Thursday, March 03, 2005

Miracles & Dragons

We're a family of dragon killers.

Some background: Amy removed herself from our financial dealings, at my urging - and without a fight - some months ago when I stepped up and acted like the man I should have been far sooner. She had been trying to juggle our money or lack thereof amid the throes of her health problems and I had let her for far too long. So Amy agreed to simply let me worry about it. I've documented many of the struggles here before, but they're not uncommon. We lived beyond our means too often and were poor stewards of our finances.

We've still got a lot of debt but thanks to God's many mercies - new job opportunities for me, a few financial windfalls, selling everything of any value we could part with on Ebay and the miraculous generosity of loving friends at times of pure crisis - we've been able to get it under control. Let's say we're at least paying the BIG DRAGONS on time and very few creditors are hounding us, with the exception of some medical thugs. Honestly some of those bills are in insurance limbo and we're not paying them deliberately...also they don't charge interest so that lets us let them slide when we have to make such choices.

We will pay every cent we owe. We have made this vow to each other and to God but we know it will take time.

Anyway suffice it to say Amy has been hands off the money. She'll put her hands up over her ears and scream, "LA LA LA LA LA" whenever I even try to discuss such things because she's put her faith in me (this is a sign of insanity I know, but so was marrying me).

For some reason though today Amy watched a TV show she normally doesn't which mentioned that a lot of credit card companies were more anxious to lower rates these days. Minutes later she happened to see a credit card bill sitting on my desk. The bill was for one of the two remaining credit cards we have which are still charging us an outrageous interest rate: 27.24%!

It's our Chase card and not too long ago I called them personally and politely requested they cut us a break. Their response then was not only, "No" they actually raised our rate the following month because I called them. Really.

So Amy, who has steered clear of our finances and my dealings with creditors like they were a pack of raving rabid wolves, for some reason decided to pick up the phone and call Chase this morning. She spoke to some very nice woman named Judy (presumably not the one from Time Life books) who told her since the card is in my name that I would have to talk with them, but she believed the interest could be lowered now.

I came home to an anxious Amy who explained what had transpired and we called Chase. In all honesty I wasn't expecting much but in a matter of seconds the gentleman I spoke with agreed to lower our interest 7.99%...for the life of the loan as long as we stay current, which we can do! I literally asked him if I had to kill someone for that to really happen and he laughed for a second before adding, "Is there any other card charging you a high interest rate?"

Seconds later, we killed another dragon.

Our other high interest credit card (18 plus percent) which has been my primary target for elimination in recent months is dead. Chase agreed to transfer that balance at a permanent rate of 5.99%.

Our daughter is the math whiz but Amy and I figure we can pay off the total debt on that Chase card now in two years making reasonable payments and save something like 5 thousand dollars in interest!

I'm stunned.

I know it's only money shuffling to a great degree, but one credit card is dead and a bank that only months ago I had equated with the mob has suddenly become one of our least demanding creditors.

I'm proud of Amy for taking a chance and peering into our murky financial world, I know it still frightens her. I'm delighted by the outcome.

There's more I could write about all this...a lot more, but we have to go take care of some business.

There is one thing more that I really have to add though: we are still in debt and will always a gracious God...who deserves all the credit.

You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but You?
And earth has nothing I desire besides You.
- Psalm 73:24-25