Bank of AmericaWith today’s paycheck from the 9-5, err 7-5, job I think I’ve officially reached the point where my available assets (checking, online savings, and treasury bonds) are higher than my credit card debt. For good this time.

For last few weeks, I’ve popped my head above the line a few times, but regular household expenses have pushed me back under.

Now there is a buffer. Hardly a sizeable buffer, but enough to finally start growing my wealth the way I’ve planned to for so long. It’s been over 10 years since I’ve been in this situation — and this time it’s exciting!

Also of note, this morning, I paid off the last $420 of the $12000 unsecured loan from Bank of America that we used to finance our new roof back in December of 2006. That was the loan that they gave us at what I considered a ridiculous 15.5% rate. Grand total in interest paid was $643.83, which hurts, but the thought that we were able to payback that much money in the span of 6 months (and nearly $8k of it in the past two months) gives me a huge dose of confidence for our future projects.

In hindsight, it probably would have been cheaper to have used a credit card to finance the roof, but the idea of a fixed rate and set-in-stone monthly payment was the main draw at the time and it would have put me back so deep into credit card debt, I’m not sure if I would have had the steam to keep going as aggressively.

Also this morning, I just got off the phone with Customer Service at Bank of America. I hate their automated phone system — they ask for your social security number, which is fine, but ‘0’ is also an option. What happens when the first digit of your social happens to zero? Bad programming. I can say that because my real job involves that exact type of thing.

Anyway, the reason I was calling was because I’d been dinged with a $16 maintenance fee on my checking account for the past two months. The first month, I just ate it because I do remember there being something in there on the original $12k loan application about getting a half percent rate reduction if I switched to a “Preferred” checking account. I initialed it, or something, thinking it would save me so money.

When I first noticed the $16 charge (yes, they same day they nailed me with it), I searched through all of their “Regular Checking” fees thinking that maybe I made too many transfers or something. I do some business in Canada from time to time too, maybe it was some rogue foreign currency fee they were hitting me with, but no matter how I broke down their listing of fees, I couldn’t come up with $16 exactly.

Then I read up about their “Preferred” plan. If your combined accounts are under $10k, the generic maintenance fee is… yep, $16 on the nose. My plan now was to kill off the loan, then call to get switched back to the plain old regular checking I’d been on in the past.

So, back to the call… The first woman I spoke to — her name was unpronounceable — had no idea what I was asking so she transferred me and a gentleman named Paul Bramble took the call.

I’m not sure if it’s fair to classify them as telemarketers, but like the folks I spoke with at Allstate last week, I’d classify Paul as top echelon. He was good. He explained that I wasn’t on the Preferred Checking plan, but that I had been in the past. This meant that I couldn’t really “switch” to regular checking because that’s what I was already on.

Then I said I’d just been hit with a $16 maintenance charge two days ago — and that my account balance had never dipped close to the $750 minimum required on regular checking accounts. (It’s funny, when I opened the account, the minimum was $1k — but with all of the bank takeovers and name changes, resulting in BoA eventually swallowing nearly every local bank in the market, that minimum has been lowered to $750).

In the end, I’ve been refunded the $16 charge and I now know I can push things down to $750.

Not bad for a Thursday morning.

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