How I Got Out of $36,867.56 In Credit Card Debt

Jeff Davis
8 min readDec 22, 2021

On December 8th, 2016, I found myself in $36,867.56 in credit card debt.

I knew the amount was high, but I thought it was somewhere midway between $20,000 and $30,000.

I was shocked to find it well above $30,000.

I felt embarrassed and ashamed. I had a Master’s degree in finance, yet my personal finances were out of control. I’m not talking about student loans here — I’m talking about credit cards.

How Did I Get Myself Into This Mess?

I got into this mess going after my dreams. I had ten credit cards each with thousands of dollars of debt accrued on them, and it was nearly all because of the pursuit of my dreams.

I went into debt to fund my dream of becoming a professional keynote speaker and author. The debt came especially from the speaking side of things.

I paid my own way to speak at events around the world. The exposure was great and I often got positive feedback through testimonials.

Expenses add up all too quickly, though. For example, in the summer of 2016, I went to Phoenix, Arizona to speak to an audience of youth leaders. It was a prestigious event to speak at, but I had to completely pay my own way. Here are some of the expenses from a single trip:

  • Leaving my car in long-term parking at the airport
  • The flight
  • Renting a car
  • The hotel
  • Eating out

I also invested thousands of dollars in the three books I published. I went through a traditional publisher for one of my books, but I lost money and never made a return on investment due to the challenges of book marketing (Facebook ads, paid promotions, etc.).

One of my books won an award in inspirational non-fiction, and another one went on to become an Amazon bestseller in the competitive category of Business Mentoring & Coaching. But I’m honestly not sure if it was worth it.

My credibility was soaring, but my finances were crashing.

I kept thinking there would be a return on investment from all my efforts, but…

Jeff Davis

Award-Winning author, blogger, world traveler, TEDx speaker — a.k.a. Mr. Mountaintop: