Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Where did I put that diploma?

When I woke up this morning, I had a compelling urge to track down my college diploma to make sure I had one.

It was a dream that made me doubt something earned more than 20 years ago. When the alarm clock went off this morning, it thankfully interrupted a dream that I was back in college trying to finish my degree.

I was apparently even slower at my slumbering education pace than I was in real life. I was a sixth year senior in the dream and seeking out an adviser, because I had no clue what classes I still needed to take to finish up. I only hoped I could finish it in one academic year.

In another part of the dream, or perhaps it was a different dream all together, I woke up (in the dream) on a sleeping porch, presumably at a fraternity. (The fraternity I was in during college had rooms on 2nd and 3rd floors where everyone assigned to each given floor slept in bunk beds. The windows were always left open even in winter, and the room was not heated or air conditioned).

A sleeping porch in a sorority. The ones my fraternity had in
college were nowhere near this nice or decorated.
I woke up on the sleeping porch and turned on a TV that was along a wall, between bunk beds, past my feet. It was quite an insensitive thing to do because people were still sleeping. But apparently I really wanted to watch something on TV.

The dream(s) made me uncomfortable for some reason. I found myself trying to convince me groggy mind that I already had a diploma. I was pretty sure it was on top of the refrigerator. But when I was fixing breakfast and brewing coffee, I look up on top of the refrigerator and the diploma was not there. The doubt returned.

Lately, my dreams seem to take me back in time. Perhaps there is some sort of unfinished business back there. A common theme is that I have accepted a job at a former workplace. I am either on the interview and offered the job while I'm there or I'm checking in at the office when I arrive back in town and something happens that pulls me in to a meeting or into working early. I am not prepared to start yet, but dive in anyway. Some of the people there, those who weren't there when I worked there before, wonder what the hell I am doing and why I am there. And the people that do know why I am there are too preoccupied to tell anyone what I'm doing there.

I don't know what any of these dreams mean. Maybe I need a dream interpreter. A website on dream interpretation,, says on a page about recurring dreams that:

 "The repetitive patterns in your dream reveal some of the most valuable information about yourself. It may point to a conflict, situation or matter in your waking life that remains unresolved or unsettled. Some urgent underlying message in your unconscious is demanding to be understood."
Obviously I'm not getting the message.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Closing the Slate on a long, difficult Chase

I could never make a living by betting on sports. I am too tempted to put my money where my heart it. I can't bring myself to bet against my favorite teams or bet on hated rivals.

By the same logic, I probably would be awful as a full-time stock trader. I would be too tempted to put my money into favored brands and perhaps ignore investing opportunities for companies with which I had no personal association. And I would certainly have difficulty putting money into companies with which I had negative experiences.

That is why I am taken aback at the news today that JPMorgan Chase led a stock market rally. The rally is attributed to the fact that the bank reported stronger profits than the analysts expected, even though the bank's own investment bungle earlier this year cost far more money than was originally thought.

So, JPMorgan Chase lost $5.8 billion dollars, but still managed to eek out $5 billion in earnings for the previous quarter. Wall Street investors apparently think JPMorgan Chase is going to do great things for their portfolio in the future.

And on the same week Wall Street investors make that bet, I chose to end my relationship with JPMorgan Chase.

I finally made the call this week to close my remaining Chase credit card account. I have about one more payment to make before I completely pay off that card. I probably should have closed the account long ago when I cut up the card, but I had kept it active thinking maybe they would lower my interest rate at some point. They didn't and it got to the point where it didn't matter, because I am close to being able to pay it off in full.

I had daydreamed about what I would say when I eventually called to close the count, as if my speech could serve as some sort of verbal victory lap. It would sort of be a "take-this-card-and-shove-it" diatribe, but far more eloquent. Perhaps the petty functionary at customer service would pass me up to a supervisor, who would make a grand apology and gesture to try to offset more than 2 years of 27-plus percent interest rates, in spite of no late payments. They would try desperately to keep me as a customer -- and I would briefly consider it -- before sticking to my new-found financial morals and insisting the account be closed.

There was no grand speech from me. And the customer service rep, who did ask why I was closing the account, made no attempt to talk me out of it when I said I was paying off all my debts and was particularly unhappy with the high interest they had been charging me. I said I would never use the card again. After a brief pause, she said the account had been closed.

Now, all that's left to do is to wait for another billing cycle and another payday, and to pay the remaining balance.

I am done with JPMorgan Chase. Wall Street isn't. And that's OK. We can agree to disagree. Perhaps there may even be some JPMorgan stock tucked away somewhere in one or more of my 401(k) accounts. And that's OK too. I doubt it will ever earn me 27-plus percent a year as an investment. But it sure as hell won't cost me that much ever again in interest charged each month on a credit card.

One more account closed and almost paid off. Four to go.

So long, JP.  Thanks for helping buy some things that seemed terribly important over the years. And, in a strange way, thanks too for jacking my interest rate to the moon, because you helped me to finally learn how stupid I had been with credit cards. You forced me to finally look around and see how deep of a hole I was in. Some lessons can only be learned the hard way.

But just to be clear, JP, I still hate the way you treated me and will never do business with you again. Some of those dollars you pissed away were mine. Maybe not many, in the overall picture, but more than you should have got over the years, because you came to see me as a bad investment. I take some satisfaction in proving you wrong, but I will take even more satisfaction in never writing you another check ever again.

The End Debt Daily