It’s rare for me to write something on my site that turns out to be topical.

A couple of times in the last few years I’ve been a guest of Steve Yabsley on BBC Radio Bristol. The last time I was talking about my wedding speech book.

‘Yabbo’ is a really excellent presenter, who clearly does his homework before interviews. He seemed to know more about my life than I do.

I can’t give you a link to enable you to judge for yourself, as the recordings are time-sensitive and that  particular link has expired.

Why is this topical? Because the BBC in its wisdom has just had (at the time of writing, early May 2023) a root-and-branch clearout of its local radio staff. Therefore Yabbo is leaving. Whether he jumped or was pushed I don’t know. But this new policy seems misguided to me, especially what we now know about the salaries paid to its ‘top’ stars. I like Gary Lineker greatly but he’s known to earn well over £1 million. How many Yabbos in the BBC local radio world would that sum employ?



Want to know more about the book that interested Yabbo?

The Wedding Speech Handbook is available as an eBook, and as paperback and hard-cover too. See the link in the sidebar.

[If you’re based outside the UK, when the link opens simply substitute the suffix of your local Amazon site for ‘’]


… is my writing brand, or series title. It’s all about sharing what I’ve learned from my own experiences, before I totally forget what it was all about.


wedding pic 1I was talking to ‘Yabbo’ about The Wedding Speech Handbook. The decision to make this the first in what I plan to be a series about public speaking, was prompted by the fact that in the last couple of years I’ve coached several people who were speaking at weddings. It was a very rewarding experience for me; and it reminded me that on this most important day there are extra pressures, in addition to the usual ones that attend public speaking. Then in 2017 my elder daughter was married. Preparing to speak at her wedding reminded me what I’ve always known: it’s not easy! I delayed completion of my book until after that wonderful event, which gave me the opportunity to add what I’d learned.

However … despite the fact that I’ve been speaking in public for over 40 years, I was more nervous for that speech than ever before.



My first book, Back to the Black: how to become debt-free and stay that way, was also based on personal experience: my own recovery from debt. It’s intended as a manual for the ever-increasing number of people facing debt problems. If what I wrote helps you to get out of debt, the book will have served its purpose.

Cover imageIn this book, I use my experience of coaching and debt counselling to propose a structured approach to the problem, reducing the inevitable stress of the situation and makes it easier to get back to the black.

Why did I write it?

Put simply: a few years ago I went through a severe debt crisis. I had turned a blind eye to the problem and came very close to bankruptcy. With the help and support of a friends and a few professionals, I eventually came through the experience without permanent scars to my spirit and credit rating. After I managed to clear my debts and get back to the black, I decided to write a book from the perspective of someone who has been there, had the problem and found a way through it.

‘Back to the Black: how to become debt free and stay that way’ is primarily aimed at people going through what I went through. If you have debts that have reached, or are reaching, problem proportions – whether those debts are personal, business or a combination of both – then this book is for you.

Reading it will help you to …

  • Look at your debt problem in the same way a coach or counsellor would.
  • Learn the three main strategies to become debt-free.
  • Learn  many tactics for handling stress, formulating a plan, negotiating with creditors and much more.

You’ll read my story: where I went wrong and how my debts built up to the point of becoming unmanageable; how and where I found unbiased advice and support; and how I found the solutions that eventually got me out of debt.

Most importantly, though, you’ll learn what I hope you’ll find to be a logical and step-by-step process to decide what’s the best option in your situation.


You’ll find chapters on the stress caused by debt and how to deal with it; on how to formulate your debt management goals; on how best to evaluate your current situation; and on how to develop a list of options for how to get from where you are now to where you want to be. Then I deal with the main strategies for bridging that gap.

The book concludes with a comprehensive “Resources” section, including contact details for a wide range of organisations that can provide you with one-to-one assistance that’s tailored to your personal situation.

There are many reasons why we get into debt and debt problems often result from a combination of circumstances, rather than from a single cause. In my own case, the primary cause was the gradual failure of a business I had started a few years before; however that problem was made worse by the fact that I just expected things to improve, so I carried on spending. It is my contention, however, that whatever caused you to get into debt, the principles for getting out of debt are the same.


The reviews of Back to the Black on Amazon UK currently average 4.8 stars out of 5. Here are representative extracts:

“It’s not often I come across a book about Money that’s easy to read. It’s the kind of book that with my 43 years experience as an Independent Financial Advisor I would have loved to have written. Michael has drawn on his own stressful experience of facing up to possible bankruptcy and written an easy to read no nonsense guide on how to become debt free and stay that way.
I highly recommend this excellent book to young and old. It’s filled with great tips. Go read it.” Alan Steel, CEO, Alan Steel Asset Management

“This book is impressive – the writing is so good.
It is very touching – Michael has been through a very hard situation, and he is open about it.
It is informative – it shows concrete ways to get out of a debt situation, in addition to the pitfalls one could easily run into. And it is optimistic – Michael managed to free himself from debt. This shows that it is possible!” Erle Bryn

“Written from the author’s own bitter experience, ‘Back to the Black’ has a readability rarely seen in this genre. Although intended for those suffering financial crisis, it is written with a ‘glass half full’ attitude and is jam packed with such useful information and sound advice that I could recommend it to anyone.” Peter Dalby

“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.” The Bagster

“THE book on managing debt! This is a heartfelt book by an author who has clearly experienced life’s ups and downs – and come up smiling. It makes essential reading for anyone needing clearly laid-out help… The very frank endorsement in the Foreword by the Finance Editor of The Independent is in itself one of the best recommendations that a book can receive.” Nick B T

“I am getting out of debt by following the advice in this book. Michael’s advice is straightforward, and many light-bulbs went on in my head when I read his no-nonsense approach to disposable income. After years of having my head in the sand, I sat down, took a look at my finances and really thought about my outgoings….By thinking carefully about how I choose to spend my money and being mindful of where it all goes, I am moving closer to being in the black. This is definitely due to buying Michael’s book and following his advice. The steps Michael outlines could really help you. It’s working for me!” Fritzy

“This is a self-help book written from the heart and the intellect, an effective combination. McMahon takes the reader through his own and other case studies to move him or her from denial to facing reality. A working plan should be the result of the read, facilitated and encouraged by the author’s helpful breakdown of information. Back to the Black is well-written, accessible and thoughtfully structured to aid the worried debtor. Its neat size and subtle use of ‘debt’ in sub-title, not blazened on the main heading, ensure that the book can be slid into pocket or handbag, and read on the train without embarrassment. I was given this book for a fair and honest review. I can highly recommend it.” Rosalind Minett

“This book is written using the very useful resource of first hand experience which makes it very poignant and useful. The three approaches to escaping the downward spiral of the effects of debt are practical and easy to follow. It is written with humour and gives the reader the comfort that they are not alone in experiencing the misery that financial problems can bring.” Stella

“I think it’s a good idea for everyone to read books like this now and again, to nip bad financial management habits in the bud, and to realise how easy it is to slip into deep debt. I’d put the advice in this book on a par with the wonderful Alvin Hall’s books and broadcasts on personal financial management, but with a more British angle and with the added advantage of being written from the perspective of someone who has himself been to the edge of bankruptcy and back.” Debbie Young

“This is a great book, well-written and enjoyable to read… If you have issues with debt, get this book and sort it out now.” Alan Y

To see all the reviews click HERE.


Back to the Black is available as a Kindle ebook or paperback, through Amazon’s US site or through, or to order from all good bookshops.

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