the increase of debt on the spot and arrange for payment that bundles all your debt and over a period of time you'll be debt free. Now that's a good feeling to be debt free. I'm experiencing that right now.
I do have one credit card that is under control and other than that, all my debts are paid. So, it is a great feeling that I hope everyone experiences and they can do it with MMI.
Adam Walker: That's right. Well, Everett, man, this is great. I love your story. So impressed with what you've been able to do in such a short amount of time and the discipline that is required to do that.
Last question for you. What does freedom from debt look like for you?
Everett Lacey: Well, it looks like a new home because I say so much. I've been able to put aside a great penny to say towards down payment on a new home. Wow. Which I'll be moving into in 2024.
Adam Walker: Wow, man. I love the foresight to do that and the discipline it takes to do that.
I love that. That's so fantastic. I wish you all the best. In your new home and in your continued, debt free journey, Everett, thank you so much for joining us on the show today.
Everett Lacey: Oh, my pleasure, anytime.
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 $hort, 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. Script writing and production by Clara Jennings, editing by Brandon Ellis and show hosting by me, Adam Walker.
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