Long Story $hort: Season 3, Episode 8

Navigating Life and Debt on a Tight Budget

Michael McKeaney is no stranger to debt, having gone into it multiple times in his life. However, during his second round of attempting to pay it off, Michael reached out to MMI in hopes of finding an easier way to reach his goal.

With the help of MMI, Michael was able to pay off around $40,000 in just under five years and increase his credit score by 120 points. Now, Michael is able to regularly contribute to his savings while living debt-free.

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Michael McKeaney Long Story $hort podcast.

Show Notes

  • Guest: Michael McKeaney
  • Host: Adam Walker
  • Publication Date: February 13, 2024


1:46 | Michael shares his history with credit cards and how his bill got too large to handle.

3:51 | Michael talks about some of the difficult changes he had to navigate while paying down his debts.

4:41 | Michael explains some of the medical challenges he and his wife have experienced.

7:41 | Michael talks about life after debt and shares his plans for the future. 

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 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.

Today's guest is Michael McKeaney from Glenside, Pennsylvania. Michael discovered MMI after researching debt management options. And with the help of MMI, he was able to pay off around 40,000 dollars and increase his credit score by 120 points in under five years. Michael, welcome to the show.

Michael McKeaney: Thank you. Good to be here.

Adam Walker: Man, I'm glad to get to talk to you. Let's start with a little bit about you. I mean, tell us, we know your city, but who are you? And, what are you about? What are your days look like?

Michael McKeaney: I was born with cerebral palsy and got married about 14 years ago. Since we're talking about that, I did have some debt when I did meet my wife, but it just gradually grew.

I've really only had three jobs in my life. I worked at a grocery store for 16 years and at the Pennsylvania Turnpike for about eight and a half years until I was laid off during the pandemic. And, I found a job working at a small company close to home, does not pay as much as the turnpike, but it's study work.

Adam Walker: That's good I'm glad you've got some study work right now and you mentioned that you had some debt before you met your wife. Could you tell us a little bit about sort of your debt story? What was the debt from? You know some of that stuff.

Michael McKeaney: When I was 18, 19 years old I got my first credit card and I was paying it off every month and then came one big 2,500 dollar charge and I just was not able to pay it down and I was spending money that I shouldn't have and it just got too much.

Adam Walker: Gotcha. And when you said it, it just got too much. So at what point did you realize it was too much?

Michael McKeaney: I did have a sizable debt before the debt that Money Management helped me with and I was able to negotiate with the credit card company in probably about 2004, 2005. And once that was cleared, it just started up again and I was spending money on frivolous things, I should not have been spending money on and it just got out of control.

Adam Walker: And so having, having gone through that before, and then it got out of control and then getting this debt under control, again, so now you've gone through this a couple of times. Do you have a plan in place to make sure that you don't end up back in debt or it doesn't get out of control again?

Michael McKeaney: As of right now, I do not have a credit card. That is something that I'm looking into, but I just have to spend more wisely and save my money. When I called Money Management, I had called, at first I had called a different company and my dad looked through the contract with me and said, "this is not good." And we had about three days to cancel that contract. And we called Money Management and they were able to negotiate with these credit card companies and pretty much cut my interest rate in half. Worked out a budget and I just had to cut up my cards. I had no credit cards for five years while, almost five years while I was with Money Management. I could do that now, but I am looking into the right situation.

Adam Walker: Gotcha. Okay. Talk to me about what was it like, being on a budget, making sure you're making a monthly payment, not having credit cards during those five years. What was that like?

Michael McKeaney: It was a little stressful, I did not go out or eat out as much as I did before or go to concerts and baseball games and football games in Philadelphia, I was, probably went from going maybe five, 10 times a year to down to just once because I just couldn't afford it and eating at home a lot more and that helped save me money. And I was paying when the pandemic hit and I lost my job. I did call Money Management back and see what I could do. And I did end up having to take a little bit out of my savings to pay this, but I got it paid off. And now that I have paid it off, I am starting to build savings back with my life savings.

Adam Walker: That's fantastic. Congrats on that. Yeah, that's so important. So, tell me a little bit about what it was like working with Money Management International.

Michael McKeaney: It was, it was easy. I mean, I answered every question that they had as best as I could. We worked out a budget. They asked me what I made a month and what my income was. Then they had to get a talk to the credit card company and worked out a interest rate that was lower, but also afforded me the opportunity to still live while paying down this debt. And when I found, I reached out to my dad before I called Money Management and I was just thinking I might have to file for bankruptcy or something or I don't know. Because it's just, I had maxed out four or five cards. The payments, the minimum payments were pretty much as I was making at the time. I needed help and I got the help. I also have a wife who has epilepsy and she has had many trips to the emergency room. I myself actually do have epilepsy. I've had two seizures within the last four years. But I'm on medication and have not had one since. We had to factor in those medical costs, the medications that were on into our budget.

But thankfully, my health insurance with my previous employer was very good and helped us out through my wife's surgeries. But, if not, then my debt would have been probably higher.

Adam Walker: So now, looking back, you had debt, you paid off that debt. You ended up in debt again. You paid that debt off. How does it feel? How does it feel to have paid off that debt, to be free of that?

Michael McKeaney: It feels good. I hope I never am in that position again.

Again, prices have gone up in the last couple of years, and we're still in that mode of maybe not spending as much as we were just to still budget in all that life has to give us with medications and just paying our monthly bills.

I do not think I talked to one specific person at MMI like each time, but everybody who did, I talked to. Everybody that I talked to was very helpful, very nice, very upbeat, I guess would be a good word.

Adam Walker: How did they make you feel when you talked to them? Michael McKeaney: Relieved, because most of the time that I called, I was getting stressed out because money was getting tight a few days before my payday or my wife wound up in a hospital and we had to pay the co-pays and this and that testing.

But, everybody just made me feel at ease and watching it, getting the bill and watching that balance go down every month. And when it finally got to about maybe six months through the payoff date, I was feeling very confident.

Adam Walker: That's gotta be a great feeling. So then last question for you, Michael. You hit that payoff date, got $40,000 out of debt over five years. What does freedom from debt look like for you?

Michael McKeaney: There are a few things that I would like to do, but, I still need to put that money away in savings, but I'm just going to use my credit more wisely. In the future, when I do come to that point, there is somebody that I've talked to that sort of teaches credit. I haven't really discussed anything with them, but I might do that. Just, there are things that I want to do, and I just haven't been able to do them because I was in debt so bad.

Adam Walker: You got a lot more options now, which is fantastic. Michael, this has been great. I really appreciate you sharing your story with us and thank you for joining us on the show today.

Michael McKeaney: Thank you.

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.com. 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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