A little extra

I incurred the debt on October, 2007.  The Pontiac 6000 needed major repairs at the time – by “major” I mean that the engine was leaking oil and there were cracks in the engine – and I didn’t have that kind of money in my joint checking account.

Those of you who have read my blog since its inception with the TU know that the Pontiac 6000 was my first solely-owned car, and I put a lot of time and expense and $$$ into making the “6” roadworthy and classy.  Well, as classy as a GM A-frame body that could have been mistaken for an Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera or a Buick Century could be.  But, as you know, old cars can turn into financial money pits.

Well, I needed a car.  I couldn’t afford a new car – heck, I couldn’t afford a used car – and I wasn’t going to return to sharing whatever Nissan my 4’10” wife was driving.  Trust me.  You know that car at Ringling Bros. where 15 clowns come out of it?  That’s the kind of Nissan Altima Vicki loved to drive.

But I wasn’t giving up on my Pontiac 6000 without a fight.

So I did something that, in hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have done.  But that was five years ago, and I was thinking more with my heart than with my brain.

I borrowed money against my 401(K) plan – just enough to pay for the car repairs, as well as a little extra just in case there were additional repairs that were necessary.  The car was fixed, and I got three more years of mobility out of it.

And of course, when you borrow money, you need to repay it.

So I repaid it.  Every pay period, I put in the amount – plus a little extra.  A few dollars extra here, a few dollars extra there.  A little extra.  If I owed $, I paid $$ and ¢.

The first thing you have to remember when paying a long-time bill; most of your payments are going to interest.  You think you’re paying things down, but in fact only a fraction of what you’re paying is going to your balance.

So you want to pay your loan of early.  It’s not easy.  It’s never easy.  If I had the money that day, I never would have taken out the loan.  I’m just thankful I had the ability to borrow that money.  But it needed to be returned.

I kept paying.  A little extra each time.  I paid through the credit crunch.  I paid through relocation and the divorce.  I paid even after the Pontiac 6000 drove its final miles.   I paid while I was zeroing out my Sears card and paying off my Chilly Day credit card.  A few dollars here, a few dollars there.

Last Friday, I confirmed with the company that administers my 401(K) account, that my loan was finally paid off.  Free and clear.  And five months ahead of the original amortization schedule.  Whatever total that is currently in my 401(K) is now earning interest towards my retirement, and eventually toward my daughter’s inheritance.

To say that I’m relieved that the loan is paid off is an understatement.

I have many goals in my life, a “life list” of whatever achievements I can attain within my lifespan.  But one of the most important goals is to make sure that on the day when God taps me on the shoulder and says, “Your ride’s here, Chuck,” I don’t want to leave any debts behind.  I don’t want my daughter Cassaundra going over my financials after I’ve passed away and watching her inheritance gobbled up by creditors and collection agencies and lienors, devouring up the money like Pac-Man devouring electronic dots.  And don’t give me that malarkey about the debt being eliminated when the borrower passes away.  That’s like saying, “Gee, I hope he drops dead, then the bill collectors will get screwed out of what they’re owed.

So now I have a few extra $$$ in my take-home pay.

You know what I’m going to do with that.  I’ve got three options.

I could:

(A) take a road trip to B&H Photo Video in New York City and go camera-shopping crazy;

(B) take my current car to the local custom body shop and give it the “Pimp My Ride” treatment;

(C) purchase a really, really big gumball machine and fill it from bottom to top with penny candy.  Sugar free candy, of course.  And then get a big, big bucket of pennies.

But in the end, you know I’m going to choose Option D.  You’ve read this blog long enough, you know I’m always going to choose Option D.

And Option D is to earmark that extra money that I’m now receiving in my paycheck, and use it to knock down the balances on my credit cards from the Rainy Day and Sunny Day Credit Card companies.

That’s important.  And I have to take care of this.

At least until my ride pulls up and says it’s time to go.