Long Story $hort: Season 2, Episode 1

How MMI Helped Jarred Tackle Unexpected Medical Debt

Jarred Butler’s finances were stretched thin when unexpected medical expenses started piling up. As a busy dad of four kids, all under the age of 10, Jarred needed help. When he contacted MMI, he was pleasantly surprised by their expertise and encouragement. Since working with the debt relief counselors at Money Management International, Jarred paid off $30,000 in just over one and a half years, increasing his credit score by 100 points.

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Long Story $hort Jarred Butler.

Show Notes

  • Guest: Jarred Butler
  • Host: Adam Walker
  • Publication Date: March 7, 2023


2:26 | Jarred explains how medical bills led to unexpected debt for his family.

4:08 | Jarred talks about how a debt management plan from MMI helped him finally start seeing progress in his battle against debt.

6:23 | Jarred shares his surprise at how much the team at MMI cared about him and wanted to help.

10:52 | Adam and Jarred talk about how important it is to have conversations about debt and break down the stigma.

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

Today on the show, I’m talking with Jarred Butler. Jarred lives just outside of Tulsa. While working with the debt relief counselors at Money Management International, Jarred paid off $30,000 in just over one and half years, increasing his credit score 100 points along the way. Here today to share more about his debt payoff story… is Jarred Butler. Jarred, welcome to the show.

Jarred Butler: Thank you. I appreciate it. Thanks for having me, man.

Adam Walker: I'm excited to talk to you, not just because of your accomplishment with paying off that debt, but because I know your debt sort of started in a different way than a lot of people's does. But before we get to that, let's start with your story. Tell us a little bit more about you, where you live, and what you do.

Jarred Butler: Yeah, so I live right outside Tulsa. We've actually, we moved here about eight months ago from Colorado. That was one of those things... when you start getting your finances in order, you can pick where you want to live and kind of choose the freedom there. So, yeah, we chose Tulsa as a good fit for our family. And so I actually do contract creative and marketing work.

Adam Walker: Nice, okay. That's fun. We're like-minded in that way. So, so your story I mentioned this at the beginning. Your story's a little bit unique in that your debt didn't come from spending too much on clothes, and cars, and non-essentials. It was medical bills that really shook your financial picture. So can you tell us more about that? And when did you realize that you needed outside help?

Jarred Butler: Yeah. No, and I think "shook" is definitely the right word. So I was actually at a nonprofit at the time. And so we were always kind of riding that line where we were mostly not making it. So you were always at some point maybe acquiring a little debt or just always on that line. And the medical is the thing that... it really, it did, it shook us. I mean, it was one of those things where when you're riding that line and at any point you can kind of go underwater the unexpected can happen. I mean, you get in a mindset where... yeah, I think being a young family, you don't anticipate all the things that can happen, especially. So I actually have, I have four kids at the moment. They're 10 and under. When we were acquiring that medical debt, obviously we had different ages and things like that. And you think you're healthy, you think a high deductible plan is okay. And you just don't understand what can happen. And so, "shook" is the right word because we actually had two years where we hit our family max and that will do it to you. When you're at that point where at any point you can go underwater and then you start rapidly drowning. It affects you.

Adam Walker: Yeah. I can only imagine. And that's tough. So since working with MMI... I mean, again, I said it earlier, but man, we got to repeat this over and over. You've paid off $30,000 and increased your credit score by a hundred points, and you did that in a year and a half. Which, in my mind, basically makes you Superman. So how did getting personalized debt management plan... how did that help you balance your budget and see a path forward?

Jarred Butler: Without MMI, I don't... I'm not sure what we would've did. I mean, I think for us, kind of going back to where that was. I mean, when you... it was actually, we were at $32,000. And it's one of those things where when you see those numbers and you start seeing minimums, and that your minimums aren't doing anything because interest is eating it. And you look at statements where it says, Oh, you'll pay this off... if you pay the minimum, you'll pay this off in 40 years. Or this. And you'll have paid five times what your balance is like these kind of things. You reach the point where you really feel imprisoned and you realize, okay, I don't know if I can dig out of this. And so, you reach such a breaking point. I mean, it created that tension in our marriage because not like we were on different pages, but you just have that weight on your shoulders constantly. And so for us, finding MMI, which was kind of crazy. We actually, we met with a financial counselor because it was just like, might as well, let's get somebody else to look at it and see. Even their response was kind of like, you may need to claim bankruptcy... or, how many jobs can you take on?

It was like that. I mean, the numbers didn't add up. I feel like there's that scene in The Office where it's like, Can you crunch the numbers again? And I'm like... can you crunch them again? Because we're... we don't have options. I mean, it was that moment. And so we, I actually reached out to one of the credit card companies and I kind of had that moment where I was like, I don't know what to do. Like I... what does bankruptcy look like? What can we do in this situation? Because I'm not making it. I mean, I do have, I have a lot of kids. So yes, I could take additional jobs, but it would affect the family. And they actually referred me. They said we have this, this contact you can reach out to. And I was... I called and I was kind of, I was skeptical cause I'd never heard of something like this. And I was really surprised. I mean, they were very, first of all, they were very empathetic. That was probably the first thing I noticed where it, the credit card companies you call in, it's well, you owe us money.

It's almost like a me versus them. And it's reps and you don't get that sense of they're looking out for you. Calling MMI really was somebody who was like, ready to champion for me. And so, I think that entire process was just such a... surprising to find out that existed and there seemed to be a company that cared about me. And kind of back to your original thing of how did having that specialized plan help with my my budgeting and help me dig out? I think just knowing I had somebody that broke it down saying, you're going to be able to dig out, was pretty mind blowing to me. Because nobody else said I could do that. Everybody else, it was that's impossible. We can't do that. So having that there was kind of just an encouragement along the way. I mean, seeing the plan, obviously, the accounts were closed so I couldn't accrue more debt, which was helpful. But then knowing that payment was actually making a difference. was such a big deal.

Knowing that it was a big chunk. I mean, it's funny because even when you consider what can you cut to get out of debt? That's kind of like what people save when you buy a house. Can you stop Starbucks or Cable and this? And I'm like, that's kind of funny. But I don't spend I don't realize, I don't think you've realize how much I've cut. I mean, we're, we've trimmed the fat and we're down to nothing at this point. And so to see though... we were able to trim and make that payment and just to know the significance of what that payment was doing was such an encouraging thing. And it, yeah, to help our budget, I mean, it... we knew if we could accomplish our budget and make that payment, we were going to be okay. And so, MMI really laying that out and having that foundation and being able to log. I mean, that was one of those things... logging in and seeing the progress. I mean, it was a game changer for us.

Adam Walker: Yeah. I mean, and you went... I mean, as you said earlier, like you, you're looking at the state. The statements say, if you pay the minimum, you'll pay it off in 40 years. And you went from paid off in 40 years and not... and sinking every month to paying it off in a year and a half. Which, I mean, again, like that's the Superman, like that's amazing. Just genuinely amazing. So, all right. So I want to ask, what was your credit counseling experience with MMI like? What would you say your biggest lesson from the whole process?

Jarred Butler: Yeah, and I kind of touched a little bit on that of like our experience of getting plugged in. Kind of those first interactions. I think back to those interactions, it was, from the beginning to the end, it really, they... and I don't want to say treated me like family, but there was that sense of like they cared. And that really was something I never experienced when it came to working with somebody of a financial service. I think most places who are helping with finances, it's very cut and dry. It's either you make enough, you don't, this is what you can do. I mean, it's very cut and dry and I appreciated the encouragement, I think from the beginning, one of the biggest things was just not feeling guilty. I mean, they didn't make me feel guilty for... I did something wrong and I accrued this dad and Yeah, yeah, it's true. I know... it was the decisions I made led to that, but it, that wasn't their narrative. That wasn't even, their coaching at any point was always from a place of... I mean once they determine they can help you, they're all on board.

They're all willing to help you and encourage you. And from the beginning to even just the end, that final call for payoff. We were fortunate, there were things with stimulus and things like that helped us. But even being in that program, we were scraping for every single thing we could to be like, let's pay it off. You feel that. It creates that hunger and that desire and so, experience-wise, it was so smooth. I mean, I think from the beginning talking to representatives and just throughout the process, any questions we were always able to call, get ahold of people. And then even that final step of calling to pay off was... it was a celebration. I mean, it was a true they were like, Congratulations, like you did it. It was, it was such a cool experience, I think, from beginning to end to kind of have them on my side and really just advocating for me to reach my goals.

Adam Walker: Man, I love that. That's so great. So debt is, I mean, obviously super common. But we don't really talk about it, which I guess is part of why we do talk about it on this podcast. I mean, how do you think debt counseling nonprofits like MMI helped to sort of break that debt stigma?

Jarred Butler: Yeah, I mean, I think kind of even what I was saying of they don't....they don't attach the guilt to it. I think many times I think people don't want to talk about it because they feel like they're alone. They feel like there's not many other people that could probably have that much debt. Even though, I mean, it is one of these topics people know like how much debt? It's almost like how much debt do you have? Oh, you have that much, I this much. You could probably have those conversations because it's a common thing. But they really do well of kind of breaking the guilt that's attached to that. And then are just willing to coach and provide help along the way. I think their approach is great. I mean, I think at some point you see these... almost like on gambling commercials, there's a disclaimer that's if you have a problem with gambling, reach out to this. And I mean, I feel like with credit card commercials, it needs to be this, Hey, if you have a problem with debt, reach out to Money Management International, because it really, to me, is really that lifeline. It's really a help and support that needs to be attached to it because the service they provide is unbelievably like life changing.

Adam Walker: Yeah, absolutely. That's fantastic. So, all right, Jarred, this is great. So impressed with what you've been able to do in such a short amount of time. Last question. What does freedom from debt look like for you?

Jarred Butler: Yeah, I think... I mean, the clear answer to that is obviously not having balances that you can't manage. But just even on a deeper level, not having that weight of debt, not having that the feeling of being in that prison and really the hold it has over you. I think even, probably one of the biggest successes for me with using MMI was my change in mindset. It really broke the way I think about debt, the way I spend money, the way... having that freedom of even like my payments, really breaking it down and me seeing that created that freedom for me and how I spend my money and how debt doesn't have a hold over me. Because like you said, if you refer to that statement, or the credit card statement and it tells you. How long it will take for you not to get out of debt. That's kind of what it is. Knowing, like that is the opposite, that's the. That is your imprisonment to debt, where MMI is almost the opposite in... they're providing that freedom, they're providing the sense of freedom and it really just changed my mindset and how I function. So the freedom, obviously not having a balance is that's freedom for sure. But having the even, I mean with my wife and I having that unity and how we think about money and spend money, that's freedom right there.

Adam Walker: Yeah, that is freedom right there. Well, Jarred again, just so impressed with what you've been able to do. Thank you for taking the time to share your story with us and hopefully to inspire many of us.

Jarred Butler: Absolutely. I appreciate it. Thank you much.

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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