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.