The end of debt

It seems like yesterday that I had no debt - because no bank would give me a credit card or a loan.  I had to live with what I had because I didn't have any kind of credit history.  Do you remember those days?  Cash was King in the late 1980s and it was in limited supply.

I often recall - though I wonder if it is a tall tale I tell that really didn't happen - of being so poor living on Sproat Lake near Port Alberni, BC and being over-the-moon excited at finding enough change between the seat cushions to go out and buy cream for my coffee.  That was when I was working for the radio station and making $900 per month, before deductions.

I remember the first few purchases made on a payment plan:  the Kirby vacuum cleaner (I'm still stunned as to how much I paid for that powerhouse. The salesman's name?  Are you sitting down?  No word of a lie, it was Marco Magnifico.), the set of Great Books and Encyclopedia Brittanica (also a small fortune and a complete mystery why and how I got sucked into buying them), and the first set of furniture from that discount place.  These first dances with debt and crazy high interest rates, began bumping up the meter on my credit rating.

The first house that I was able to get a mortgage for was in Drumheller in about 1994 when I was 27.  I paid a lofty $16,000 for that old two-level bungalow just off the main street and still had to have renters to help me pay for it.  It must have been a pretty solid deal as the realtor ended up buying it from me when I got the job in Fort McMurray and realized a small profit.

That trend continued up here as I went from condo to manufactured home to the house we are in today.  Yesterday, Heather and I paid off the mortgage.  I am 48; she is 38.  We have been fortunate and the timing could not have been better. Lots of boarders helped us get started in this place when the cash flow was much smaller than it is now.  As our careers progressed, we were slowly able to divest ourselves of the need to have people living under our roof to make the payments.

On the one hand it feels great to be debt-free for the first time in our adults lives.  On the other hand, it's making me feel my age and one step closer to retirement.  I'm not complaining.  I like my grey hairs - all four of them, and the fact that I can't make it through the night without getting up to use the washroom at least a couple of times.  I also like the fact that we can look around at these four walls and say to ourselves that we now own this small piece of comfort and home.

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