30 August, 2012

Welp, I paid off my credit card yesterday.

Can I totally not talk about music for a minute? Don't worry, I'll try to get around to something musically related in this post.
You see, as the title indicates, I paid off my credit card yesterday. Not a big deal for a lot of people. It was a pretty big deal for me.
You see, I never wanted a credit card and I had no intention of ever getting one. Even when I was in elementary school, I couldn't see the sense in borrowing money. And that was before I knew what interest was.
But then I began dating Angie and after we made the plan to relocate with each other to Minneapolis, she chided me for not having a credit card. I believe it was because she refused to put down her credit card as collateral on the Ryder truck we had to rent for the move and there was some argument over how, at twenty three? twenty four? I should have a credit card by now because that's just something you have to signify you're an adult: A credit card.
I know it sounds stupid but her tits made a very compelling argument. Hate to sound all misogynist up in here but I liked my girlfriend's tits and I never knowingly did anything to contradict them.
Also, you have to understand that Angie is in debt up to her tiiieeeyeballs. She's got government loans and shit like that for school, I think she gets her PhD next year or the year after that. That's a lot of debt. So things like credit cards are nothing to her. And, as much as I don't have too many nice things to say about her anymore, I also try to be somewhat fair considering that I also don't know her anymore - she may have changed since we broke up - but I vaguely recall her saying something about you don't really have to pay back a government loan or something cheeky like that. I could be remembering that wrong, it was a long while ago, after all. I'm just trying to illustrate the kind of tiii-person that had influence over me at the time: Already in phenomenal debt, planning to accrue more, and figuring that it would just "go away".
So I got a credit card because it was about time I had one (?) and I put down my Chase Bank Mastercard with a US$500 limit as collateral on a Ryder truck and moved to Minneapolis.
And everything was honky dory for a while, Angie and I both working while I was also attending school. And one winter day, I took Angie to work in the 'burbs in her car and drove her car back because I had to pick up her brat kid after school that day. And I was coming back from dropping her off when I hit a patch of black ice on 35W.
It was my first ever car accident. I fucked up my girlfriend's car. The other guy's car? It got a tiny scratch of green paint on it. Angie's car is (was) red.
It had a nice little Elvis lip curl to the front of it now and since Angie's insurance didn't cover asshole boyfriends, she had to pay for the repairs out of pocket, which meant that I had to pay for the repairs out of pocket. In an unexpected bit of what I guess one could call divine providence, the day after we got the estimate back from the body shop (just shy of two grand), my credit limit was extended to two grand. So, at twenty four years old, with a credit card in my possession for less than a year, I had maxed out my credit limit.
At the time, I had a fairly decent paying job (even though the work itself sucked) for being a mid-twenty something college student. By the time I graduated, I was bumped up from the call center to data entry (though never officially promoted) but as the field of work was in construction research and the the economy collapsed because the housing bubble burst... You can see where I'm going with this, right?
Soon, my forty hours were knocked down to thirty two, thirty two to sixteen, sixteen to twelve and from twelve to eight... Eight hours. I was working eight hours per week. I had already been looking for work but coming up short. I figured that in the meantime, I would have to get on foodstamps.
Do you know how many foodstamps a twenty seven year old single male, employed but working only one eight hour shift per week qualifies for in Minnesota? US$18, apparently. So, I broke out the plastic - my plastic, not the EBT plastic (which I never received, by the way) - when I went to the grocery store. Kind of had to. And I wound up maxing my credit card again. And again. It was a non-sustaining method of getting by. I froze my credit card in a block of ice in the freezer at least twice.
I've noted before in our hallowed halls here about how broke I used to be. About how, for a brief period of time, about a year, I was so poor that I was actually afraid of pay day. I don't know why I was, but the thought of having money even for the ten minutes that I'd have it before it had to be shipped off to my student loan companies, my cell service provider, and my Chase Bank terrified the shit out of me. If I had more than a dollar in my wallet, I'd worry about what I would have to do or, god forbid, get to do with that dollar.
It sucked. It was depressing. I broke down and cried at one point, I remember that.
And then I picked up a second job at the hostel here. I started pulling in some money. I joked that my primary source of income (the downtown firm) supplemented my supplementary source of income. My bills became easier to pay and my rent was getting paid on time.
I changed from Bremer Bank to US Bank so that I could have an account somewhere with A) more than one location I could reasonably get to and B) hours of operation during which I could actually visit. Because Bremer was, let's face it, ridiculously difficult for me to get to, I had been cashing my paychecks at one of those screwy check cashing places you see in the background of movie scenes when they need to illustrate that a character is in the ghetto. It wasn't bad. They charged something like only three percent to cash a check. And, had I ever needed a pack of squares, they sold those, too.
But I couldn't build a savings account with it. So, I took the time to go to Bremer, closed my account, they asked me why, I told them something polite that I can't remember, and walked down the hall of the mezzanine in the IDS Center and opened a US Bank account and started chucking paychecks in there.
Fast forward to this summer when I looked at my account. I had a substantial amount stashed away last summer but it was just a foundation, shall we say. And I have to admit that the only reason that I was saving at all was because I wanted to buy this thing:

Every last one of all 1,225 episodes on 131 DVDs and it comes with a poster.
It's also four hundred stupid fucking dollars.
Fuck you, I want that thing.
Anyway, I bring it up because my whole deal was that I wanted to make sure I had double the price in my checking account. When that happened, I was about to buy it when I thought to myself, You know? This really isn't disposable money. I mean I saved up to buy this but... Uh...
Granted, I did the math, taking only eight hours nightly sleep into consideration, this thing would keep me occupied for five and a half weeks if all I do is sit and watch every episode back to back to back nonstop. Four hundred dollars for five and a half weeks worth of entertainment? Come on, that's a steal! Right?
But I couldn't pull the trigger on it. Not yet. I needed to save even more. Maybe make it so that a four hundred dollar purchase would not be half of my savings, not be a third or a quarter, maybe a fifth or a sixth would be OK. A tenth would be dope. (Yes, I said "dope". Fuck you. It would be dope.)
But in the middle of my old-school pop-culture purchase frenzy, I realized that I could also take care of a goal I had last summer and fell just a wee bit shy: Pay off my credit card. I said it last summer and I said it this summer: I was done paying for Angie's car. After five years of paying sixty bucks a month and two years of paying forty bucks a month after my interest rate went down (And can I say that I know dick all about how interest works? Because my statement says my interest rate is 25.24% but substantially more than half [62.85%] goes toward interest rather than principal.), I figured I had paid for the hood of Angie's Honda Civic, a car I doubt she even owns anymore, two and a half times over. I was done carrying the balance. I've had two girlfriends - real girlfriends, not hook ups - since then. I voted in a presidential election since then and I have another one coming up that I still have to register for. I've graduated cum laude, lost a job, two jobs if you count the temp agency I worked for briefly but then my main contact left and the firm never called me with any more work but that doesn't matter because I'd already gone full time here by then anyhow... basically, I'm trying to say it's been too long to carry that stupid debt thanks to stupid black ice on 35W.
So, yesterday, I went downtown to my bank and asked for my balance. It was US$YouDon'tNeedToKnowThat. I told the teller, OK, I need to deposit this (my paycheck) and then I need a cashier's check for US$AnotherAmountIWon'tBeDisclosing. Basically, I cleared out a little under half of my account. That's right, I have more than half left.
I thanked the teller, went to Macy's, and bought a tie. But that has nothing to do with the credit card thing. I just don't have a tie. Again, let's bring Angie into it, I think she has my black skinny tie. Who knows? But I went to Target this past weekend and they didn't have any ties I liked so I left empty-handed and Theresa asked me why I didn't go to Macy's. So I went to Macy's and bought a tie. Sometimes people do shit like that. What do you want?
But now the question remains: What am I going to do with that plump, fat little nest egg I've got? I know I know I know that the smart money is on leaving it the hell alone; by this time next year, I can pay off one of my two student loans. But I want that DVD box set up there. I also haven't bought a new guitar since I was eighteen. And I won't lie. I've been doing some window shopping.

I could spend six hundred bucks to look like Bleach-era Kurt Cobain.

I could spend seven hundred fifty to look like Johnny Ramone.

Or maybe I could spend seven hundred fifty on this sexy little piece of black négligée.
I'm just saying, I could spend a little something out of what I have left and get a new guitar out of it and still be sitting pretty, well, pretty. Do I need a new guitar? No. The one I have works just fine. Do I need a box set of a nineteen sixties soap opera about werewolves and vampires and ghosts and Cthulhu and shit? Kind of. But again, I know that I ought to leave the money alone.
About a half hour ago, the mailman collected from the mailbox down the street. In it, contains my credit card bill, the last credit card bill I will ever pay. Because as soon as I get confirmation from Chase Bank that my account is clear and I'm not carrying a balance, I'm closing the account and melting the card in a big goddamned fire. While wearing a tie. Not that the tie has anything to do with the credit card, that's just how I roll.


  1. An actual Univox Hi-Flier on eBay is often about $300 cheaper. Plus, that Eastwood is not a copy of the Phase 4 Univox - it's a copy of the Phase 2.

    If you must have an Eastwood, go for the Johnny Ramone, cause, well, I always sorta wanted the Johnny Ramone guitar. Who wouldn't?


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