Question: Who is the intended audience?
Answer: This book is for everyone who finds themselves in financial distress – most of us at one time or another.

This includes:

  • Young people who have recently moved away from the safety of their parents’ homes and aren’t quite sure what hit them when they can’t make it financially.
  • Older people on fixed incomes who don’t know how they can ever hope to break even every month.
  • Families reeling from catastrophic accidents or illness, some with medical bills larger than their annual income.
  • The suddenly unemployed, facing a frightening new world with no regular paycheck.
  • Compulsive spenders who shopped their way into trouble, as well as responsible, hard workers who can’t seem to win for losing.
  • Parents, teachers, and friends of any of the above groups.

Q: What is the book about?
A: Help! I Can’t Pay My Bills shows readers how to survive an immediate financial crisis with their self-respect and credit rating intact. For anyone having financial troubles, it answers key questions such as:

  • How can I get help with catastrophic medical bills?
  • Where can I find cash I didn’t know I had?
  • What bills should I pay first?
  • What should I tell creditors when they call?
  • How can I track down my ex and get overdue child support?
  • How do I create a plan for reaching my financial goals?

I help people face their financial challenges head on and make a plan to overcome them. This book can help anyone facing money problems learn to live without dreading their bills or feeling anxious about money.

Q: Why are you the best person to write this book?
A: I became interested in money and how it affects people’s lives when I was a teenager. I saw that either people controlled their money, or their money controlled them.

After working in public accounting, I joined Microsoft Corporation in the personal finance division. As a writer and consultant for Microsoft Money, a personal finance software program, I helped to improve the program and make it meet the real needs of users. I have written articles for Microsoft TaxSaver and the Microsoft Work Essentials website, and I regularly contribute to MSN Money online.

Q: How is this book different from other books on this topic?
A: Personal finance publishers have been reaching out to the “getting started” crowd in the last few years. Readers can now find a number of books that promise to help them at specific life stages. They can also find books narrowly focused on getting out of debt. Most books, however, still focus on lifetime financial planning and investing. They may not meet the needs of a person who, regardless of age, just needs to get through this month without having the utilities turned off. Readers can find several existing categories of personal finance books, including comprehensive personal finance guides, personal finance guides for young adults, and debt reduction and credit repair books. None, however, offer the focused yet comprehensive information that Help! I Can’t Pay My Bills provides people with acute financial needs.

If over one million American families every year are driven to file for bankruptcy, how many more are in some level of financial distress and are looking for help? These people don’t need a complete personal finance course, nor do they need a book only about getting out of debt or pinching pennies. They need a book written specifically to help them right now—a step-by-step guide to surviving a financial crisis.

Q: Is there anything else we should know about this book?
A: Unlike some personal finance books, this is a friendly, readable book. It includes lots of stories to show people that they are not alone – that other people have been through financial crises, too, and have survived.