advice centreOne of the debt charity StepChange’s  advisers moved on earlier this year. His farewell blog post was very informative: a good example of the advice that’s available regularly on their blog. I am sure he – and StepChange – will not object to my quoting it.

“Six truths about debt I’ve found from working at StepChange Debt Charity” (Matthew Cooper)

Truth 1: Creditors will generally accept your best offer of payment

Provided that they are convinced it really is your best offer, I’ve usually thought this to be true. But Matthew’s evidence in support of the theory is amazing: only one proposal rejected … out of 300!

“My job was to give advice on debt solutions and draft the actual individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) documents for clients. I drafted around 300 IVA proposals in about two years. All but one of them were accepted by creditors. I learned that if you make your best offer to creditors they’ll generally be willing to accept.”

Truth 2: Debt can happen to anyone

That’s something I found when researching stories for my book ‘Back to the Black.’ Matthew confirms this:

“While working as an IVA drafter I heard many stories of how people ended up in debt. In most cases debt problems are caused by life-changing events such as unemployment, relationship breakdown, accident or illness.”

Truth 3: Bust out the budget

Here’s the painful part, when you move out of the “denial” phase and start to analyse your financial position. Some humourist once said “A budget is a mathematical confirmation of your suspicions” … but it’s surprisingly true that knowing the worst is less stressful, compared with suspecting the worst but not being sure. Then, when you have an accurate picture of your current situation, you can start to draft a budget (maybe a few versions for different scenarios: see my book) that’ll help you decide what to do next. Matthew says:

“In my time here I’ve helped a lot of clients to put together a budget; as someone who is keen on budgeting I was sometimes amazed that some had never put an accurate budget together before. Over the years I’ve seen the clients who paid careful attention to their budgets be successful in repaying their debts. I now spend at least an hour a week looking over my budget to make sure I stay on track. An emergency fund is also a vital part of a budget, whether you have debts or not.”

Truth 4: Credit isn’t necessarily bad

“I’ve learned that credit isn’t necessarily a bad thing in itself and, like most things in life, it can even be good in moderation. It’s vital not to over-commit yourself though and you should be prepared as your life can change at any time. Despite their bad press creditors aren’t all bad either, as long as you’re honest about your situation. As a charity we want to help the ‘can’t pays’ rather than the ‘won’t pays’; creditors tend to share this attitude.”

That’s an interesting statement right there at the end: the “can’t pays,” as he puts it, are the group that StepChange exists to help; and they are the group with whom creditors are more likely to negotiate reasonably.

Truth 5: Never pay for debt advice

Matthew says:

“I’ve also learnt that there is genuinely no need to EVER pay for debt advice. Our advisors are brilliantly trained and highly knowledgeable and will always strive to give the best advice for your personal situation. We’re not for profit but we are for giving best advice.”

Truth 6: My colleagues are great at helping people in debt

I’ve never spoken to those colleagues personally; my own crisis was back in the ‘90s. However, judging by the quality of the info on their blog, I would support that statement 100%. So I’m sure Matthew won’t mind if I repeat in full his plug for his colleagues:

“I’ve made some great friends while working for the charity and together we’ve served a great common cause – ‘free debt advice’. My colleagues are knowledgeable, committed, ethical, funny and warm and they treat people who contact us with a great deal of empathy and never judge them. It’s time for me to hand over to another person to take on my role now. I hope they enjoy it and learn as much as I did during my time with this great charity.”

Citizens Advice was the charity that helped me with my debt crisis, largely because they had a Bureau near me where I could have face-to-face meetings. However they are a generalist advice charity, whereas StepChange is a debt specialist.

And judging by their blog, an excellent one.


For Stepchange’s “Moneyaware” blog, click HERE.

For info about my book “Back to the Black”, click HERE.


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



According to the BBC news this morning, the UK’s Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly says clarity is needed about what bailiffs are legally allowed to do.

New proposals are in the pipeline, including a ban on the use of force. There’ll be detail on what items bailiffs cannot take from homes.

This is welcome news. However, as I say in my book “Back to the Black”, there is already a code of conduct about debt collection; a code that is often broken by debt collecting companies. Let’s hope that the new code of conduct for bailiffs will be better observed, or this will be a waste of time and money.

Here’s what I say in my book about the existing code:


It is illegal for creditors to harass debtors. The following definitions of harassment are taken from the website of the UK’s Office of Fair Trading (OFT). Sadly, I know from experience that many of these practices are used by many creditors.

 Physical/psychological harassment: putting pressure on debtors or third parties is considered to be oppressive. Examples of unfair practices are as follows: 

  • contacting debtors at unreasonable times and at unreasonable intervals
  • pressurising debtors to sell property, to raise funds by further borrowing or to extend their borrowing
  • using more than one debt collection business at the same time resulting in repetitive and/or frequent contact by different parties
  • not ensuring that an adequate history of the debt is passed on as appropriate resulting in repetitive and/or frequent contact by different parties
  • not informing the debtor when their case has been passed on to a different debt collector
  • pressurising debtors to pay in full, in unreasonably large instalments, or to increase payments when they are unable to do so
  • making threatening statements or gestures or taking actions which suggest harm to debtors
  • ignoring and/or disregarding claims that debts have been settled or are disputed and continuing to make unjustified demands for payment
  • disclosing or threatening to disclose debt details to third parties unless legally entitled to do so
  • acting in a way likely to be publicly embarrassing to the debtor either deliberately or through lack of care, for example, by not putting correspondence in a sealed envelope and putting it through a letterbox, thereby running the risk that it could be read by third parties.

 Source: OFT website, “Debt collection guidance: final guidance on unfair business practices.”



For the BBC News item on the proposed law changes: click here

For a link to my book “Back to the Black,” containing details of the existing UK code of practice governing debt collection: click here











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:


When I first started to plan and write my own book on debt (“Back to the Black” – see below) I naturally trawled the bookshops to skim, then buy and read, other books on the topic. I wanted to find out to what extent the subject had already been covered.  Was it worth writing another book, or had the subject been done to death already?


I found, to my surprise, that there were very few books on how to deal with personal debt problems. I bought and read most of them, because I didn’t want my book simply to rehash what had already been said. When I say there were very few books, I mean print books by British authors on the shelves of British bookshops. Of course there are far fewer British bookshops nowadays, but that’s another story.


I then found there were a few more that were only available as e-books, which is the way I decided to publish first. What I also found was that there were many, many more e-books by US authors. Of course that’s a bigger market (population five times higher) but there must be other reasons for the difference because it’s out of all proportion to that ratio. When I’ve figured it out I shall get back to the question in another post.


All that was a couple of years ago. Sitting on my desk today is a more recent addition to the market and I think it’s a valuable one. Its remit is wider than mine, which was simply about debt and how to handle it.

Sanni Kruger is a financial coach. She runs the local (Bristol, UK) branch of Debtors Anonymous and she’s published “Making Friends With Money: how to start feeling wealthy without waiting till you’re rich.” As the title suggests, her message is that it’s not just a matter of how much money you have; it’s also about attitude, about mind-set. Her chapter headings give a flavour of the content: feeling better about money; getting a grip on your finances; using cashflow planning to build your wealth; getting on top of debt; cashflow management from day to day; surviving the money jungle; the light at the end of the tunnel; and finally: achieving what really matters to YOU.


Ms Kruger’s background is in book-keeping and accounting, so it’s no surprise that there is plenty of detail here about budgeting and cashflow planning. That’s a subject that is a challenge for many people, including me. Perhaps it should be taught in schools but that’s another question. The coverage of this subject is sound, as you’d expect. However, the advice I liked best in this section of the book was to have two bank accounts; one main one which was simply and in-and-out vehicle for one’s regular / predictable income (be it wages or salary, benefits, pensions etc) and one’s committed / predictable expenditures, which should exit via direct debits; then you work out what’s left after the regular / committed expenditures and transfer that amount to the second account, which Ms Kruger calls the “D2D” (Day-to-Day) account. That way you get a better handle on how much you have available for discretionary purchases and for any expenditure which is regular but variable if you get my drift, e.g. food shopping. Keeping an eye on the balance in the D2D account tells me when I ought to go to Lidl / Aldi and when I could afford an occasional splurge at Waitrose.


That was very useful but in the last few chapters the book gets more into the bigger picture, or longer-term goals; right-brain thinking or whatever you want to call it. I liked the final chapter on “achieving what really matters to YOU” (Ms Kruger’s capitalisation) because that includes a kind of “hierarchy of needs” approach as it applies to money. To take as an example the specific area my book covers, she suggests these levels of debt repayment:

Level 1: nothing can be repaid

Level 2: more than zero, i.e. £1+ per month: (Ms Kruger, like me, knows that paying £1 / month to every creditor still has value)

Level 3: More than £25 / month to each creditor

Level 4: More than £200 / month to each creditor

Level 5: no debt to repay – ever again.

OK, the numbers will vary according to each person’s circumstance but the principle of working one’s way up the different levels seems good to me. Similarly on transport, she suggests that one might visualise progress (“a journey”, as they say)  from Level 1: “enough money for public transport; lifts from friends”; to Level 5: “new car of my dreams and the money for running costs etc etc, plus enough money in car replacement fund to change it at least every 2 years; public transport (first class) or taxis when desired.”

As you might guess from this section, the book closes with a further section entitled “living your dream.” Lots of other self-help books talk about that topic but Ms Kruger’s book gives people the practical tools to achieve it and the mindset to start feeling wealthy even before you become rich. Just as it says on the tin; or in the subtitle anyway. A worthwhile read.



On Sanni Kruger’s book “Making friends with money: how to start feeling wealthy without waiting till you’re rich”

Go to to order. Hard copy (comb-bound A4) £12; downloadable .pdf £7.20, or in four sections each £1.99

On my own book about managing debt, “Back to the Black: how to become debt-free and stay that way”.

eBook only. To sample for free, or purchase (all versions around £0.70 / $0.99):

  • Available in the Kindle store; click HERE:
  • Available in all e-formats, including .pdf, at Smashwords. Click HERE:


This month’s edition of the “Moneywise” magazine carries a supplement showing all the winners (and losers!) in their annual awards for service and trustworthiness. At a time when banks, and the financial services industry in general, have had many knocks to their corporate reputations, any good news is good news, if that makes sense.

Here is my totally unscientific extract, i.e. the awards that interested me most. And don’t worry, if you don’t subscribe to Moneywise (which is very good value; and I am not on commission!) you can access the info online; scroll down for the link.

In summary: First Direct dominated the awards, winning many categories. There were also awards for several organisations I’ve mentioned on this blog: Zopa, Yorkshire BS and Coventry BS.


Current account provider:

Winner: Smile. Highly Commended: First Direct. Trusted Providers: Clydesdale Bank, The Co-operative Bank, Nationwide, Yorkshire Bank

Credit card provider:

Winner: First Direct. Highly Commended: John Lewis. Trusted providers: Co-op Bank, M&S Money, Nationwide, Tesco Bank

Mortgage provider:

Winner: First Direct. Highly Commended: Coventry Building Soc. Trusted providers: Britannia, C&G, HSBC, Nationwide

Savings provider:

Winner: First Direct. Highly Commended: Coventry Building Society. Trusted providers: Britannia, Nationwide, Post Office, Yorkshire Building Society.

Personal loan provider:

Winner: Zopa. Highly Commended: First Direct. Trusted providers: Nationwide, NatWest, Sainsbury’s Bank, Tesco Bank

Overall “most trusted” provider: First Direct. Highly Commended: Nationwide.


In addition to the “most trusted” awards, there are also six service awards in each of 15 categories: go to the link below for details.


The magazine also named and shamed the outfits with the worst record. Sadly, out of seven categories, Santander came out worst in five and worst equal (with Halifax) in a sixth.  Moneywise got an interview and an apology from Steve Williams (Santander’s Director of Service Quality, not the Bristol West MP of the same name)



Awards details

For the full lists of all the Moneywise awards (winners, Highly Commended and shortlists / “trusted providers”) in all categories, with info on the survey’s  methodology; plus contact details for the companies they endorse (but not for those they name and shame!), go to: LINK

“Back to the Black”: my eBook on managing debt

To sample or purchase this debt advice book (£0.70 / $0.99):


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: