A Financial Milestone

Tonight, I paid off my last credit card.


The image above is a screenshot from my list of accounts in Quicken. I paid off the Jeff-MotleyVISA3 account months ago by transferring the balance to the BECU Visa account when Chase sent a letter saying my long-held fixed-rate card was going to become an adjustable rate card with higher rates. I originally got that card because it offered an 8.9% fixed rate, much lower than other cards I had at the time. My BECU Visa and Amex (American Express) cards remain active – but now with zero balances.

As you can probably guess, this is a Big Deal. I’ve had a sizeable chunk of credit card debt since college. That’s what you do, right? So what if you float some balances month to month? I don’t want to even begin to think about the amount of money I’ve paid in interest fees.

But at some point it just became too much. So over the past few years, I’ve been aggressively paying down my balances, mostly by overpaying each month with a few satisfying payments contributed from royalties from the books I’ve published.

(A quick aside about royalties. My first technology book, Palm III & PalmPilot: Visual QuickStart Guide, was fairly successful, and I figured I would use royalty money to pay off my credit cards. I’d learned long ago that unless you’re a superstar best-selling author, the best approach to royalties is to consider them gravy. The book’s advance should cover the amount of work you put into creating it, and royalty money is just a nice bonus – but not to be relied upon. I’ve had quarters that were good, and I’ve had quarters where my royalty was a big fat zero. So although I have put a large amount of my royalty earnings toward reducing my debt, it’s taken far longer than I optimistically thought at the beginning of my career.)

And now, my credit cards have a zero balance. It feels really good.

They probably won’t remain at zero all the time (except the Amex, which must be paid off every month). But they’re going to stay low, especially since I came home to find a letter from BECU saying that they, too, are switching to an adjustable rate—but at least it has a reasonable cap to the maximum rate. I won’t be forking over huge amounts in interest fees.

I’ll say it again: It feels really good.

  1. Congrats, Jeff!
    I recently did the same thing. It took part of an inheritance and a severance package to manage it, but it’s done. I just got sick and tired of carrying the debt and paying interest.
    And I plan to keep them at zero for as long as humanly possible. This’ll be a cash-and-carry Christmas for us.


  2. What about considering yourself 30K in the hole still and paying yourself “back” until you’ve saved 30K? You can then use that $ as a buffer and never owe cc debt again!
    Anyway, congrats on finally getting to zero! (is that a weird thing to say?)


  3. Great Job…not many can accomplish this feat in these economic times. It’s nice to be disconnected from the interest choke collar. Tonya has a great idea.


  4. Kim and I have always had separate bank accounts (and we also have one shared money market account for paying some bills, etc.), so we do have savings still. I didn’t wipe myself out to get to zero. In fact, it feels like more of an accomplishment to me because this has been my debt to carry and remove.


  5. What can I say? You Rock! This is what it must feel like when you see your kid accomplish something amazing!! Way to go, Jeff! (and Kim!)


  6. i think zer0 is the new punk rock!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: