I recently finished reading Carrie Rocha’s new book, Pocket Your Dollars: 5 attitude changes that will help you pay down debt, avoid financial stress, & keep more of what you make.
Carrie Rocha is the founder and owner of Pocket Your Dollars.com, a popular money site on the web based right here in the Twin Cities. I’ve been following her site for several years now (she and I started our blogs at about the same time), and have saved money by using her grocery lists (she lists deals store by store by combining sales with coupons available) and other helpful posts.
I bought this book as a Christmas gift for myself. It was a quick read – it took me about 2 weeks to get through it, which is pretty good for a busy, working mom like myself (I’ve only read one other book cover to cover in the past year!)
Pocket Your Dollars was hard to put down! I kept identifying with Carrie throughout the book and many of the challenges she and her family faced while paying off almost $60,000 in debt. I enjoyed her many stories and anecdotes that engage and connect with the reader.
After sharing her own personal story in chapter 1, “My Story,” she continues with “the five attitudes that must go” which are (my summaries of each chapter are in parentheses):
2. If Only I Had More Money (it’s not how much money you make; it’s what you do with the money you have)
3. I Deserve a Treat (when you say these words in your mind, you are justifying an impulse purchase driven by some sort of emotional fix)
4. It Won’t Happen to Me (only budgeting for expenses that are in your face at the moment…for example, “If the furnace was working, I was not saving for its repair.”)
5. I’ll Fake It ‘Til I Make It (you’ll buy a good or service not only because it has intrinsic value to you, but because having it displays wealth)
6. I Can’t Afford It (harboring guilt or shame when spending money…for example, buying cheap shoes that hurt your feet when you could afford better, more expensive ones)
Just reading those, you have to admit that at least one of those rings a bell with you and your family. They all do or have with me – at least at some point. My husband and I often think “If only we had more money…,” especially when we hear of families heading to Disney World or Mexico for a week with their kids – why can’t that be us?
Then we think of all we DO have and have accomplished. I think of all the debt we’ve paid off over the years (close to $30,000) and how little debt we have left (our mortgage and some medical debt, the latter soon to be paid in full). I think of the “travel” savings account we started a couple years ago that we hope to use someday for a nice family vacation. Knowing we’re taking steps toward a goal like traveling is what helps us stay positive (and patient!).
Anything – at least almost anything – that is important to you can be achieved with the money you have, but sometimes it will take time.
Carrie then “discusses the skills you need to change your attitudes” which are:
7. Changing your Self-Talk
8. Standing Up to Pressure
9. Staying in It for the Long Haul
Finally, in section three: “Now that You’re Ready, Some Simple Budgeting Advice” Carrie helps you move forward with your new skills to help you get out of debt and save for the future:
10. Creating a Spending Plan
11. Paying Off Debt
12. Holding Yourself Accountable
13. Helpful Hints for Reducing Expenses
The Paying Off Debt chapter reminded me of how my family paid off all of our debt. Carrie discusses the “debt snowball plan,” which psychologists have proven as an effective debt payoff plan, and actually worked for my family.
“With the debt snowball,” Carrie says, “you pay the minimum amount on every debt you have. Then, when you get a little extra money from somewhere, you apply that money to the one debt on the top of your list.” Then when you pay off that first debt, you use the amount you were paying to that debt and apply it to the next debt. By the time you’re left with one debt (months, years, whatever it takes), your monthly payment to that debt will be huge and you’ll be quickly headed toward being debt-free.
This plan worked for our family. When my husband served in Iraq with his Army unit from 2006-2007, he made better money than he did at his civilian job at home, so I used every bit of “extra” money from that toward both our debts and toward building up our savings. By the time he came back, we had paid back all of his credit card debt, truck loan debt, most of my college loan debt, and we had healthy savings to help us buy our first home. We were in good shape to start a family (which we did right away – our first child, Heidi, was born 9 months later!).
One thought I had after I finished Carrie’s book was that her final chapter, “Helpful Hints for Reducing Expenses,” left me wanting more. It included some great tips including some I didn’t know about (like some helpful websites that were unfamiliar to me), but I think she could have turned this chapter into a whole book of its own. Perhaps that will be Carrie’s second book? Hopefully, but either way, there are many books that are full of similar tips for saving money, like Shop, Save and Share by Ellie Kay, Miserly Moms by Jonni McCoy, and Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half by the Economides family. (I’ll be writing about these and other similar books in future posts.)
Overall, I highly recommend the book Pocket Your Dollars. You’ll connect with Carrie and learn a lot about your own attitudes about money. Then you’ll be inspired to pay off your debt and be smarter about your money.