Long Story $hort: Season 2, Episode 3

Making the Necessary Sacrifices to Get to Her Dream Life

When Brittney Roberson’s evening side hustles weren’t tackling her credit card debt effectively, her mom suggested she contact Money Management International. Working with the credit counselors at MMI, Brittney made a big sacrifice — moving back home to live with her mom — to decrease her monthly expenses.

Those sacrifices paid off, as Brittney was able to eliminate $57,000 of credit card debt in just over 2.5 years. Now living in her “promised land” in Charlotte, North Carolina, Brittney is free of debt and free to travel the world and give to her chosen causes.

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Show Notes

  • Guest: Brittney Roberson
  • Host: Adam Walker
  • Publication Date: April 4, 2023


1:40 | Brittney explains why she calls Charlotte, North Carolina her "promised land."

2:43 | Brittney talks about her experience with a debt management plan and the benefits of having a solid structure to follow.

3:54 | Brittney talks about working extra jobs to pay her debt, but struggling with high interest rates.

6:25 | Adam and Brittney discuss making short-term sacrifices for your long-term wellbeing.

8:51 | Brittney explains how working with MMI helped bring down her stress levels.

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 peoples 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 Brittney Roberson. Brittney lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. While working with the debt relief counselors at Money Management International, Brittney paid off $57,000 of credit card debt in just over two and a half years. She also increased her credit score by 80 points along the way. Here today to share her story of her debt payoff is Brittney Roberson. Brittney, welcome to the show!

Brittney Roberson: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. It's a pleasure to be here.

Adam Walker: I'm excited to hear your story and our listeners can't see your smile, but just so y'all know, Britteny's got a giant smile and I'd be smiling too if I had accomplished such an amazing feat. So let's start with a little more about you. Can you just tell us, where you live, what you do for work, what's your life look like?

Brittney Roberson: Okay, so I am currently located in Charlotte, North Carolina. I recently moved here six months ago from St. Louis, Missouri, and I am loving it because I am living my dream. I call Charlotte, North Carolina, my promised land. So I'm so glad to be here. And currently I am working as a clinical research associate and I am responsible for coordinating and basically overseeing the execution of the clinical trials that I'm assigned to. And so I spend a lot of my free time just reading and researching and traveling.

Adam Walker: That sounds pretty fantastic and, that sounds like a really fascinating job. We might have to talk more about that one later. So, so, alright, so, since you started working with MMI, like I mentioned in the intro, you've paid off $57,000 in debt. You've increased your credit score by 80 points. You did all that in two and a half years, which is a, just monumental feat. How did getting a personalized debt management program help balance your budget and help you see a path forward?

Brittney Roberson: It helped out tremendously. Honestly, I feel like when you don't have a plan, like they say, you plan to fail. So just having that plan and having that budget allowed me to stick to the execution that I was going to hit every single month and the target that I was going to hit every month.

And then, as you know, with MMI, they took out one big payment instead of me having to pay different credit card companies every single month. So that took a lot of stress off of me, and allowed me to also reduce my interest rate for the credit card companies that I was paying out a lot of interest. So I tried to do things in my own hand and it, it just wasn't working. So just having that target and being able to see what I needed to do and how long it's gonna take me to get there, gave me a better picture of what I needed to do, and also gave me a better picture of how I can also reduce the timeline.

Adam Walker: So I like how you talked about working with MMI to have that sort of, that one monthly payment that was easier for you to manage. Tell me about the process of working with MMI to determine what that monthly payment was and sort of how that all works.

Brittney Roberson: Yeah, so it was actually not bad at all, and I would just tell you how I got into it. Because I tried to do this thing on my own for a good two years, and so I was struggling and working for Postmates and DoorDash and Amazon Flex for-, from like 4:00 PM to like midnight Monday through Friday. And so, yeah, I was a real hustler and a go-getter and trying to just pay extra, you know, I would just use-, put the extra money into a savings account and then dump it on there in order to pay off the credit cards. But, as you know, with interest, especially with credit cards, when the interest is 22 to 26 APR, that can get really, really pricey really fast.

Adam Walker: Yeah.

Brittney Roberson: And so no matter what I feel like I did, I feel like no matter how much I worked, it wasn't just really paying off the way I really needed it to pay off. So I really had to have an honest conversation, with my mom and you know, I didn't wanna do it, cuz like I said, I didn't even tell her, but she suggested that I get into a program like this. So if it wasn't for my mom, I would've never had the opportunity to get into a program like this. And so-, and then I moved also back home. At the time I was living in Overland Park, Kansas. And so I moved back home to St. Louis, Missouri to also just reduce the amount of overhead bills that I was paying.

And so, just going through the process, going through the budget spreadsheet, just knowing what amount of bills that I pay, whether they were reoccurring and whether they were variable bills, helped me to understand what did I need to like cut out and what did I need to kind of reduce and everything of that nature. And also, like I said, staying at home, it was a blow to me, cause I love Kansas. Shout out to the Kansas City Chiefs that just won the Super Bowl. But I really love Kansas and I didn't want to leave, but I realized, like I said, when you know where you have to go, you have to make sacrifices in order to get to certain places in life. And so I had to make that temporary adjustment because I knew I wanted to get to North Carolina as well, so yeah.

Adam Walker: Yeah, you do. You have to make sacrifices to get to where you want to go, and that, that's a really, a really great and important perspective. So, so tell me, what was it like working with the credit counseling at MMI? Would you say that-, and what would you say, kind of your biggest lesson was from that process?

Brittney Roberson: Do it sooner. I would say do it sooner. I wish I would have done it sooner, a lot sooner. It was very smooth sailing once we got the payment started. It wasn't a lot of expenses or fees from my end. Cuz like I said, if you try to do this on your own, you will be paying a lot of expenses and fees. Especially, like I said, with the interest that is accruing. However, just paying that one monthly payment and then, I didn't also mention this, but I also switched my career. Well, my job within my career field in order to make more money.

So it was just things that I did to, in order to just strategize and figure out how I can maximize my money to pay off the debt. And so they were, they allowed me to pay extra payments with no penalty. And so that was another blessing from the program as well, because a lot of programs will tell you, you have five years to pay this off and there's a prepayment penalty. However MMI did not have a prepayment penalty. So if you were able to pay the full amount off within a certain amount of time, you were able to do that.

Adam Walker: Wow.

Brittney Roberson: And that's what I did.

Adam Walker: That's fantastic. And I, I love what you said, like just start sooner. Just start like sooner. Immediately. Start immediately, right? As soon as you realize.

Brittney Roberson: Yeah. Yeah. Because I think in our head we're like, okay, I have this, I have this under control, and I'm going to get it. I'm going to get it. And it just keeps, you know, racking up and racking up…

Adam Walker: Yeah.

Brittney Roberson: due to interest that is accruing. And so I just really advise people if you can do something that will help you minimize the debt and the interest, do that sooner.

Adam Walker: Yeah. I mean, absolutely. Absolutely. So, so talk a little bit about your stress level during this whole process. Like, so you said, you know, and I'm speculating, but you said, you know, you were working until I think four, and then you're working from four until midnight and you're not making it work. Then you get in with MMI, it's one payment. Like, like talk about the trajectory of your stress during that whole time and maybe sort of where it is now.

Brittney Roberson: Oh my gosh. So my stress level, in the very beginning when I was doing it on my own, I was very stressed, because I was, didn't even tell anybody. So it's, it's something when you're doing your deeds in the secret basically, and you're trying to make everything work on your own.

And that's another lesson I learned as well, just share something with somebody as well, because they may be able to help you. But in regards to what specifically, that my stress level- In regards to specifically my stress level, yeah, so I was, like I said, working from, you know, 4:00 PM to 12 midnight, just trying to make extra cash and then waking up, you know, every morning looking at my phone, hoping that I would get tips, you know, from the certain apps and things of that nature.

And so, I'm just glad that when I switched over to the program that I didn't, I no longer had to do that anymore. And then also moving home as well, because, I mean, even though I did have to pay a certain amount of rent for a living with my mom, it wasn't nearly as, the amount of, you know, rent, cable, gas, electric, all the utilities that come with living on your own. And so that was cut down tremendously. So that took a lot of pressure off of me.

And I also created a spreadsheet or a tracker, and I literally documented the amount of debt that I eliminated per month. So seeing that amount of debt that I had a chance to eliminate every month, it just gave me a burst of energy and a burst of motivation to keep pursuing every single thing that I was going after and just to keep going after it and go after it harder.

Adam Walker: That's great. That's great. All right, so, so consumer debt is super common, but we don't really talk about it. How do you think debt counseling nonprofits like MMI helped to break that debt stigma? And what are some other ways that you think we can sort of begin to break that debt stigma as a society.

Brittney Roberson: Yeah, I don't, and I realize it's really true and I feel like a lot of people are afraid to talk about it because it's like a sense of embarrassment. Because it's like, shows a sense of, lack of stewardship or mismanagement of your money or your funds. But that may not necessarily be the case all the time. Some people come into hard situations as we understand the current economy that we are in, that inflation is rising. Jobs are being cut every single day, we hear it on the news and just things are happening that are beyond our control. However, I think if we normalize the conversation that you can get help. There are people here to help you and there are nonprofit agencies like MMI, that can help you and not come off in a spammy way.

Adam Walker: Yeah.

Brittney Roberson: So I believe that's what turns a lot of people off. Even with me, if I get a piece of mail that says, Hey, you know, I can help you pay off $70,000 worth of debt. I'm not gonna lie, I immediately throw it away.

Adam Walker: Yeah.

Brittney Roberson: And so I believe it's important to change the tone of the messaging and to change the connection of the messaging. So I think this is a really good way that MMI is doing it, by helping people share their story via podcasting, via blogs, via social media. Anyway, so people can know there are different avenues instead of people just struggling out there trying to do it on their own.

Adam Walker: That's right, that's right. There's a lot of power in doing this together, collaborating with other people that have been there before, and that's, that's part of why you're sharing your story, right? To help others.

Brittney Roberson: Yes.

Adam Walker: So, and we appreciate it so much. Alright, so, so last question, Britteny. What does freedom from debt look like for you?

Brittney Roberson: Number one, no stress. Like I said, being in debt is stressful, because you know that you have certain limits that you have to stay in. It's like, can I do this? Can I buy this? Can I go this place? Can I, go on this vacation? Like I said, I love to travel.

Adam Walker: Yeah.

Brittney Roberson: So it's like, can I afford this vacation right now? Is it feasible? Is it in my budget? So not having debt, allows you to have that option to put more money aside to go on vacations and to do the things that you really enjoy that actually feed your soul instead of feeding the creditors. And then number two, it gives me the opportunity to sow seeds, to reap a harvest. I am a big giver. I love giving to my churches that pour into me, and different missions and different projects. So that also gives me the opportunity to sow into the kingdom, like I said.

So I am grateful when I just have the opportunity to not be tied down by any debt, because then I, if anybody asks for a seed or a offering, I'm able to give it freely and like, not have to think, oh, I have something to pay, or I have something that, another obligation that I have to give at the moment. So I love giving.

Adam Walker: That's such a great perspective and very refreshing. I really appreciate you sharing that. I mean, you've got freedom. Freedom to travel, freedom to do, but even more importantly, freedom to give, freedom to support other people that might need the support. So that's, that's really amazing. So congrats for that. Well, Britteny man, your story is amazing. I'll just say it again for our listeners cuz it's so impressive. $57,000. And an increase in credit score in 80 points in two and a half years. Britteny, you are an inspiration. Thank you for joining us on the show today.

Brittney Roberson: Thank you so much for having me. It was a pleasure.

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. Script writing and production by Clara Jennings, editing by Brandon Ellis and show hosting by me, Adam Walker.

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