Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Only One Left ...

A few posts ago I talked about how I was hesitant to cut up my credit cards because of the feeling that I would be losing something. Specifically a business opportunity (please don't think that I'm emotionally attached to my credit cards - that is not the case). But yesterday I had a moment of clarity and I cut up the Capital One card that I've been hiding from myself in my day planner and which has a balance of $0.00 on it.

I zeroed this card out in August when I went on my get rid of debt spend-o-thon. I can't tell you how good it felt to know that I had finally gotten it taken care of, after like 2 years of paying them tons of money that could have been better spent elsewhere. But the other day I opened my email to find an alert from Capital One saying that I owed them money. And not only did I owe them $3.47 but they had already tacked on a $15 late fee to boot.

I knew that I hadn't charged anything to the card since I had paid the balance in full and so I was concerned right off the bat. When I went to look through my online statements only to find that the reason for the charge wasn't listed was when I decided to call and see what the heck was going on. Turns out that it was a finance charge for the balance that I paid off two months ago. Why they didn't send me a bill for the month of September ... I'm not too sure.

But I was as nice to the guy as I could be and when I asked him to remove the late fee, he did. And I paid my $3.47 and made sure that there was no way that I could be charged a finance fee on my finance fee (which they don't do - or at least I was assured that they don't do) and now the card is completely and totally and forever paid off. Forever. (If it isn't ... someone is going to have a very angry Super Careo on their hands).

And so, after I had made my last ever payment (for real this time) to Capital One, I cut up the card. It was really liberating actually. It's like cutting out a bad spot from your life. Feeling a burden lifted from your shoulders. Knowing that I will be able to put a lot more money to my Citi Card in the coming months so that I might be able to hit my goal of getting all my debts paid off before I move out of the 'rents house (hopefully in January ... or maybe sooner?).

You know that expression that says that if you love something then you should let it go? Well, I'm pretty sure that Capital One really loved it when I was late on payments or got my balance down a little bit only to charge something and send it right back up to within $10 of my credit limit. And for a time I liked being able to do that. But the time has come ... time to be free.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Paying Bills = Love

There's a radio station in town that is running a contest where the winner gets one of their bills paid for them. You fax in your bill and then they pull your name out of a hat (or whatever) and then they call you and tell you all about how you have one less bill to pay. Now, I like this idea but I do have issues with the radio spots they run promoting it. I think it goes something like this ...

Announcer: Everyone hates paying bills.
Girl: Oh maaaaan. Another bill?!
Announcer: Except for this one guy in our accounting department.
Guy: YES!! Another one paid off!!
Announcer: Won't you let us help him by paying your bills?

Now, normal people would probably hear this and think "I also hate to pay bills. That accountant is such a weirdo!" And that's what I thought the first million times I heard it. But then I actually took the time to absorb what the 'weirdo' accountant was saying.

Guy: YES!! Another one paid off!!

I don't like bills ... in fact I would even go so far as to say that I hate bills. But one thing that I like about bills is paying them off. Which is what the weirdo accountant is excited about. So ... does that mean that I love bills? If paying them down equals love ... then yes. I do love bills.

I think that we could all take a lesson from this radio spot however. Even though it's on the station that plays Pink and the Jonas Brothers, even though their morning show personalities make me want to drive off the road and into a light pole on my way to work ... their account has the right idea about personal finance. You should be excited to pay down your debt. You should be excited when you rip open your credit card/mortgage/car loan bill every month. Not because of the number in the minimum payment square but because of the number in the total balance box and the fact that each month when you pay more than the minimum (you are, right?) it drops.

Making credit card payments is one of the things that I really look forward to doing every month. When I get my paycheck one of the first things that pops into my head is "How big a payment can I make with this?"

There is nothing in this world that makes me feel as light and happy as I feel when I zero out a credit card balance.