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We have always been a fan of coupons at our house. To me, it’s like someone walking up to us and saying “here’s fifty cents if you buy this.” To me, it’s a no brainer.
In our house, hubby is the hardcore coupon hound. He’s not an “extreme couponer”, but he is dedicated for sure. He patiently sifts through the newspapers and magazines for coupons on the items we use and thanks to that we saved over $800 on groceries last year. I credit his patience and dedication because quite honestly, I don’t think I could be as hard-core as him!
I remember meeting Carrie Rocha several years ago at a Minnesota Bloggers Convention. She was one of the keynote speakers and she shared her story and how Pocket Your Dollars came to be. It started as a commitment back in 2006 to become debt-free and eventually evolved into much more.
BUT, instead of me telling the story, I’ll let Carrie do it! Carrie was gracious enough to take the time (she was writing her current book when I originally reached out to her) out of her packed schedule to share some of the details of her life and her journey.
Hi Carrie! Thanks for agreeing to do this. I am very excited to share your story and site with my readers. Here’s some questions and just answer them as thoroughly as you have time for.
1. Tell us about Pocket Your Dollars. When did you start this site and how long you’ve been in business too.
I started Pocket Your Dollars in March 2009 as a hobby. At the time I had no idea that people made money on the internet. At the time I was working full-time as COO for an area non-profit and had little girls (2 months and 21 months) under my feet. I stumbled into local media as a money-saving expert. That publicity (100 appearances in the first year alone) rocketed my site’s popularity. Amazingly, I transitioned into self-employment ten months after I started it when I was laid off from the non-profit. I’ve not looked back.
2. Share what attracted you to this business, and what you like most about it.
My attraction was the mission. My career has been in non-profit work and I am deeply motivated by mission, not so much by money. I loved the idea of helping people survive the Great Recession. Today, what I like most about it is the ownership I have in it. I get to influence the direction we go and I also bear the responsibility for the outcome. I am in the process right now of expanding our mission since I feel like we were aiming too small.
3. What has been your biggest business challenge with your business thus far?
Diversifying my income streams has been my biggest challenge. All my revenue is tied to a single brand, which poses inherent risk. The vast majority (95%) of that income comes through the website. Yes, I do some public speaking, I wrote a book, I’ve done some consulting, but none of those feel like long-term diversification strategies. Over this summer, which is my slow season, I plan to start some new, unrelated websites with different business models as a step toward diversification.
4. What goals or milestones are you shooting for in 2013 with Pocket Your Dollars
Two words are guiding me this year – passion and present. I want to do things that I am deeply passionate about. That translates into expanding our mission from “helping Americans get out and stay out of debt” to something that is focused on helping Americans feel capable of making their own sound financial decisions at every turn of life.
The last 4 years have been frantically busy for me. My husband has been a gracious supporter. He was in grad school for the first 2 years and then became a stay-at-home dad for 2 years so that I could build this business. He recently went back to work (yes, in an internet-related field. We’re that family who is perpetually online) and I have had to re-pick up more household responsibilities. At first I was harried and frazzled by it. But, I decided to be PRESENT. When I’m with my kids I am going to present with them. When I’m working I’ll be focused on work. But I gave up the guilt of “should be working” and “should be playing” for a commitment to enjoy each present moment.
5. Is there a certain demographic PYD appeals to? Or is it pretty across the board?
Women from 30-55 are the main demographic. We have some men, some younger women and some older, but the bulk are in that range.
6. As a Mom, share a piece of budget advice.
Get a grip on what is happening in your financial life. I swear by the software You Need a Budget. It’s the best $60 I have ever spent. Every mom needs an easy way to know where the money went, where it is planned to go and a way to get an advanced head’s up if spending outpaces income. You Need a Budget does all that for me.
7. As business woman, what advice do you want to share for other moms/women in business?
Be present. Turn off your phone when your cooking dinner and chatting with your kids. Set up an out of office note on email when you take a day off so you don’t feel the pressure to respond to everyone. When you’re at work quit feeling guilty for not being with the kids.
8. Name a personal quirk you wish you didn’t have (interrupting, eye rolling, etc)
Oh my, I have so many quirks that I wish I didn’t have that it is hard to pick just one. The one that has harmed me the most is my desire to control. I feel the need to influence even the most meaningless things like which roads we take when my husband drives us somewhere. It’s lots of wasted energy when the reality is that life has an amazing way of working itself out without any involvement from me.
9. If you had to sum up PYD in two sentences, what would it be?
Life. Within your means. To me those two sentences used to be about budgeting and a very literal living within your means. Now days they mean much more. Life includes sending kids to college, divorce for many women, retirement, job changes, upside mortgages and so much more. Having the capability to live that life is what I think of now when I hear “within your means.”
10. Are you on Facebook? Twitter? Linked-In? Do you have a favorite for one that has proven thoe most valuable for driving traffic to PYD?
Facebook has been the most valuable social network for my business. I’d love it if your readers would connect with me on Facebook and on Twitter too.
11. If you could do anything for a living, and money was no object, what would you do?
Blog. I love it. I’m living my dream.
12. Share a bit about your family and what you do for fun.
My husband Marco and I have been married 10 years. He is from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I traveled to Brazil for the first time on our honeymoon, which is also the first time I met my in-laws (yes, you heard me. I got married before I’d met my in-laws). We have two girls who are now 4 and 6. We are a group of learners so for fun we look at water from our creek under a microscope. We invent things. We go on road trips and learn about new people and places. We enjoy being together.
14. You have made so many amazing appearances on TV etc, which was most memorable and why?
When I think about my most memorable segments it’s hard to pick just one. The most life-changing segment was a KARE 11 Extra feature that my dear friend Jeff Olsen put together in July 2009. The story moved the direction of my life for a few reasons. First, Jeff told my family’s story in a way that I’d not thought of. He tied together our experience getting out of debt with our current PYD work. I began to talk about myself that way and many doors of opportunity have opened as a result. Second, I got the most “big breaks” (so to speak) from that one segment than I have from any other. Two major companies invited me to speak after seeing that piece. The PowerPoint from one of those two speaking engagements was the seed that became my first book. Finally, in the 24 hours after that segment aired my website made $1,000 in advertising revenue. It was the first time we made any real money on the website. It sparked a desire in me to learn how to monetize my blog without compromising the mission, which I did over the next 5 months.
Thank you SO much Carrie! I look forward to seeing more greatness from your endeavors!
**Carrie has written a wonderful book called Pocket Your Dollars: 5 Attitude Changes That Will Help You Pay Down Debt, Avoid Financial Stress, and Keep More of What You Make hit shelves nationwide in mid-December 2012. Buy your copy from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
Teaching middle America to live within their means so they can get out & stay out of debt. Plus, a lover of social media, marketing & business journals. Visit Carrie at Pocket Your Dollars,