Marguerite Valentine, Bristol

Back to the Black … how to become debt-free and stay that way

The author, of ‘Back to the Black’, Michael MacMahon, writes with compassion and some humour about being in debt. After all, he’s been there, so the experience has given him some authority, as well as an insight into the subsequent problems.

Michael takes the perspective of a coach advocating a rational approach to getting a grip on debt, which means facing the facts, analysing your financial situation, deciding on a personal strategy to make sense of what’s gone wrong, and what might work best for you to put things right.

He  considers why people get into debt; obvious things like a dip in the economy which if you own a business may create problems in investment or the less obvious, like the costs arising out of a divorce And then, of course, there’s ‘discretionary spending’, which is ‘spending ’ to buy things, which you could, in reality, do without.

I found his short case studies really interesting. He showed how some financial event, which in itself was minor, can, if not handled  properly,  snowball into something frighteningly out of control. He proposes three possible strategies, one’s choice depending not only on the factual circumstances but how one views working with each possibility.

The final part suggests strategies to avoid a recurrence. There’s also an extremely helpful list of resources, such as charities, templates for possible letters, and a glossary with explanations of financial terminology.

For those in debt, or fear the recurrence of debt,  ‘Back to Black’ is a straightforward account of what to do and where to go for help. The tone is reassuring, informal, and informed, and reading his book as someone with very little experience of financial matters, I found it interesting and it made sense! It can’t get better than that.

Marguerite Valentine


John Lynch, Shropshire

Back to the Black: How to become debt-free and stay that way (Telling Experience Book 1) (Kindle Edition)

I’m giving this book 5 stars, which I don’t often do, because it’s extremely well-written, pulls no punches, and doesn’t waste time on exhortations. What I most want to say about it, though, is that the title and the blurb both do the book a disservice in that the impression you get is that this is simply a book that tells you how, if you are in debt, to get out of it. It’s much more than that. What the author has produced, based on what is clearly a long and successful life, is a series of lessons on how to conduct yourself in general and how to get the best results and achieve your dreams. You could get a great deal out of this book if you didn’t owe a penny. I learned an awful lot about sane and healthy mental practices, and I don’t have a debt problem. As a refreshing change to some of the half-baked Life Manuals that are out there by people a quarter of McMahon’s age and a tenth of his experience, I recommend this as a very good read.

Pete Judge, Bristol

“I highly recommend Michael MacMahon’s coaching. His lightly-worn wisdom, and unflappably clear thinking, have been a constant source of inspiration and encouragement”

Lisa Middle, Bristol

Crafting a speech to deliver at a national conference, it dawned on me how far I’d come since I first started coaching with Michael MacMahon. I had, during 6 sessions, become able to focus on the task knowing I could complete it with aplomb. I was now able to recognise the success I had, not just to look at how far I still had to travel, separate my to-do list into urgent and important jobs and not spend too much time looking at the frogs I had to eat!

Michael had listened to me carefully, remembering from one session to the next the vital points I had made. He had thought hard about what would benefit me to talk through and directed me kindly to what made the difference. He made me laugh unfailingly with tiny anecdotes which illustrated the insightful discoveries I made weekly under his careful coaching.

His skilful coaching encouraged me to achieve where I had previously been diverted by possible failure, with a different confidence that now underpins all areas of my life. I would heartily recommend working with him to anyone who feels they could probably do more and be happier doing it.

Patsy Bevan, Newquay, Cornwall

I first met Michael my life coach (although we did not know it then) at a two day seminar hosted by the Coaching Academy in Bristol, when I was considering becoming a life coach. We exchanged our email addresses and I am so glad we did.

Due to a promotion at work I decided I did not have the time to commit to life coaching yet in my career but after meeting with Michael I was overwhelmed by his ability to listen and empathise with my life story, so a few months later I decided to contact him regarding some help and advice in writing  my memoir.

That was when he informed me that he was considering taking up the coaching course with the Coaching Academy and could offer me six free sessions as part of his training.

I was over the moon and our journey started just over three months ago and I am truly amazed as to what we’ve managed to achieve in just six sessions of coaching with Michael.

Our sessions were very informative with clear achievable goal setting between us, it has enabled me to focus on my future and empower me to achieve my dreams.

The coaching sessions with Michael not only increased my desire to self-write and publish my memoir but it has also helped me in so many other unexpected areas of my life., inspiring me to overcome the nerves of public speaking and give me the knowledge to support my colleagues with the importance of setting  for goals themselves.

At the end of each session Michael would encourage me to rate my confidence in achieving my set goals from 1 to 10 and I feel this increased my desire to complete each goal I set myself.

So……… on a scale of 1 to 10 how would I rate Michael as my life coach ?  he would definitely  be a fantastic 10.

 I feel Michael has helped me unlock my potential to maximise my own performance not only in my personal life goals but at work too.

Michael has been a great life coach and has become a good friend.

Patsy Bevan

Future Author and Public Speaker etc etc the list hopefully goes on and on.

Thank You Michael.


“Amazon customer” (Amazon reviewer, UK)

A book that could just save your sanity.

With the present economic situation, all too many people are finding their finances are falling apart. What is important is not to to keep pretending its not happening. This is the book to help you face up to reality and start your journey back to financial stability. It is full of practical ideas, information, options and tools that will help you. Amongst these tools are appendices that contain helpful guides as to how to write to your creditors.

Let’s hope you never need the advice in this book. However, whether you’re already there or not, it is well worth while gaining the knowledge to be found here to help you.

“Enoch Press” (reviewer on Amazon’s US site)

Have you ever had debt?

If the answer is yes then you need this book. We all had (at least most of us) periods in our lives where money was tight. This book doesn’t just help dealing with those days when you are in them but helps preventing them from coming back.

Certainly he has great experience and he is a good communicator.

Rob, UK

Not just for people in the RED.

This book was recommended to me by a friend of mine for a variety of reasons and I must say I love it.

I would go as far to call it a must-read regardless of your current or past indebtedness! The insights in the book are just so deep and pearls of wisdom start to pop up from the early start.

I particularly enjoyed the studies mentioned in chapter two as well as the following story. I won’t spoil this for you by telling you, but make sure you read those.

Well worth the money even for such a strained budget as the one before bankruptcy.

Christine Lawson, UK

Didn’t learn anything. 

Like most of the population, I wanted to find out if there was anything more I could do to help myself survive in this financial climate. I already do most of the things Mike Macmahon advises. So it didn’t help me. I’m afraid what I need is a better paid job and I would break even.

Tobias Roote, Corfu

A useful handbook for living within your means. 

This is a been there, done that, got the T shirt book. In other words it’s written by someone who knows the issues and learned to deal with them. Worth the small change it costs to put it in your library and read it in a spare moment when you cannot afford to go down the pub.