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What’s the best investment you can make in 2018? Three considerations—taxes, risk and the economic cycle—point to one conclusion: Paying down debt looks like an awfully smart move.

Last year, DW and I got rid of our last long-term obligation, a $500/mo mortgage payment. The modest improvement in free cash flow helped make Christmas presents and year-end property taxes a bit more manageable. Our real estate taxes have exceeded our mortgage payment for decades.

DW doesn't like to have any debt, regardless how low the interest expense. For this reason, she never would allow me to take advantage of the 0% automobile loans that came up from time to time.

I have a very, very old American Bar Association co-branded Visa card that has a fixed 7.9% interest rate and a high credit limit. Based on the original cardholder agreement, a 7.9% interest rate is permanent, so long as I am never late with a payment. If I breach the terms of the agreement, I believe that the bank is allowed to increase the card rate to the prevailing rate (which I think is somewhere between 18% and 27%).

From time to time, the current bank, which bought the ABA-branded credit card portfolio about a decade ago, tries to convince legacy card holders to switch to a "cash back" or "member rewards" agreement, so as to finally get rid of the remaining portfolio of 7.9% credit cards.

They also sometimes offer to issue loans on checks they send, with 0% interest for 12 months. I don't have any idea why they would offer 12 months of free interest to card holders whose cards are already low-margin accounts. Maybe they figure that we old codgers will write a bigger check than we'll charge on a card. Maybe statistically, account holders who take cash advances with loan checks are more likely to be late with a payment, which would enable the bank to use the "gotcha" clause in the credit agreement to permanently escalate the interest rate.

I really can't figure out what is the bank's angle, but I have been tempted to use one of those checks to borrow a few thousand to fund a business venture for the next 12 months at 0%. If I did, DW would heatedly remind me that she is the one who would be stuck with paying off the loan if I were to suddenly cross over to the other side.

I'm working on a venture funding campaign to post on www.indiegogo.com for a device I invented and got patented. Part of the indiegogo campaign will be an effort to recoup sunk costs. I advanced the $12,0000 Patent Attorney's fees, as well as fees to the US Patent & Trademark Office for the patent and for the trademark application. In the last few months, I've also incurred $2,000-$3,000 out-of-pocket in initial prototype expenses. Within the next few weeks, I'm due to receive a bill for about $3,000 for a writer/animator/producer who's working on a 1-minute explanatory animated film.

I'm seriously considering writing one of those 0% credit card advance checks to pay the film maker and/or a CAD design consultant I am working with to refine the prototype.

Maybe I should call the issuing bank to see exactly what sort of hidden "gotcha" there might be buried in the check advance program that would allow them to permanently increase the 7.9% fixed rate on the account to the prevailing 18% to 27% rates.

Seems like much ado about nothing, I guess. I very rarely carry a balance on the card at the 7.9% rate, unless it's for cashflow management and/or to pay big medical bills. Maybe I'm being neurotic to try and hang onto a fixed rate 7.9% credit card just because I remember when mortgages were 15% and credit cards were 27% to 30%.

</end stream-of-consciousness post>
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