[Front Cover of Debt-Free Forever]

Many Canadians have a debt problem. A recent report titled Where is the Money now: The State of Canadian Household Debt as Conditions for Economic Recovery Emerge by the CGA Canada showed how bad the debt situation is in many households. It found that even with the temporary relief afforded by a credit card or line of credit, one quarter of Canadians would not be able to handle an unforeseen expense of $5,000. About 1 in 10 would have difficulty with a sudden expense of $500. The reason for the dismal statistics is pretty clear: Only one third of non-retired Canadians committed resources to any type of regular savings.

In an environment of easy credit, low interest rates and a debt picture that would make Greece proud, Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s rallying cry of “debt free forever” may sound quaint and anachronistic. But Gail couldn’t care less how it sounds. She takes a no-nonsense, tell-it-as-it-is approach to show deeply indebted Canadians how to dig themselves out of debt and stay out of it.

Now, getting out of debt, saving a bit of money and putting some money away for day when the “Caca hits the fan” isn’t exactly rocket science. Even a child knows the secrets to financial success but it is following through that is the problem. That’s where Gail comes in. She is there every step of the way, cajoling and coaxing the reader to stay with the plan, all of it delivered in the inimitable style that will be familiar to viewers of the wildly popular TV showTil’ Debt Do Us Part. Here’s a sample:

Now comes the hard work!

Crap! Really? I have to do the math?

Darn tootin’. You’re going to sweat some before you can clean up the mess you’ve made of your money and your life. This is where you figure out what you’ve been doing wrong so you can stop. If you skip this step, you’re lazy, uncommitted, and looking for an easy way out. There is no easy way out.

We live in one of the richest countries in the world. It is very sad that so many Canadians are skating so close to the financial precipice. Gail is on a mission to help as many Canadian as possible worry a lot less about their financial affairs. This book is one more way of getting her message out. The book is published by Collins and carries a list price of $21.99. I got my copy at Costco for $12.99.

This article has 19 comments

  1. So um…. did you like the book?

  2. I was wondering the same thing as Len. 🙂

    Gail Vaz-Oxlade sounds like Canada’s answer to Dave Ramsey. Our society needs this kind of advice, even though most people who need the advice won’t benefit from it.

  3. Claire & I watch her show on a regular basis and shake our heads a lot of the time at how individuals get themselves into such deep trouble. She’ll pout sometimes because we have a tighter budget than she’d like but that also leaves room for savings and makes those extras special when you can afford to splurge.

    She’s done very well despite some very personal issues over the past year so my hat’s off to her for running so many things successfully!

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  5. Canadian Capitalist

    @Len: I would say that I liked and enjoyed the book even though I’m not exactly Gail’s target audience. I purchased this book to figure out whether it would be useful to someone in financial difficulty. I’m confident it would.

  6. I was actually hoping for a review, rather than just a summary. How about more details on what you liked or didn’t like?

  7. It read like a review to me.
    I am not her target audience either, but this book is needed by at least 2/3rds of the canadian population. Doubt it will change the world, but if it helps a few readers, that’s great.

  8. I think you have to remove either “only” or “no” from this sentence: “Only one third of non-retired Canadians committed no resources to any type of regular savings.”

    My wife and I are on track to be debt free once our first mortgage is up in 4 years. If we can stay debt-free forever it would be fantastic!

  9. @gene: lots of similarities with Dave, but she’s not as fanatical about the no-debt thing. She doesn’t go off on awful political rants though, which is a huge plus for her.

    It’s funny/sad how popular the most basic common-sense advice is, but it’s all good advice and definitely more people should be listening.

  10. I love Gail and her incredible laugh and attitude. She is just the prescription to help those who need it. The problem arises when they turn into ostriches and bury their heads in the sand. Once they look up though, she’ll be there!

  11. Canadian Capitalist

    @Kirk: Thanks I’ve corrected the error.

    @Wang: I’ll try the “What I liked” and “What I didn’t like” format the next time I review a book. Thanks for your feedback.

    @Brad, @Evan: I really like Gail as well. It is surprising how many guests on her show are otherwise smart, successful individuals. It’s not that they don’t know the financial basics but do not have the discipline or habit to follow the simple steps. I like the way Gail deals with her guests: frank, forthright and tough without appearing to be a jerk. That’s tough to pull off. You can tell that she is genuinely interested in helping her guests. Hats off to her.

  12. Great post. Inmy lawyering business I also see too many people skating too close to the edge with their mortgage paymnets. Heaven help them if and when rates rise.

  13. Where’s the review? Should I buy it?

  14. Canadian Capitalist

    @Nick: This book will be useful for someone deep in debt and trying to get out of it and stay there. If this is you, this book will definitely be worth it. If not, you can safely skip it.

    You can browse through the book and decide for yourself:

    http://browseinside.harpercollins.ca/index.aspx?isbn13=9781554685905

  15. financiallyfreeinbc

    Gail and her show have been a life saver for my husband and I. When we first began seriously looking at the amount of debt ($12 000 + the vehicle) vs the amount of savings we had ($1000), I began incorporating her ideas. First it was finding out exactly how much we owed. Second was looking at wants vs needs. (Growing up in the ‘generation of instant gratification’, you can see how this might have been a bit difficult. I started cutting back on spending.) Last November, I paid off the revolving credit we had been carrying most of our married lived. Then I really got serious. We still had a vehicle to pay off. I started tracking spending and committed approximately the equivalent of my husband’s net pay on debt repayment and savings. My goal is to have the vehicle paid off ($28, 343.05 on Jan 5.10) by Dec 31/10. On top of that, we saved for tires, a new wood stove and installation, a week off for my husband, a raised garden that needed heavy equipment and soil brought in AND still have $2000 in the bank for emergencies all in the 1st 6 months of this year. Without Gail, her show and her book (which I bought after I got serious but still found very useful) we would still be spending without thought and living with incredible stress.I think this book is worth every penny you pay for it. She breaks it down into easy to understand language with a total no BS approach that people need to help them wake up and stop making excuses.

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  18. I love her show and while we don’t carry any consumer debt I still bought her book. Why? Because she breaks down all of your spending, just because you aren’t drowning in debt doesn’t mean that you’re not taking on water so to speak. My husband and I are doing great financially, but what’s wrong with ‘doing the math’ and being even better? It’s not just about getting out of debt, it’s about maximizing your financial potential and saving for your future.