Saturday, December 6, 2008

Debt and Credit

For a brief moment there, we were credit debt free, and for the second month in a row no less.

That doesn't actually mean that we don't owe anything to the wonderful folks at Visa. It just means that we're not carrying any balances from month to month anymore. See balance; pay balance; feel good. Not a bad system.

Getting to this point seemed like a good idea three years ago, when I started this project, and now that the economy has crashed and burned (newsflash: we're officially in a recession! since last year! will all the conservatives who spent the last twelve months dismissing such talk as just mindless Bush-bashing please shut up now!), it seems like an even better idea. On the one hand, this means fewer gift certificates to, a service our main and now only credit card offered after every so many dollars of transactions. On the other hand, it also means fewer opportunities for large men named Vinnie to come knocking on our door asking for either payment of past bills or small but important body parts.

It's been almost exactly a decade since we were at this point with our credit debt before - an achievement that lasted about a month before the numbers began taking off again for points skyward. But at some point, you look at those numbers on the bills and think, well, this just isn't working. And then you buckle down and make those numbers smaller, bit by bit, until finally they go away.

But no matter what you do, credit debt creeps up again, if for no other reason than the consumer protections that you get when making large purchases that way. This month I paid off my new glasses. Next month the bill will reflect the corrections made to my car after I tried to move a four-bedroom house using only the passenger-side rear-view mirror. Word of advice: do not try that at home. The debt comes back, and trick will be paying it back down when the bill comes in.

So now here we are. Can we keep it up? Should we? Credit ratings depend in part on carrying a balance - they want to know if they can make money off of us, after all. I think we'll try to keep it up as long as we can though.

Nothing against large guys named Vinnie. We like large guys named Vinnie. Down boy. Heel.

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