My book, “Back to the Black: how to become debt-free and stay that way”, is now available as an eBook on the “Smashwords” site.

Ten years ago I ran up heavy debts when my business collapsed. I had started a training business seven years before, after a long career in the chemical industry. When my enterprise ran into difficulties, credit was easy, so I could fund it with loans and credit cards. In the short term this plugged the gap; I thought things would improve. They didn’t.

So I closed the business down, looked for a job, and tried to work out how to solve my debt problem. My first intention was to pay off everything I owed but I knew it would take time. I didn’t think I could get the debts down to a manageable level in less than five to ten years; my creditors would not give me that kind of time.

My financial adviser recommended bankruptcy. I had by then sunk all my assets into the business, so he said that there could never be a better time for me to go bankrupt. For many reasons I didn’t want to do that although after a fairly short period, I would have been debt-free. The advantages and disadvantages of bankruptcy – and its modern alternative, the IVA (Individual Voluntary Arrangement) – are set out in detail in the book; recent developments have taken away some of the former stigma and the practical disadvantages of these solutions.

However, I decided instead that I would negotiate a deal with my creditors myself. This approach I call “Plan C – negotiate a deal” – and you’ll find it in Chapter 10 of the book. I made an offer to all my creditors for full and final settlement. Eventually all of them, apart from the taxman, agreed to the deal.

At the time, I thought my debt problem was insurmountable. It was a very stressful period. However, I was lucky to have the support of a debt advice agency and other professionals and friends.

I came through the experience; I learned a lot.

I was not, and am not, happy with the fact that I was unable to pay my debts in full. After the event, however, I decided to write up what had happened, partly for my own benefit. I even thought that maybe it would make a couple of newspaper articles. If other people with debt problems could benefit from reading about my mistakes and what I’d learned, then something good would have come out of it all.

Those articles eventually grew into a book – “Back to the Black” – which sets out what I call the three main strategies for dealing with debt. It also contains lots of advice for dealing with debt-related stress and with the demands of creditors.

In summary, my book is based not on a theoretical approach to debt, but on painful experience. I hope that you can benefit from reading about that experience. If you have debts, whether they are consumer debts or business debts or both, the principles for dealing with them are the same. The experiences you are going through, though unique to your situation, will have much in common with mine.

Go to www.smashwords.com/books/view/22886 if you’d like to know more.

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