Long Story $hort: Season 2, Episode 6

When Paige Was Overwhelmed, MMI Was Her Advocate

When Paige Demontigny helped a family member pay for necessary but expensive name-brand prescriptions, she amassed unmanageable credit card debt. Paige's bank suggested contacting MMI for help. The debt relief counselors at Money Management International advocated on Paige's behalf by contacting her creditors and negotiating interest rates.

With discipline and MMI's advocacy, Paige paid off $24,000 of credit card debt in just over 4.5 years.

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Paige Demontigny Long Story $hort.

Show Notes

  • Guest: Paige Demontigny
  • Host: Adam Walker
  • Publication Date: May 16, 2023


3:03 | Paige explains how a family member's $5,000 a month prescription medication left her deep in debt. 

6:54 | Paige talks through how she heard about MMI and her experience working MMI's team of counselors.

9:29 | Paige talks about how consolidating debts into a single monthly payment helped create a sense of real progress.

11:01 | Adam and Paige discuss how working with a nonprofit like MMI can help take off some of the pressure when repaying debt.

13:46 | Paige talks about how freedom from debt has finally allowed her to start planning 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 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 Paige Demontigny. Paige lives in Barrington, Rhode Island, which is just outside of Providence. While working with the debt relief counselors at Money Management International, Paige paid off $24,000 of credit card debt in just over four and a half years. Here today to share more about her debt payoff story is Paige.

Paige, welcome to the show!

Paige Demontigny: Hi. Thank you. Nice to meet you.

Adam Walker: I'm excited to talk to you about this. It's such a staggering number in such a short amount of time. But let's start with, let's not start with that. Let's start with you. Tell us a little bit more about you, where you're at, what you do, what do your days look like?

Paige Demontigny: Sure, I am a social worker by trade. I am, did a lot of clinical work for I'd say most of my career, and I am currently, actually a product developer with CVS Health. So I kind of jumped careers in the last, I'd say, I don't know, five to seven years, into something kind of much broader and bigger.

I'm also a mother of one. I have a five-year-old and a husband who is an artist, and we live in Rhode Island and are very much New England people. Outside beach in summertime and hopping in the snow in the wintertime. So its just, that's a little bit about me.

Adam Walker: I'm glad you defined what New England people were, because like you said that, and I was like, I need to know what that means.

I don't understand that, but that's right. I mean, outside in the beach, in the snow, that, that sounds like a pretty, pretty amazing lifestyle.

Paige Demontigny: Yeah. Balance, right?

Adam Walker: Yeah. I mean, as someone that lives in a part of the world that gets no snow, I kind of, like, I'm a little jealous. I'm not gonna lie.

So I would like to get a little snow upon occasion, so. All right, so the situation that brought you to MMI was not because you were spending on non-essentials, but it was medical bills from a family member's illness and you got into the cycle of using credit cards and using that for quick fixes.

Can you tell us a little bit more about sort of how that progression happened?

Paige Demontigny: Sure. So, as I said, I was a social worker before, so payment in mental, in mental health work and nonprofit work is generally on the lower side. Little rough, you know, reality of life. My husband and I both were working in the mental health field at that time.

And a family member's medication for their condition was basically costing us $5,000 a month. It was a brand name medication that didn't have a generic alternative and was going to be kind of gate kept for the first 10 years of its genesis to not have a generic alternative. So we were left with the decision to get the care that our family member needed-

Adam Walker: Yeah.

Paige Demontigny: and pay this amount, even with insurance or you know have my family member be in pain. So we decided to, work our way to get to the point where we, like paid off, I don't know, got the medication up to the deductible point and then it would be covered for the rest of the time period that, we needed to for the year, but every year it would refresh and every year we would have to put that deductible onto a credit card and then try to catch up and pay it down. So it became unmanageable very quickly.

Adam Walker: Wow. So, you know, when you, when you said, I kind of knew where you were going. Like you had a family member, they're on prescription medication, and my brain immediately went to like, oh, it's gonna be a thousand dollars a month, which is just so unmanageable. And then you said 5,000 a month. And like, I just, I mean, I'm honestly-

Paige Demontigny: It's a real, it's a real nasty number. Punch in the gut.

Adam Walker: I'm literally speechless. Like I don't even-

Wow. I mean, my goodness. All right. So, so that's, I mean, that's a pretty easy way to get into a lot of debt. Was there a specific moment where you realized that you needed outside help?

And like, tell us, well what was that like?

Paige Demontigny: I think, you know, when the debt became over, like the 10,000 mark. When it got into the double digits, it started to feel like a lot of pressure. You know, I still had student loans at that point, like, all the other parts of life, we were in a advantageous living situation where we didn't have too high of rent.

And like the, the day-to-day amenities were covered and we were still living life. I'm not gonna say we weren't, but we, we were, we're kind of like bargain basement kind of. We didn't live like the, you know, high on the hog or anything, but we, you know, when it became double digits, it became unmanageable and I started to look for solutions.

Like I think, I'm always like training wise, clinical wise, advocacy wise, I'm always gonna look for, what are the alternatives, what are the programs out there? What are the things that are really gonna tackle the biggest problem that's causing the most amount of stress, you know, for our family, and then in just in general. So, that was one of the methods I went to try to chase down some debt consolidation and debt management programs that would really get a handle on these things.

Cause I really, I didn't know where to turn at this point.

Adam Walker: Yeah. Yeah. I mean that's, that's such a common story of people that just don't know where to turn. I mean, it's part of why we're doing this is to share, that there's, there are places to turn and there are ways to get help. So, alright. So, so you did, you went, you worked with MMI. Since working with MMI you paid off, I mean, again, just to reiterate, $24,000 in four and a half years.

How did getting a personalized debt management plan help you balance your budget and see that path forward?

Paige Demontigny: MMI was great. So when we, it was initially suggested through our bank and that was like the first resource that they had like, connected us to for debt consolidation. And I did the initial interview and just like conversation with a customer service representative, and everybody I've spoken to through MMI, whether like I had any sort of digital communication or on the phone communication, was most of the time that I spoke to somebody in customer service, they were very, very helpful. There was no judgment. There was no like, oh, you know, you should be doing this. There was no pressure in the conversation. It was more just a dialogue about, okay, this is where you are. These are the things I suggest for the consolidation of your specific debt. I'm gonna make, I'm gonna outreach your, the credit card companies and see what kind of negotiation points that we can get back from them.

And then we'll be the consolidation point so that all of your payments go through us and I don't have to like, go to all these disparate people and like plead my case and then become more overwhelmed than I already am. So it really helped as a, like a focus point. And then from there, working with them to, to take the chunks of debt, like little by little, even while still having like the big ticket medical item, like still adding up.

So like, it felt like, I had a consolidation point and somebody I could turn to, to say, okay, like I still will have more medical debt. Like, what should I be doing? How should I be focusing this? How should I be budgeting for this? So they really helped with that.

Adam Walker: So, yeah, so, and I think you alluded this, like they, if I'm understanding correctly, worked with your credit card companies to get a rate that is manageable to pay it off and then you pay them the fixed amount per month for set amount of time and then they take care of all the rest from there.

So it's sort of simplified everything from you both from the, like negotiating with a whole bunch of different parties and in the paying a whole bunch of different parties, right?

Paige Demontigny: That's right. Yep.

Adam Walker: Well, that sounds, so I'm curious, like, how did that feel? I mean, like when, like when you, because when you're paying a whole bunch of different parties and there's high interest rates and all that stuff, versus when you've got a set plan and someone's sort of negotiating on your behalf.

Like, what was the difference in your life? How did you feel differently during that time?

Paige Demontigny: I think it gave, it made me feel more proactive. What I was doing before with like balance, like hopping balance transfers and like having a set amount of time to work within that time to pay stuff off, full well knowing I didn't have the income to sustain that. Like, it just felt like I was putting a bandaid on an open wound. So this felt more like a, this is like an actual plan. I have somebody else in my corner really trying to, help organize me, and deal with some of the advocacy on my behalf.

Like I think when anybody's in any sort of trouble, financial trouble, or any sort of trouble, they want somebody that they can hand something to and say, I need you to take this on for me. I can do like a lot of the active part, but I need you to take like 15% of the work and like, because you specialize in it and like, do the negotiation portion for me, because I may not be skilled enough to know what to say to credit card companies to get them to convince them that I need a lower interest rate to pay off.

Like I need a, I need a, a second, I need an advocate. I need somebody like a company to be like, Hey, we got her, like we'll shepherd her through this process.

Adam Walker: Yeah. I mean, it feels like you're still sort of, sort of powering the engine that is like your financial, you know, whatever. They're just sort of guiding the direction a little more directly.

Right? And kinda becoming almost like a, almost like a navigator in a way. Right?

Paige Demontigny: Yeah.

Adam Walker: Yeah.

Paige Demontigny: Yeah, definitely.

Adam Walker: Okay. I mean, that sounds like that would take off a good bit of pressure, so, that, that's, I mean, and obviously it was successful because,

Paige Demontigny: Yeah!

Adam Walker: here we are talking about your success story, which congratulations to you for being successful in that.

Paige Demontigny: Thank you!

It's nice, it's nice to be successful in that.

Adam Walker: I mean, it is! It's really, it's really a profound accomplishment and, it's one that unfortunately is not nearly celebrated enough. But that's what we're trying to do. We're trying to celebrate that. So, let's talk a little bit just about like, the debt stigma, right?

There's always a fear of talking about debt to friends or to loved ones or coming on a podcast and talking about it, which obviously you have overcome. Like how, like how do you think about the debt stigma? How has, how did debt counseling services like MMI helped to break that debt stigma?

Paige Demontigny: I think this country in particular, we live, we live a certain way, right? Like so, we are taught to not talk about our salaries. We're not, we can't talk about debt, we can't talk about our feelings, we can't talk about a lot of things. Like there are a lot of things that are, suppressed. And of course that causes massive amounts of stress internally.

And you're gonna like explode in one place or another. Like, whether that's just like feeling massive amounts of shame, or just being unable to sustain your activities of daily life. So, like it's coming out one way or another, we have to be more open about how we talk about it, how we deal with it.

There has to be more resources that are accessible without any sort of fee structure. And so like, podcasts you know, social media, all of those things like multiple formats that are, you know, available to people in varied levels of communication. So, you know, maybe people don't ingest information reading it.

Maybe they need visual and then, maybe they need somebody to, again, guide them through the entire process.

Adam Walker: Right.

Paige Demontigny: There have to be, all of these resources at all accessibility points, and I'm a believer in that and like I, if I put that sort of mindset out into the community for like my patients that I used to see, like I have to accept that as myself. And it was harder to accept for myself, than it was to, advice I would give someone else, of course. Right? Like, you know.

Adam Walker: Yeah. It's easy to say you should do this. It's a lot harder to say, I will do this.

Paige Demontigny: Right, right.

Adam Walker: But you did. You did. Right? You did. That's why we're celebrating. You did this, and it's such, such a great accomplishment.

Well, all right, so, Paige, last question and maybe the most important question. What does freedom from debt look like for you?

Paige Demontigny: You know, I think that, it put a massive amount of stress on me. And freedom from debt feels like I can plan for the future and don't have like the shadow on the back, you know, just saying like, no, like you have to think about like all of the things that you left behind.

Like it really helps me look forward. It helps me look forward to like the investments in life that we're making. I, again, I have a young son, you know, all of the things that are coming in, you know, in the future for him. And I think what the process has helped me do is really focus on how to manage a budget, how to access resources for debt management and debt consolidation.

And like that there are services out there that can help you. It doesn't have to feel overwhelming. So if I ever get into that situation in the future, and it could happen. Like, it doesn't have to be starting from square one again.

Adam Walker: Yeah, that's right. That's right. That's right. It doesn't have to be like that.

That's right. Well, again, Paige, I mean, just so great. I really appreciate you joining us on the show today to share your story, to inspire so many other people. And just thanks for, thanks for being a part of this show.

Paige Demontigny: Hey, thanks. Thanks for the invite.

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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