When I was a new college graduate in 1997, I got my father to co-sign on a credit account so I could buy a computer. It was a shining white beautiful Gateway 2000, it probably cost around $2,000 (you kids and your $300 computer deals!), and it came with an interest rate of 26.9%.
Around the same time, I was approved for my first credit card, and then my second, and things went pretty badly after that.
Some of the details of that time in my life are fuzzy, but I know that I paid off the computer loan. I had to move back in with my parents in order to afford that, but it was paid off. And until today, that was the only installment or credit account I have ever fully paid off. I’ve gone for eleven-ish years with nothing but revolving credit and unpaid loans to my name.
But I’m proud to announce something totally mundane: we paid off our Rooms-to-Go credit account. That nice big bed in our master bedroom? We actually own that. Like I said, it’s mundane, and there’s probably no reason for you to be impressed by that, but it means the end of a nasty stretch of feeling entirely guilty.
Now I just feel mostly guilty. I’ve still got a balance on what I call my “legacy credit debt” – the debt that’s been in various states of huge for over a decade, and which gets consolidated and moved around but never fully wiped out. But there is good news there, too: that balance is below $2,000 for the first time since the 1990s. I haven’t charged anything to that card since I-don’t-know-when, and I can see the light in the clearing.
Unfortunately, there’s more bad news. My other credit card – the one that I didn’t intend to carry a balance on – has a big balance on it. It’s embarrassing… so much so that I’ve avoided even telling you guys about it. I bought a Mac Mini to use in the entertainment center, and we got tickets for a comedy convention next year, and a paranormal investigation, and we started a corporation. Needless to say, those aren’t the daily expenses I was expecting to put on that card.
Oh, but there’s more good news: my wife got a raise recently, which means she can contribute more to the joint expenses, which means I can make higher payments on my credit card debt.
I estimate that I’m about 8-10 (so, probably 14) months away from having no more credit card debt, assuming I can avoid any more vacation ideas or shiny electronics. I just have to keep reminding myself that all progress is good progress, and kicking myself accomplishes nothing.
Wish me luck.
(Normally, I’d say that luck isn’t even involved, here, but it’d be great if my employer got enough business in the next couple of months to restore our salaries to their original positions. The salary thing really hurts.)
Published or updated November 16, 2009.