CFI Blog

My Most Mortifying Money Moment

“The rate at which a person can mature is directly proportional to the embarrassment he can tolerate.”
–Douglas Engelbart

I knew better. When I was a carefree bachelor stationed in Germany, I lived life to the hilt. I traveled a lot. I went out a lot. I charged a lot.

So, when I came back to the States and sold my car, I paid cash for its replacement and used the remainder of the proceeds to pay off my credit card debt. I was debt-free.

Just eighteen months later, I was on the phone with my soon-to-be fiancé, confessing to being saddled with five digits of credit card debt and only a semester into law school. She, on the other hand, was a paragon of financial virtue and had no such consumer debt, only a car loan.


Fortunately, she didn’t let that stop her from committing to me. Thank goodness. It also gave me the impetus I needed to stop the madness and arrest the slide.

Few things are as humbling as admitting your failings to someone you so badly want to impress. – Click to Tweet

That was tough medicine admitting my financial failings. I had earned good money in the Army yet had little to show for it, and it wasn’t like I could point to things that had gone on my credit card and say “Boy, that was worth it.” Instead, I’d nickeled and dimed myself into quite a daunting credit card bill with nothing to show for it.

“But I’m going to be a lawyer and make a ton of money!” I’d tell myself in my weak moments, which were often, to rationalize my decisions.

I never became a lawyer. In fact, I never even finished law school, becoming, instead, so enamored with business school that I eschewed the JD/MBA program just to finish my MBA.

It took that moment of mortification to drive me to change my behavior. Few things are as humbling as admitting your failings to someone you so badly want to impress.

Then again, few reliefs are as great as the feeling of having the burden of debt lifted from your shoulders. If you’re in debt, I hope you get to have that feeling, as it’s liberating. If you’ve never been in debt, then don’t go seeking to get that feeling of relief. It’s the exact same feeling of relief as the one that you get when you stop banging your head against a wall. Your head feels better because it’s not receiving repeated blows. However, all of the banging which happened to get you to that point sure does hurt.

What’s your most mortifying money moment? Tell us about it in the comments below. No stone-throwing. We’ve all been there.

Author Profile

John Davis
John Davis is a nationally recognized expert on credit reporting, credit scoring, and identity theft. He has written four books about his expertise in the field and has been featured extensively in numerous media outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, CNN, CBS News, CNBC, Fox Business, and many more. With over 20 years of experience helping consumers understand their credit and identity protection rights, John is passionate about empowering people to take control of their finances. He works with financial institutions to develop consumer-friendly policies that promote financial literacy and responsible borrowing habits.

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