Carrie Rocha: Founder of Pocket Your Dollars
Carrie Rocha has turned her story of getting out of debt into a thriving business, find out how she did it!
After my husband and I paid off $50,000+ in debt I felt compelled to share what we’d learned with others. Pocket Your Dollars is the place where I share.
We Got Out of Debt
Our journey started in June 2006 when my husband and I made a commitment. We decided to get out of debt and to stay out debt for the rest of our lives. Much like a new mom who panics when she realizes that the teeny baby is her responsibility, I felt afraid and overwhelmed by our decision, but we didn’t back down.
We were and are middle class folks that had student loan debt, a car loan, tax debt, and more. We recognized the need to have discretionary income to pay off the existing debt and save for future purchases. Two ways we could do it - increase our income or decrease expense. We opted to start by decreasing our expense. I mean, who wants to work more hours in the day if they don’t have to?
Marco and I split our household expenses between us. Each was charged to reduce expense in any creative way possible so that we could start building an emergency fund, saving for expected non-routine things and paying down our debt.
It was November 2009 when I wrote the check that paid off the last of those $50,000 in debts. In 2.5 years we’d done what seemed impossible at the start. Today, we still have our first mortgage, but are paying it down.
The Seeds that Started Pocket Your Dollars
When we got out of debt it was the start of the Great Recession. People I love were losing their homes and their jobs at the same time we were experiencing more financial stability than we ever had. I felt compelled to act.
I had a seed of a desire in me. I wanted to teach a small group of women at my local church about the things I’d learned related to grocery coupons. That was my ultimate goal at the time.
In late February 2009 I received disappointing news at work. I had been passed over for a promotion to be the President of my company. The Board opted for an outsider with a stronger marketing background. Unfortunately, the organization could no longer afford a COO and I would eventually be laid off.
We were scared because just a few weeks prior to receiving that news, Marco had quit his long-time job as an International Sales Manager to become a stay-at-home dad by day and a grad school student by night. I was the sole breadwinner and had just learned that after the new President was acclimated into his role, I’d be unemployed.
The day after hearing about the impending layoff I was invited to teach a money-saving class to stay-at-homes. I jumped at the opportunity because it would give me something and someone else to focus on while I processed my own disappointment.
While I taught that very first class I said out loud, “This would be so much easier if I had a website.” Two weeks went by and I could not shake the feeling that I had to start a website.
It was a crazy prospect at the time. I was still working full-time as Chief Operating Officer (it was 9 months until I was laid off). We had a 3-month old baby and 2-year old toddler. My husband was in graduate school at night. Nonetheless, I stepped out.
Pocket Your Dollars is Born
I started this website on March 16, 2009 with this blog post. My heart’s desire was to provide a community service to a few dozen women I personally knew. I had no idea what was in store for me or for this website.
Ten days after the site launched, my local FOX affiliate did a story about me and the site. Then I spoke with a reporter from the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Then a local cable station wanted to interview me. Then one thing led to another and by the time the first year had gone by I’d done almost 100 media appearances. I became the go-to consumer and money-saving expert in the Minneapolis area.
After I’d been doing this for 6 months I was receiving invitations from companies like General Mills. They wanted me to teach their employees how to stretch their paychecks as part of their wellness program. Around that time I also started getting some national recognition in outlets like Yahoo! Finance and Wall Street Journal Radio. With so much going on I scaled back to part-time at my day job, in September 2009, to devote even more to this website.
Finally, in January 2010 I was laid off from that Minneapolis-based non-profit. That was 10 months after Pocket Your Dollars’ launch. Marco and I decided to take a calculated risk into self-employment and devote even more to it. We have not looked back.
Now we steward a community of more 1.3 million unique visitors annually. I continue to do public speaking, make media appearances and am authoring my first book Pocket Your Dollars: 6 Attitude Changes That Will Help You Pay Down Debt, Avoid Financial Stress, and Keep More of What You Make (Bethany House, 2013).
I am speechless and humbled at this incredible path I’ve walked so far.