Well, the Internet finally learned to cooperate and I got to make sure that yes, my paycheck did indeed get deposited into my bank account. Then I did what people everywhere do in this situation, I began blowing the money immediately. BUT, as people everywhere do NOT do, I specifically and methodically targeted the money hemorrhaging from my only-recently-not-empty account. I paid my 1-15th of the month bills, as usual; I checked my already-paid-off credit cards to make sure they were still at $0, as usual; but then I got to do something absolutely "wicked sick".
I paid off my very last credit card.
In fact, I did it on the phone, so that I could get the complete payoff figure (in case there were any random cents of incremental interest) and so that I could immediately close the card. When I mentioned that infamous "C-word" to the customer service rep, she asked if I had any other high-rate balances I could transfer over to this card, because she would give me a super-sweet deal. And it actually was a super-sweet deal, I'll have to give her that - 2.99% for the life of the balance transfer - but you know what I got to say?
"Actually, no... I don't have any other credit card balances. This was my last one."
She sounded surprised, and genuinely excited for me. "What an accomplishment!" she said. "You must feel very proud of yourself. Well, then I'll close this card right away and send you a confirmation letter [etc., etc.]."
I smiled, thanked her graciously, and hung up. Then I called two other card companies and canceled my cards with them, as well. Those were cards I'd paid off a few months ago, but since I still had balances on other ones I wanted to keep them open so my debt-to-limit ratio was still good. But now, since my debt (well, my cc debt) is zero, that ratio's as good as it can be. I canceled three cards I would never use - highest rates, customer service I don't really like, etc. - and kept four: one Visa (my oldest card), one MC (with rewards), one Amex (because it worked in Japan and nothing else did; besides it's my lowest rate and has a cool blue holographic thingie), and another Visa because... why did I keep that one - oh, right. I can check it with the same log-in as the MC so it's easy to keep an eye on, and it has a good rate. Doesn't hurt to have some available credit options, just in case.
But nobody needs 7 credit cards, so I cleaned house. I'll get confirmation letters in the mail that the accounts are closed, and I'll shred the cards. As for the cards I kept, I put one in my purse for emergencies and filed the rest away. My purse is thinner, my Monthly Payments Checklist has shrunk by like half (and will be a much smaller checklist when I make a new one for 2009), and I am officially NO LONGER PAYING INTEREST TO ANY CREDIT CARD COMPANY WHATSOEVER.
Sorry about the bold caps... I'd say it's because "I'm just so excited" - and I suppose I should be, and probably am - but at the moment it's hard to describe how I feel. I'm looking at this chart and seeing the little checks I made each month: bill paid, bill paid, bill paid... and now it just says zero, zero, zero... zero, zero, ZERO!
And somehow I can't stop crying. Or laughing. Yep, both at the same time. Nope, I don't have a clue.
Total Amount Paid Since November 2007: $23,405.46
I'm not totally out of consumer debt yet - still have a loan from The Bank of Mom for $4,000. But with no credit card payments anymore, I'll be able to pay that down a lot faster. I won't be completely debt free by November 16, 2008 (my one-year anniversary for my Debt Elimination Resolution(TM)), but I will be credit card free by then... and I think that's a pretty good accomplishment for one year.
Now I better go get some Kleenex. And maybe some ice cream ;)
 This is a positive term.
 I mean "close," you sickos!
 And I mean real emergencies, like I get kidnapped and end up in Bozeman, MT and need to get on a plane ASAP. Not like "I'm-currently-out-of-ice-cream-and-there's-14-more-days-til-payday" emergencies. The 0's just feel way too good to ever go back!