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Today is the day, Fools! I just made the last online payments to AT&T Universal and Citibank, which retired the last of our huge pile of nonmortgage debt! If you'll indulge me, I'd like to share our recipe for success…

Mix together:

5 credit cards
2 car loans
2 student loans
1 home improvement loan
State back taxes (medium)
Federal back taxes (extra large)

Blend well to yield a total of $137,932 in nonmortgage debt. (I double-checked my MS Money file the other day and realized our actual starting number was even higher than the $132,906 I've been using all these months! Eek!)

Combine with:

One copy Debt-Proof Living by Mary Hunt.

One terrified and slightly obsessive wife with good income and firm resolve.

One slightly recalcitrant husband with battered credit but good income.

Mix well and place in pressure cooker over high heat. Boil until impurities such as anger, regret and self-pity rise to the surface; skim off and discard. Strain through cheesecloth to remove additional impurities such as weekly cleaning service, dining out, and recreational shopping.

Return to pressure cooker, place back on stove and add the following:

1 Freedom Account, divided.

1 Emergency Fund (place on ice until needed).

2 weekly spending allowances, to taste.

1 snowball payment plan.

1 copy MS Money.

1 TMF Consumer Credit/Credit Cards message board.

Place lid on tightly so no new debt can contaminate the mix. Gradually add $17,842.72 in interest at declining rates ranging from 24.9% (DH's car loan when we started) to 0% (everything for the past year or so).

Liberally sprinkle with new frugal habits and simmer for 1,216 days, stirring occasionally. Do not leave unattended. Adjust heat and pressure as necessary to compensate for environmental conditions such as layoffs, leaky roof, major car repairs and major job change. Add patience and determination as needed; temporarily lower heat if emotions boil over. Season with occasional treats, paid for in cash, and periodic interim Happy Dances.

Mixture is done when all nonmortgage balances are at zero, both spouses have FICO scores over 740, and the sound of Happy Dancing is heard throughout the land.

40 months and $137,932 down; zero, zip, zilch, nada to go!

P.S. Thanks, Fools! It's been a pleasure and a privilege to share the journey with y'all! I am here to tell you that no matter how bleak things look, getting out of even the scariest debt is absolutely possible. It ain't easy and it ain't always fun, but it's definitely possible. And it's more rewarding than you can possible imagine.
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