Sunday, April 15, 2007

Cut The Red Wire, Or The Blue Wire?

Ahhh...debt management.

When you've got what's known in the business as a "shitload" of debt, managing it can be very tricky. I used to be horrible at this - I was slovenly, unorganized, didn't keep receipts, didn't pay attention to how much interest my cards were at...a real mess to tell you the truth. When it came time to manage my debt, which then stood at over $33,000, I would literally tear my hair out. I would scream obscenities at objects like pens, or an envelope. I would punch our hot water heater and grind my teeth until I felt flakes of enamel on my tongue.

Then Bianca, my mate, saved me. She sat me down and helped me write down all my debts, what the interest rates were, etc. etc. Then I put this information in a black three-ring binder, and every month I pulled it out and managed my finances. It was immensely more helpful to have all the information in one place. I suppose I could make an Excel document and track things that way, but I like the solid feel of my now four and a half pound Black Book Of Debt. When I heft that bad boy out of the drawer, I think to myself, here's the story of how you paid off $18,000. Or, if I'm in a bad mood, here's the story of how you lost 7 years of your life to consumer debt.

Most of the time it is smooth sailing; my cards are all below 6%, and for months on end I simply leave the balances alone. But now and again there are opportunities to move a balance to a 0% card for 10 months or so. And here's where it gets all bomb squad. When I pull out the Black Book Of Debt to juggle thousands and thousands of dollars, I need absolute quiet. I need to concentrate. If I need to open the front door and shoo away noisy birds, I will do that. Because one small mistake, one misread of a bit of small print, and BOOM.

So the Black Book is opened. Beads of sweat form on my forehead. Fine print is examined. Transfer checks written out. Credit card numbers and available balances are checked and rechecked. The clock-ticking sound from "24" pounds in my throbbing temples. During this process Bianca is on eggshells; she hides in the bedroom or goes for a walk. If dinner is being served, I will not be interrupted to join, lest she be met with "Iamtryingtotransferbalancesheredoyoumind? Doyou?!"

And then I seal the envelope and cut the blue wire. The birds return to the trees outside. The household breathes a sigh of relief.

Until the next time.

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