DX6516_2905414b[1]“The amount UK consumers owe on loans and credit cards grew by £1.9bn in March 2016, the highest figure in 11 years, driven by a sharp rise in spending on plastic.”    (The Guardian)

If personal debt really is increasing again at a worrying rate, then a growing number of people could soon be facing the stress of a debt crisis.

For anyone facing this kind of problem, debt advisers might say things like this:

  • Don’t ignore the situation. Open the demand letters, make a list of the balances.
  • Always respond to every communication from a creditor. That shows you’re serious about dealing with the situation.
  • Make an offer. Explain if you can’t offer more.

To those basic steps, I’d add another:

  • Always communicate in writing. You’ll have a record of what was said and agreed; and it’s less stressful than dealing with creditors on the phone.

Avoid the phone

Many years ago I was in that situation, when my small business failed and I owed money to 26 creditors. Negotiating with all of them took a long time but eventually I came through it without permanent scars on my sanity (as far as I know).

I always negotiated in writing, never on the phone.

Dealing with a creditor on the telephone is stressful. My voicemail took a lot of the strain (what a great invention, whether you have an actual machine or a service from your phone provider) but if a creditor left a message I always responded … in writing.


One of the complications that I occasionally encountered was the involvement of intermediaries. Some were bogus law firms which were actually departments of the creditor company, with stationery designed to give the impression of being a genuine law firm, in order to intimidate.

When dealing with intermediaries of any kind, I was always extra-polite, working on the assumption that they hadn’t been fully informed, so I would write things like: “maybe you don’t know, but in the letter of so-and-so from your client …” and I’d enclose or attach a copy of the previous correspondence.

Not keen on writing letters? Help is available!

You might say that writing letters (or emails) is not your strong point. That’s no problem, because lots of debt management organisations can help you. For example, here in the UK, Citizens Advice Bureaux are all over the country and their advice is free and impartial. They helped me greatly. The other major nationwide debt advice charities are StepChange and National Debtline. There are also many local not-for-profit advice providers: for example in Bristol, where I live, there’s Talking Money. There’ll be one near you.

Buying time: it helps your negotiation

The other benefit of working with one of the debt advice charities, or any adviser, is that it creates a little distance between you and the creditor and it buys you some time. So, if a creditor calls you rejecting your offer and gives you a counter-proposal, you can say (politely, of course!) “thank you; but could you put that in writing, please, because I have to refer it to my advisers.”

Letter templates

Templates for standard letters / emails are available from some of the organisations I mentioned above. You can also find templates in my book Back to the Black.

Want to know more?

This article is an extract from my book Back to the Black … how to become debt-free and stay that way.



BBC2’s Newsnight ran an informative and inspiring piece this week, highlighting the wide range of support provided by the Citizens Advice organisation. Demand for their services is increasing – nationally it’s quadrupled since the start of the recession – while funding has been cut.

Volunteers: the backbone of the CAB service

We saw the workings of the Coventry CAB (that’s what the individual bureaux are called here in the UK), staffed mostly by volunteers including Brian Adams, a 75-year-old former miner who has been a volunteer there for almost ten years. He says he finds it “fulfilling to help people” and the feeling is shared by three generations of his family. His daughter began volunteering at the bureau and then made the switch to paid work as the receptionist; and his 16-year-old grandson, who is still at school, volunteers too.

School outreach: a win/win collaboration

Talking of schools, we saw a most innovative collaboration with local schools, through whose involvement confidential referrals can be made. And while the school is acting as a kind of outreach branch of the local CAB, we heard from a head teacher who reported a fantastic impact on the pupils: measures of academic achievement had doubled and absenteeism had halved.

Personally, I cannot speak highly enough of the benefits that Citizens Advice brings to communities in so many ways. Watch the film, I urge you!

Debt advice

This blog is about debt. When I had my own problems in the 90s, the local CAB were a fantastic help to me, as they have been to countless others. You can book a face-to-face meeting – though you might have to wait a little because, as I said, they are overstretched – or use their excellent online help service.


For the Citizens Advice online help service.

For details of your nearest CAB (UK only: sorry, folks, if you don’t live here), there’s a search box on their home page.

For the full Newsnight TV piece (only 12 minutes).


In my book “Back to the Black”, I talk about the psychological effects of being in debt. In fact Chapter 2 is entitled “Mind Over Matter.”

I was pleased to see that this important issue was covered in a recent article by Simon Read in “The Independent” (17 March 2012). I’ll take the liberty of paraphrasing:


Being in debt is a depressing experience.

“A trouble shared is a trouble halved”; but the annual report of Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS) shows 25% of those in debt don’t share their troubles with friends or family.

It’s understandable that people don’t want to discuss their debt problems. They’re embarrassed that they might be judged.

Admit the problem; don’t delay

However, admitting you’re in financial trouble is the first step towards solving the problem.

CCCS also revealed that 45 per cent of people delayed seeking advice for more than a year after they started to worry they had a debt problem. Many of them had probably carried the worry alone.


Many tragic suicides are caused by the worry of debt (and for every suicide there are ten attempted suicides). If those people had been able to talk about their problems, who knows what kind of future they may have had?

Talk to someone

Don’t just worry about debt. Instead look for a way to deal with it. There are many people and organisations that can help.

Help is at hand

CCCS (and the other debt advice charities: see below) are on hand to help.

All of them can help those in debt find ways to put their finances back on track.

Friends and family

Just talking to friends and family could be a good first step on the way to coping with the deep anxiety that money worries cause.


I had intended to add some thoughts of my own to this; but I think that the article says what needs to be said. I’ve just added information about organisations that can help; see below.






Citizens Advice (“The CAB”)

 Free advice provider; registered charity. Funders include central and local government, charitable trusts, companies and individuals.

Face-to-face interviews and telephone advice available at local Citizens Advice Bureaux (CABs). Find your nearest bureau in the phone directory, or search at

E-mail advice available at some CABs

Advice line: 0844 499 4718

Online help also available:

CCCS (Consumer Credit Counselling Service)

Free advice provider; registered charity. Supported almost entirely by the credit industry.

Telephone counselling 0800 138 1111

Online help

National Debtline

 Free advice provider; registered charity. Part of the Money Advice Trust, (see below) funded by a mix of private sector donations and Government grants.

Phone advice and free factsheet orders: 0808 808 4000

Credit Action

Money education charity, in partnership with CCCS (see above). Free online advice provider, plus the Spendometer (see Chapter 8), Money Manuals and other resources:

Their “Money Advice Map” signposts to local debt advice centres:






AdviceUK (to find a local money advice centre)

020 7407 4070


Debtors Anonymous (worldwide community with telephone & online meetings)

… and to find contact details for local meetings inUK:


Mind (charity & helpline that helps with mental health problems)

0845 7660 163


Samaritans (confidential emotional support)

0845 790 9090


Saneline (support for mental illness)

0845 767 8000


Shelter (free housing advice helpline)

0808 800 4444


For the “Independent” article in full: LINK


For info about my book “Back to the Black: how to become debt-free and stay that way” (paperback and eBook): LINK



I appear to be stalking Simon Read of The Independent. If so, that’s because payday loans are again in the news and this is a story and a cause he has taken up and because he writes well on the subject.

The latest twist in the story: research by Shelter (a UK housing charity) reveals around seven million people are turning to credit to try to keep a roof over their heads.

A million use payday loans to cover rent or mortgage

In the past year alone, almost one in seven of those – i.e. just under one million people – have resorted to payday (i.e. emergency) loans to cover rent or mortgage payments.

The Independent has warned that payday lenders are cashing in on the struggles of millions who are unable to borrow from mainstream lenders and those companies charge interest rates of up to 5,000 per cent.

The impressive Campbell Robb, CEO of Shelter, said that this “… shows the extent to which millions of households across the country are desperately struggling to keep their home.

“Turning to short-term payday loans to help pay for the cost of housing is totally unsustainable. It can quickly lead to debts snowballing out of control and to eviction or repossession and ultimately homelessness.”

 What’s the alternative?

I cannot disagree with anything that’s been said above. It’s a sad state of affairs and I’ve no doubt payday loan companies in general are cashing in on the misery, despite what was said by the boss of Wonga to Simon Read and which I reported in an earlier post. There have been calls for these firms to be outlawed. But for the people who feel they have no alternative, what will they do if that happens?

Anyone in debt crisis who consults an adviser at one of the debt charities – such Citizens Advice or National Debtline or CCCS, here in the UK – would probably be told to avoid payday loans. But I wonder how many of the million people mentioned in Shelter’s report have actually talked to such an adviser.

I know that these resources are stretched; and as the charities reply to some extent on grants from the public sector, they may well become even more stretched because of spending cutbacks.

Need for financial advice

I don’t know the full answer – and of course it’ll be different in every case – but wider access to free, impartial and high-quality financial advice must be part of it. What’s more, financial education has to have a higher priority than it does now.


For the Simon Read article (4 Jan) click here:

For information about my book “Back to the Black”, click here:






I heard recently about what seems an excellent source of independent advice for anyone with mortgage payment problems. My informant in this case was that much-hyped, but also much-maligned, social networking and microblogging service: Twitter.

Twitter the time-waster?

Many people (including many of my friends) are scornful of Twitter, calling it nothing more than a self-indulgent waste of time and / or a gossip-mill. I used to be one of them.

However, now that I use Twitter more-or-less regularly, I find it worth the effort of keeping up with the sure, there is some rubbish on there. But if I see that one of the people I “follow” tells me nothing more interesting than where they went for coffee or what movie they planned to see tonight, then I hit that useful button called “unfollow”. For those of you who find themselves swamped with “too much information” but who have never found the “unfollow” button, that’ll be because it is not obvious. If you are following sometone who flooding your timeline with dross, find their profile and you’ll see a large green icon with a tick, and the word “following”. Simply hover your cursor over  that icon and the green changes to red amnd the word “unfollow” appears. Simply click and hey presto, that person is now an ex-followee.

Twitter the information goldmine?

On the positive side, and I do like to be positive, the amount of useful stuff I have first heard about on Twitter has been massive.

Many (but by no means all) of the people I follow are financial journalists or related experts. Some of them are household names and they appear regularly on TV talking about the national economic situation, such as Paul Mason; some write for the newspapers; some are independent advisers.

YouGov guide for hard-pressed mortgage-holders

One of these very journalists recently recommended on his Twitter feed a very useful guide for hard-pressed mortgage-holders. It is published by those helpful people at YouGov (i.e. the government). So I think you’d have to agree it is free of commercial bias.

I have to admit that I can’t remember who recommended this guide, otherwise I’d give him or her a credit. And as it was a week or so back, trawling through my Twitter feed to find this particular recommendation would take too long. Moreover it would keep me from an important task; switching on the TV at 2 pm to watch Shane Williams’ last international rugby match:Walesv.Australiaat the Millennium Stadium. Bound to be an emotional occasion; however the famously competitive Australians are unlikely to cooperate by making it easy for him to cap his career with (yet another) try.

PS: the result went against Wales, in the event. As a keen supporter of that country’s rugby, I have to admit that the scoreline flattered them slightly, because the aforementioned and surely legendary Shane Williams skipped out of a tackle and ran in for a try in the final minute (in fact the 81st) of his final match for Wales. You couldn’t have scripted it better and from the crowd’s reaction you’d have thought that Wales had won the World Cup at that moment.

Citizens Advice Guide

Finally: I would suggest that this YouGov guide should be read in conjunction with the excellent information and personal advice available from Citizens Advice (the CAB).


For “Mortgages and repossessions: a YouGov guide”, go to:

Topics covered:

Struggling with your mortgage payments? Put together a simple action plan to help you keep your home

What you can do to avoid repossession – a guide

What you can do if you are facing repossession to make sure you keep your home

Mortgage advice – who to see and what to take

Where to get advice about managing housing costs and how your lender may be able to help you manage your mortgage payments

What to do if your mortgage lender takes you to court

What to do if your lender takes action to repossess your home, and how repossession can be postponed

Housing advice – how to get free legal help in court

Make sure you attend your court hearing and find out how to get free legal help on the day

Mortgage Rescue scheme

This scheme may help if you are having difficulties making mortgage repayments and are in danger of becoming homeless


For Citizens Advice (CAB) AdviceGuide:


Today I read a great piece from Simon Read of the Independent, calling for the wider availability of financial advice. I posted a comment as follows:


Great piece! More strength to your pen! I absolutely support your call for wider availability of quality financial advice; ten years ago I narrowly avoided personal bankruptcy and found a better solution with the help of two excellent advisers at the local CAB; but not everyone is as lucky and I know what the queues are like at the CAB in Bristol.

Have RTed your tweet.

I too quoted Mr Micawber in a book about my debt experiences (“Back to the Black: how to become debt-free and stay that way”). The version of Micawber I used was worded slightly differently from yours, in that mine was income / expenditure, ending: “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds, ought and six, result misery.”

The debt-to-income comparison you mention is interesting. I found some alarming debt / income ratios in the Times a year or so back, which I interpreted in my book as follows:

As Credit Action’s website succinctly puts it: “Individuals owe more than what the whole country produces in a year.”

The trend of increasing personal indebtedness, a by-product of our consumer culture, certainly contributed to the financial crisis.

In early 2010, a typical UK household containing one wage-earner on average pay has, according to the Halifax (a division of the Bank of Scotland plc), outstanding mortgage debt that’s equivalent to 507% of income (i.e. of the ONS figure for average annual income). By way of comparison, the UK Government’s ratio of debt to income – a ratio that was widely castigated as unsustainable during the election campaign of spring 2010 – was “only” 170%. (“Worried about national debt? Mr & Mrs Average are in a far worse state”: Ian King, Deputy Business Editor, The Times, 19 Feb 2010) Go figure, as my American friends might say.

Most personal debt is of course, at least in the UK, secured mortgage debt: levels of home ownership have traditionally been higher here than in most other European countries. It has always been considered that mortgage debt is safe debt; that was true for as long as the housing market continued its customary rise but at times of recession in the housing market …. Etc, etc

One could also add the risk of rate increases leading to a rise in the numbers of mortgages in arrears, repossession or forbearance … a number that’s already high, as you mention.



To see Simon Read’s original piece (The Independent, 16 July 2011):

To sample or purchase (£0.70 / $0.99) my eBook on managing debt:


A BBC investigation has found that some debt management companies have been holding on to clients’ cash rather than paying it to creditors, The practice has left many debtors thousands of pounds worse off and facing financial ruin.

If a firm goes out of business and client funds have not been kept in a protected account, some or all of the money is likely to be lost and the debtor becomes liable for the shortfall.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has condemned the practice as “totally unacceptable” and has promised a crackdown.

Repossession order

One couple mentioned in the report had to put their house on the market and could face repossession, after responding to a cold-call from a debt management company and taking out a Debt Management Plan or DMP.

That company, Global Debt Solutions, based in Bolton, offered to arrange a repayment plan for £40,000 of credit card debt and loans. However, after having made payments to Global Debt Solutions for several months, the couple found the money was not being handed over to creditors.

Those creditors have successfully taken the couple to court, so they now have County Court Judgements against them. They’ll also have to go to court on their mortgage, so their debt problems have got far worse instead of being solved. It could soon be at a point where they’ll lose their home.

A widespread practice?

Global Debt Solutions, later known as 3 Step Finance, has been shut down by the Insolvency Service, which found that it did not monitor payments properly.

However, it has emerged that other companies have adopted the same tactic of accepting money from people in debt and not passing it on to creditors.

OFT action

A debtor taking out a DMP with a company using this tactic runs a real risk that the company might fail while the funds are in its account.

David Fisher from the Office of Fair Trading is promising action. “We regard the practice as unacceptable,” he warns. “Where we have evidence we will remove a company’s consumer credit licence, which means it cannot operate.

“We will also next month (i.e. June 2011) be issuing stronger rules for the entire sector, which explain what we expect of them.”

That is welcome news but sadly it is already too late for those debtors who are already dealing, or will soon be dealing, with a repossession order for their home.

Conclusion: take impartial advice

I conclude by saying what I always say: before making any important financial decision – including taking out a Debt Management Plan with a commercial company – take advantage of the free and impartial debt advice which is available these days. I stress the word “impartial”, because some advice is advertised as free but is not impartial, i.e. the organisation has a commercial motive for advising a certain course of action.

The advice you’ll get from the three major national charities working in this field – Citizens Advice, National Debtline and Consumer Credit Counselling Services – is indeed both free and impartial.

There are also many similar (i.e. “not-for-profit”) organisations that operate at a local level but check out carefully that they indeed “not-for-profit” before taking their advice. You can also refer to the Resources section of my book “Back to the Black: how to become debt-free and stay that way”; there you’ll find contact details for about 50 advice organisations.



The full BBC story is at:

My book “Back to the Black: how to become debt-free and stay that way”, is available on the following retail sites:

Kindle Store:

Smashwords store for other e-formats, including .pdf:



A few years ago, when severely in debt, I avoided opening letters from banks and credit card companies. So I couldn’t begin the process of getting out of debt, because I didn’t have a clear picture of my situation.

However, I found that when I bit the bullet and analysed my situation in detail, I felt better! Knowing the facts, no matter how bad, is better than living with a “sword of Damocles” hanging overhead.

If you too have been ignoring those letters, please start opening them now.

Sorting that paperwork

1.       Bank statements. Overdraft? How much?

2.       Credit card / store card statements

3.       Invoices from other creditors

4.       Tax correspondence (if self-employed)

5.       “Informal” liabilities, e.g. loans from friends / family

When you’ve totalled the debts in categories 1-5, now list the positive side of your “personal balance sheet”, i.e.

6.       Estimates of the value of your assets: property; car; cash at bank (if your account’s in the black); shares; insurance policies; money owed to you, including refunds; occupational pension funds [if you’re old enough to consider cashing them in]; anything that could be turned into cash if necessary.

Now prioritise your debts, as follows:

  • Priority: “roof-over-your-head” and essential utilities, for example:
    • mortgage or rent arrears (you could lose your home)
    • other debts secured on your home (same result)
    • Council Tax (they can send in the bailiffs)
    • gas & electricity (they can cut you off)
    • water (though they cannot).
  • Non-priority: all other services you need, e.g. car loan; home or mobile phone; credit cards; all other creditors.

Income and expenditure

Now you’ve assessed your liabilities and your assets, you need to evaluate your income and expenditure. It’s a “profit and loss statement” for your life, based on your current spending pattern. Then do another, based on your “survival budget”.

You’ll need a table or spreadsheet: money advisers at your local CAB (Citizens Advice) can provide a form.

Putting it in perspective: “key ratios”

Now analyse your total debt relative to your income; also to your assets. What multiple of your net monthly income is your total debt? What percentage of your net worth? These are what I call your personal “key ratios”.

Now you are in a better position to develop your options and choose the solution that works for you.

Discretionary income

A final question: what’s your discretionary income? What’s left after tax and essential expenditure? (Not after your usual expenditure: the answer to that question might be zero, as it was for me)

Whether you think you can repay debts in full or make a partial offer, you’ll need to maximise this “discretionary income”. That’ll involve tough decisions about “needs versus wants”: between what’s essential to your life and what you see as essential to your lifestyle.


The above is an extract from Chapter 5 of my book “Back to the Black: how to become debt-free and stay that way”

Want to know more?

“Back to the Black: how to become debt-free and stay that way”, is now available as a multi-format eBook, to sample (first 20% free) or buy, at Smashwords:

It is also in the Kindle store but only the first 10% is free (sorry: Amazon’s rules, not mine).


The good people at “Moneywise” magazine have recently published (Jan 2011 edition) a story about bankruptcy, which contains a useful summary of the danger signs that debts might be running out of control.

  1. You use your credit card to buy groceries or to pay bills, not knowing when you’ll be able to clear the balance.
  2. Applying for a new credit card, loan or extension on your overdraft is the only way that you can get ready cash for daily expenditure or to service existing debts.
  3. Your debt is mushrooming because you either only make minimum payments each month or are unable to pay off any money owed.
  4. If you have started to miss monthly repayments on your credit card or, worse still, you are in arrears on your mortgage, you need to seek immediate help. Contact creditors to see if you can make reduced payments or have a mortgage break while you sort out your finances.
  5. If you are not opening bills and are screening calls from creditors, seek advice. Ignoring payments will not make them go away and the problem will only get worse.

The article contains some interesting case studies, of three people who had to file for bankruptcy: 32-year old Emma Smith from Milton Keynes; 54-year-old Terry Donaldson from Huddersfield and 27-year-old Michelle Cheston from Newcastle.

I noticed one unusual silver lining to these three clouds. There are costs associated with going bankrupt (typically about £600) but, as the article mentions, Michelle had served in the RAF. Not for long, because she could only have been 24 when she left the service. However, her adviser at Citizens Advice told her she could apply for help to the Royal British Legion. She did; and they paid all her fees. As I mention in my book “Back to the Black”, the Legion’s support is a benefit that is open to anyone who’s served in the UK armed forces, even for a relatively short time.


Want to know more?

  1. Want a copy of the full Moneywise article? Go to
  2. Want to view, free of charge, the first 20% of my multi-format eBook “Back to the Black: how to become debt-free and stay that way?” Go to:


Earlier this year, during an interview on Heart FM, I was asked about payday loans: would I advise anyone who was especially cash-strapped (for example as a result of Christmas), to take out one of these loans? This is a tricky matter: anyone considering any such loan must have exhausted all other possibilities.

Payday loans, usually for sums up to £1,000 ($1,500), are known to carry very high interest rates. Those rates could be affordable if it’s the only game in town AND if the loan really is repaid quickly, i.e. on payday, but if it’s rolled over then the problem starts. However, they are marketed as being instantly available, which of course is very attractive when things are tight.


So the attractions are:

• Instant availability, even if you have a poor credit record
• Lack of bureaucracy, with a simple application method
• The fact that it’s cash: a cheque is less useful if you have to pay it in to a bank account with a maxed-out overdraft, though of course cheque / cash converter shops have foreseen that problem.
• The fact that it’s local, with a collector who probably lives near you.

If there is no alternative, and if the sum borrowed is repaid at the next payday, then paying that interest (high rate but small sum) is better than having to default on the mortgage or a credit card bill.


The problem arises, of course, if the sum isn’t paid quickly. Then, of course, it will become more and more difficult to repay, because of that very high interest rate. I could publish a table showing how the sum owing would build up at those very high interest rates: but that would be very depressing for you and for me.

Should you do it?

In the radio interview I said that if anyone was in a situation where they saw no alternative solution, then they should take the loan, provided they immediately got help from one of the debt advice charities, for example the CAB (Citizens Advice), or CCCS (Consumer Credit Counselling Services), or National Debtline, or one of the many local “not-for-profit” debt advisory services, and put together a plan. Step one of that plan must be to repay the payday loan as a first priority.

I still stand by that advice.

Those interest rates, by the way

In order to check my facts after that interview, I found a website that lists the top 5 payday loan providers (the “top 5” ranking is by “rough estimate of lender’s approval rates”). I found the APRs of these lenders varied from over 990% to over 2300%. Eye-watering stuff, if you can’t repay quickly.

For extra info see the MoneySavingExpert website, for example this post: . That article talked about interest rates (APR) “up to 1500%”. As you can see above, I found some rates to be even higher.

Credit Unions: an alternative

Credit unions are an alternative and much cheaper source of short-term finance that people in this situation could look at: an alternative, in fact, to high-street lenders as well as to payday loans.

The local one here in Bristol, for example, is at; they offer loans from £100 to £7,500 ($150 to $11,250). Their website says: “By law credit unions cannot charge any more than 2% per month on the reducing balance of a loan. This represents a maximum interest rate of 26.8% APR (Annual Percentage Rate), and that is the most you will ever pay on your loan.”

Worth checking out? 26.8% sounds better than those payday loans.

Taking advice

If you are in debt, and whether or not you are considering a payday loan, I always bang on about the need to get help as soon as possible. That should preferably come from an independent, impartial (i.e. not-for-profit) advice service such as the local CAB (that’s the Citizens Advice Bureau, for the benefit of any readers of this blog who are not in the UK) or CCCS (Consumer Credit Counselling Service) or National Debtline. Then you need to formulate a plan with the help of that advice, and inform the creditors that is what you’re doing and ask them to freeze interest while that’s happening.

Many creditors will agree to that, but if you don’t ask you don’t get. Many debtors spend too long in denial and they don’t communicate with their creditors, which makes the situation worse. I know: I was one of those.

In fact my book’s subtitle could even be “Learn from my mistakes”.

Christmas is coming!

At the top of this post I mentioned Christmas. This is a good time to say that one way of avoiding payday loans is to cut down spending. Don’t cut down on the fun but do cut down on the presents!

As I say in my book: “Christmas is not an emergency.” (it comes every year)


“Back to the Black: how to become debt-free and stay that way”, is now available as a multi-format eBook at Smashwords to sample (view or download the first 20% free) or to buy at only $3.99. Go to: