Welcome! I am Carrie Rocha. 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. At the same time I started getting 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 author my first book Pocket Your Dollars: 5 Attitude Changes That Will Help You Pay Down Debt, Avoid Financial Stress, and Keep More of What You Make available from Amazon or BN.com (Bethany House). I also serve on the National Women’s Money Council, the Advisory Board for Affiliate Summit, am Consumer Editor at Wisebread.com, am serve on the Performance Marketing Association’s Publisher Recruitment Council.
I am speechless and humbled at this incredible path I’ve walked so far.
Pocket Your Dollars’ Team
As Pocket Your Dollars has grown over the years, I’ve added a team of people to help. It is this tremendously dedicated support team that makes Pocket Your Dollars possible.
Emily, aka Emmy, started following Carrie and Pocket Your Dollars in the spring of 2011. A friend of a friend posted a picture of her couponing haul on Facebook and from then on Emmy was hooked. Over the next 3 years, Emmy saved thousands of dollars by following Carrie’s tips and advice. She became a diehard fan.
Emmy has been a career nanny since 2008 and she truly enjoys it. At last count she has helped raise 8 children. But even with her busy life and career, she was sure to tune into Pocket Your Dollars several times a week.
On one such occasion in October 2013, Emmy left a comment mentioning that she loves e.l.f. Cosmetics because they are vegan and not tested on animals. As a vegan and animal rights activist, this is important to Emmy. Carrie thought it was a great perspective, so she invited Emmy to write a guest post reviewing her e.l.f Cosmetics purchase.
Carrie was impressed with Emmy’s writing and hired Emmy as a freelance writer in February 2014. Then, when the Deals Editor position opened up in the spring of 2014, it felt like a great fit. Emmy is a natural deal hound, a learner to her core, and do-the-right-thing-because-it-is-right kind of woman. Emmy oversees the selection of deals we write about at Pocket Your Dollars.com along with our team of freelance writers.
Emmy is energized by helping Pocket Your Dollars grow, since it is a website and community she has grown to love. Even though she is our Deals Editor, she will always be, first and foremost, a Pocketeer at heart.
You can learn more about Emmy in this introductory post.
Laura and Carrie met online when Laura started reading Pocket Your Dollars and leaving comments and questions in the summer of 2009. In November of that year, Laura attended a class Carrie taught, then followed up with a thank-you email and an offer to write a few blog posts on a volunteer basis.
Laura had been a high school English teacher before having her first child and becoming a stay-at-home mom. She was a natural deal hound, but loved the thought of writing. She never imagined that her offer to volunteer a little time would turn into a part-time job.
Carrie jumped at the offer for help, since that was in the days when Carrie was working at the nonprofit by day and blogging by night. Laura is a gifted writer, a fabulous editor and has an amazing attention to detail.
After volunteering some time, Laura took on a few paid tasks, then actually ran the entire site for four days while Carrie went on a business trip in January 2010. The readers loved her. Carrie loved the help. Laura loved the opportunity.
Since then, Laura spent years working as Editor for Pocket Your Dollars. More recently she’s become our lead staff writer focused on the timeless content we create.
We also have five other individuals who draft portions of the content that you see on this site (and one assistant who helps Carrie maintain her sanity behind-the-scenes). I am grateful for their contributions and honored that they’d opt to be part of this team. I’m honored that you’ve found us and hope that you stay connected, get the info you need to start saving money, and that you keep in touch.