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Journey with Miller & Miller Getting Rid of Debt through Debt Negotiation
Episode 112nd August 2023 • The Miller Law Chronicles • Attorney James Miller
00:00:00 00:27:13

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Jamie Miller welcomes Christopher Hendricks to discuss using debt negotiation to resolve $20-$30k of credit card and other debt accumulated while caring for his ill father. Negotiating settlements of 50% allowed Chris to make affordable payments, improving his credit score from 605 to over 740 and enabling him to qualify for a mortgage to buy his dream home, demonstrating how debt negotiation can transform lives for the better. Don’t miss this new episode.


Journey with Miller & Miller getting rid of debt through Debt Negotiation

Jamie Miller: [:

And so we were able to help. Chris with debt negotiation and we ended up helping him get out of debt and setting him on a path to get his credit score to 720. During this podcast, Chris talks. About how he got into debt with having to move his father into his home with him suffering from PTSD issues when he was in the military.

ptcy or, I'm sorry, the debt [:

Chris is a great example of someone who's going to, at the end of the story, tell us a little bit exciting about things that are exciting about how he got his credit score to 720. And is now purchasing a home that he'd always dreamed of. So just great insight hope you enjoy it. And again, you know, we welcome you to The Miller Law Chronicles where we simplify the legal maze by giving you clarity and confidence as you go through the legal [00:02:00] process. And I really hope you enjoy this podcast with Chris. I really enjoyed spending time with him.

(Opening Sequence)

Jamie Miller: Hi, it's Attorney Jamie Miller with another episode of The Miller Law Chronicles. And today I'm really excited to have Chris Hendricks join me. Chris Hendricks is a client of Miller and Miller, and we offered him a service of debt negotiation.

And I wanted to kind of chat to him about his journey. On the type of debts that he was having problems with the solution that we found that found for him and where he's at now but Chris is here with us and I just like to welcome you and thank you so much for joining me in this very important podcast today.

Christopher Hendricks: Thank you for having me.

ms like we met with you, you [:

I'm curious, Chris, what was going on in your life? And I know no one intentionally gets debt. There's always a story behind the scenes. So tell me a little bit about your story and what happened and how you end up getting to the point where you needed assistance to deal with this debt.

to Sun Prairie, Wisconsin in:

I was managing it with work and some other things, but I wasn't getting ahead of it. I just kind of kept things rolling and revolving, and then eventually I had issues given prior service with the Marine Corps with post traumatic stress, and I found myself seeking out residential treatment in another facility.

And the issue was that I thought I had everything buttoned up. I was keeping a lot of things from my spouse, saying like, everything's fine. There's nothing to worry about. Little did she know that it was worse than what I anticipated and then what she also knew. And I didn't have everything on auto pay.

like, well, hey, you owe us [:

And then also just what were the outcomes going to be? There was nothing guaranteed. And so with that, I didn't really know what to do. So, I saw an ad for Miller Miller that they do debt consolidation, debt negotiation, different avenues of approach there, and on a blind call, I called up Miller Miller, talked with Tim, incredibly nice fellow, and started the process, and said, okay, what have you got, and I wasn't even fully transparent at that point, I just said, well, I've been sued by Bank of America and American Express, and I was sent over to Joe Cole.

se which were very favorable [:

Kind of the laundry list of debts that I had which were about four or five debts at the time and I was embarrassed myself, but he didn't in any way, shape, or form, kind of downplay what I was going through, or, you know, make me feel that I should be embarrassed about it. He said, this happens, life happens we're going to work through this, we'll take it step by step, and in a very calculated manner, he took everything, he took all the stress away from me.

Just because he assured me that, well this week I'm going to call this person, we're going to get this under away and keep me in the loop every step of the way, which was more than I could have ever asked for. And, at the end of the day not only did I not have stress, but you know, Joe reassured me. He said this is going to help you.

know, it'll hurt initially, [:

Jamie Miller: That's I appreciate you really the shout out for Tim and Joe that type of stuff really makes me feel good about the team that we've built. And I want to, I appreciate that so much. Because it, the people that we have have a lot of compassion and empathy. And when I have an opportunity to talk to someone like you, it just comes out and it's great.

That when you started, you had mentioned that your dad moved from Door County. What part of Door County was it? I'm just curious. I only ask because I love Door County.

Christopher Hendricks: So he lived in Surgeon Bay since the early 80s.

Jamie Miller: Right. And then.

Christopher Hendricks: Not either.

Jamie Miller: And so about what time, you know, we talked about Bank of America and American Express at what point did you realize that you were going to have a hard time paying that debt?

stopher Hendricks: Cause the [:

It'll take you years and years to get out of there, and I was just kind of like and in my head I'm calculating it to say that well I can take one at a time and then other issues you know started to materialize and it did not go well. So it was kind of a fool's errand for me to think that I could handle it all. And that everything was keeping not only that, but keeping it from my spouse.

Jamie Miller: Right.

Christopher Hendricks: It didn't, nothing worked out for the better in regards to doing that. And.

Miller: Were you employed in:

Christopher Hendricks: So I was actually doing federal contracts through cybersecurity, and then I also took on another job with the University of Wisconsin, [00:09:00] Madison as a garbage truck driver. And again, money was coming in, so there was no issues what was going on, but it was, you found yourself, you weren't able to do keep up with the payments, and even though I was making those payments, I was starting to forget things, you know, and starting to realize, like, there's other issues at play here, and that's where post traumatic stress came in.

And I don't blame it for that, that's just a unfortunate byproduct of what can come out of things, but I started to, you know, just kind of try to prioritize what I thought was the most important, but even that didn't work. And then having things where you think are auto pay, that was the final straw to where I missed two of them. And then. There was nothing to hide at that point.

Jamie Miller: Right. And you were working. And so were you paying the minimum payments at that time while you were employed? Or were you trying to pay a little bit more?

the others. And I was making [:

And I said. How long can I keep this up? You know is what I started to wonder and so I started to write everything down and kind of calculated out how long it would take to pay off and by my estimates. It still would have been about five years or more and it just wasn't sustainable because at the same time Because my wife didn't know she was like, well, we want to buy a bigger house. We want to do this and then there was other things that came up to where we have two kids and eventually, it just, you're starting to realize, like, you can't keep everything under your hat.

Jamie Miller: Right. And how old are your kids?

Christopher Hendricks: So I've got a 15 year old and a 5 year old.

ul. And you're, you know, as [:

Christopher Hendricks: It was just compiling and creating a complex problem into almost an impossible one as it felt. Just because you weren't really seeing the benefits of what you were doing. You're working hard, you're doing everything you can to pay these debts. And you can admit that, okay, I did this to myself, I understand that.

But at the same time, you're like, I can get out of it. You kept telling yourself that, almost lying to yourself, that you can get out of it. And then, eventually, the stress just keeps building. It wouldn't reduce. And I was saying, okay, as long as I can make it through this, I can get this one down, I can get that.

perpetual cycle of thinking [:

You know, and I said, nothing. I said, I'm just, you know, I'm, maybe I'm a little overworked. And she wasn't that foolish. She knew something was going on, but she just didn't know what.

Jamie Miller: And what was the, you know, kind of the straw that finally led you to reach out for help?

Christopher Hendricks: For which part, the post traumatic stress or the debt?

Jamie Miller: The debt, for the debt.

Christopher Hendricks: So that's when I got sued. Initially when there was a suit filed through Bank of America, they were the first ones. And I said, okay, now things get, became much more clear in reality about that you couldn't make it. And it was, you know, so she saw the summons and she said, is this it?

re might be another one and, [:

And so then I said, I got to get ahead of it. And so I said, I'll start with the ones that are active. And that's where I told Joe and I wasn't fully honest with them, but all the ones that were coming out there. But he very, very quickly. You know, got some negotiations underway and we're able to resolve Bank of America and American Express within a few months.

And then when I came fully open with him and he said. Okay, and we'll put it step by step and we'll break things down and see how we can work this out. And that's how it took all that stress away just because he made it seem much more achievable to become debt free. You know, to settle the debts and at no point did he say to me, like, well, you've done this to yourself.

going to feel the punishment [:

And he said, be honest with me. Just tell me what's going on. If you can make it or not. And he was, so we had it almost materialized into a friendship kind of feel to where our back and forth, I could be much more open with them. I wasn't feeling like I was talking to an Attorney.

I was talking to a person. So, yes and no. I mean the hard part was just admitting that essentially you failed, you know, you didn't control that you're financially irresponsible, regardless of the intentions of what you were doing, it didn't work out. And so that was the first part that I was concerned about was how is this going to be received, you know, and how is this going to look, you know, kind of the optics.

art. And then the other part [:

And so this was the quicker and. Slightly painful option, but still a more realistic option to say, like, you're not waiting for any calls, you're not waiting for any letters to come after you, you're not looking over your shoulder thinking like, you know, now I've got debt coming to me, or is someone else going to come and give me another summons?

not going to get, you know, [:

And it didn't happen. I didn't have any stress whatsoever. Nobody called me or did anything and no threatening voicemails or all, none of that stuff happened after I contacted Miller Miller.

Jamie Miller: Right. And then just chatting about the Bank of America debt. What was that total debt approximately on that card?

Christopher Hendricks: I believe that was 6,000.

Jamie Miller: Okay. And what did the settlement look like for you on that card? Do you remember?

Christopher Hendricks: If I recall correctly, most of the settlements, including Bank of America were around 50%, maybe a little bit more. But it was pretty favorable to where, because I had the ability and I was making the monthly payments to a trust fund to set up the negotiations that I was able to clear a lot of those with lump sum payments.

ade it a lot easier to, that [:

Jamie Miller: Yeah. And then at what point well, how long ago did you become debt free when all of these credit cards were resolved and you were able to move forward.

e latter part of last year of:

Jamie Miller: Okay.

Christopher Hendricks: Fully became debt free. And the only thing I saw in my credit report was saying, okay, settled for less than the full amount. So for less than the full amount, which initially appeared as a negative. And I was like, okay. And so I even talked to Joe and I said, what's going on here?

d so it's going to be, it'll [:

And I was able to be transparent with them that everything was settled out. There was nothing pending, and these are the numbers, and they said, Oh, well that's terrific, you know, so there was no skeletons in the closet to say like, well, maybe the $6,000 debt will come after me at a later date. And so it opened a lot of doors.

Jamie Miller: That's great. And then what was your, when you came in and met with us, you know, a year ago or so, what was your credit score if you know.

to maybe [:

And I don't know if Joe was doing this. I'm sure credit companies don't really care who the person is, it's just numbers. So I think this was on Joe's end, to where when they did, when we settled the debts out, it did say settled for less than the full amount, but it took away all the negative payments.

So all the missed payments that you had based on leading up to what was eventually going to happen, none of that was there. So those started to fall off, which increased the credit score.

Jamie Miller: Right? And what people don't understand is that, you know, whether you do a bankruptcy, whether you do debt negotiation, getting that debt off of your credit report brings that debt to income ratio down.

ome has a big impact on your [:

Christopher Hendricks: So the credit score now across all the three bureaus is between 740 and 747, and it's remaining consistent to where everything's kind of mirroring. So there are issues that can come with credit reports and looking at. You know, accurate reporting and I haven't had that issue since we've had that go on.

ng at, you know, a couple of [:

Your credit scores are coming up and looking very nice. There's nothing that we have to worry about that we have to see coming down the road. And so we're confident to offer you a mortgage at this rate. And I said, Oh, I had no idea. I honestly didn't think I'd be able to, you know, even have the ability to purchase a house at that point with. Even with the debt correction, but it was not a problem.

hundreds where you have the [:

And you had also mentioned when we had talked previously, how. Getting rid of your debt has impacted your family life. And we had talked before that, you know, you're a very proud person. And so dealing with this debt and keeping it from your family, you know, before you started dealing with the debt was really a challenge. So tell me where you were and now where you're at with your family situation.

Christopher Hendricks: So prior to settling the debts, I mean, there was, even though it wasn't extreme, there was stressful notions. Like you were starting to just avoid conversations with people or, you know, you kind of felt like you were always walking on eggshells because you knew you had other things going on in your mind that debt was always lingering in the back of your mind and people would talk to you like, Oh, you're, you know.

And so forth. And I said, [:

I can just say like, well. I'm financially healthy. Debt to income ratio is the best it's ever been. So now we're looking at closing out a house on the end of July, July 31st, as a matter of fact. And this wouldn't have happened without it. And so the family life has improved. We've been doing a ton of stuff.

s with people in your family.[:

Jamie Miller: It's just so hard. And the, you know, you'll talk to people sometimes. Sometimes there's people who. Aren't dealing with debt issues that think that people are irresponsible and that debt is incurred because you're spending too much.

And I can tell you that I find in my practice that. Those that are in a debt situation are very responsible people that an event has happened. And for you, it was, you know, the responsibility of moving your father from Door County, the your PTSD issues in your emotional state, the impact on your family. I think, you know, you were employed at one point, and now you're not employed.

life is just great. And it's [:

We do it with you. And it's a partnership and I applaud you so much for your efforts to rebuild your credit and get things back on track, build those family relationships, take care of those debts. And you did have the choice to file bankruptcy, and you could have filed bankruptcy, but when presented with the options you made a decision that you wanted to go this route, and I'm just really happy to hear that it worked out.

more of a reality for me to [:

More stress, because he said, you tell me what you can pay. I'm not telling you what you need to pay. You tell me what you can afford. And I said, okay. And that's where we went. And it was transition from one debt to the next and Joe handled it all. And I can't say enough about him. I mean, he really kind of saved me in so many aspects of that.

And it took away not only all the stress, but offered a nice, healthy family environment among so many things going on. And taking that stress away just made life just so much better. You didn't, you didn't regret any mail. You didn't regret answering the door or the phone. And that was worth its weight in gold to me.

y ideas that you have in the [: