Who abhors a vacuum? Nature and, as it turns out, your credit card company.
The day I got laid off at the LA Times, I wrote checks to a couple of banks and paid off my credit cards. In full. My balances weren't huge and these were zero-percent interest cards which cost me nothing, so long as I paid on time. But you batten down the hatches in a storm and let me assure you, being a journalist without a job at this point in time is mighty stormy.
I expected the feeling of freedom, the relief that, in this one part of my financial life at least, I had gained control. What I hadn't expected was the flood, the glut, the relentless deluge of credit card offers that would pour in EVERY SINGLE DAY since my payments cleared. Banks I'd abandoned long ago, banks I'd never done business with, banks I'd never even heard of sent me offers and come-ons and those scary blank checks anyone dishonest or desperate enough can steal from your mailbox.
That's a small sampling above. Many, many more have hit the shredder. And still they come, every day, frantic pleas from banks doing who-knows-what with our $350 billion bailout, eager to ensnare me in debt, to charge me usurious rates so I can borrow from them the money that I -- that we all -- just gave them.
I'm pretty sure this isn't the result they're looking for but I've put the credit cards away. Gone. Haven't charged a single thing since that day in October when I lost my job. The cards are there, of course, in case of a dreadful, dire emergency (and for airplane tickets and car rentals because really, who needs Homeland Security breathing down your neck because you tried to pay for your travel with twenties) but other than that, here in Malibu, in Otis Chandler's trailer in Paradise Cove, we've become a cash-only economy.