Taming Personal Debt (McGraw Hill Ryerson $14.99)

Five years ago Paul Sampson was $400,000 dollars in debt; two years later he was debt-free. His successful avoidance of personal bankruptcy helped him to write Taming Personal Debt (McGraw Hill Ryerson $14.99).

A record number of 93,860 consumers and businesses filed for bankruptcy in 1996 (a 19.3% increase from 1995) according to Industry Canada. "Visa and MasterCard credit card debt alone has increased from an unpaid balance of $11.4 billion in October 1992 to $18.7 billion by October 1996," says Sampson. That translates to a 64 per cent increase in four years.

Taming Personal Debt helps identify the warning signs of a possible financial crisis which include using credit cards to pay for purchases that you used to pay for with cash, exceeding credit limits and having to borrow money. Sampson, president of Forest Hill Properties, outlines a strategy for paying off debt effectively with advice on dealing with lawyers and creditors, setting up a payment plan and a budget for the future.

"You don't have to change your life, just your spending habits," concludes Sampson. "It may appear to take a long time, but once you get started you will be amazed at the difference a couple of years can make. I thought it would take me forever, but within two years I was better off than I thought I would be before I got into trouble."

[BCBW 1997] "Advice"