A few weeks ago now I had the chance to meet some fellow personal finance, frugality and coupon bloggers here in the Twin Cities area. It was a lot of fun to chat with a group of people who understand this “blogging thing”, and it was encouraging to hear from some of the group who blog full time and make a living from their online enterprises.
One of the bloggers that I was most interested to meet was Carrie Rocha of Pocket Your Dollars. Carrie has been blogging full time for a few years now, and is something of a celebrity here in the Twin Cities as she's a regular on a lot of the local morning shows.
At the blogger meetup Carrie was talking about how she's extremely busy right now because she just wrote her first book, and the book is now in the process of launching through a traditional publisher. She's doing tons of media appearances, book signings and other publicity for her new book. It was interesting to hear about all the work that goes into launching a book.
When Carrie offered to give me an advance copy of the book to review, I jumped at the chance. So today I'll be reviewing her new book, “Pocket Your Dollars: 5 attitude changes that will help you pay down debt, avoid financial stress, & keep more of what you make“.
Pocket Your Dollars: 5 Needed Attitude Changes To Change Your Finances
Carrie Rocha's new book, Pocket Your Dollars, isn't epic in length, I was able to read the book over a short weekend. But what it lacks in length, it makes up for in substance.
The book delves into the weeds talking about why we get into debt, and explores why we need to change our attitudes about money before we can truly make a lasting change. Debt is often only the symptom of deeper underlying beliefs and attitudes about money.
So what are some of the attitudes that we need to change?
If Only I had More Money
Far too often people believe that if they only had a bit more money, things would start falling in line. They'd be able to pay off their debts, save for retirement and buy all those things they hadn't been able to afford before.
The problem is even people who make millions of dollars often can't out-earn themselves. They end up spending more than they make. A quote from the book that makes the point:
It doesn't matter how much money you make. What makes a difference, financially, is how much you keep.
Take responsibility for your situation, choose to change your behavior and your life, don't keep waiting on a time when you'll have more money (because it might not come).
Carrie writes in the book that making a change was all about taking responsibility, and believing she could make a change with what she had.
I don't have enough money to be able to change my financial life became I have all the money it takes to establish my financial future.
In order to get ahead you have to change yourself, not your income.
I Deserve A Treat
The “I deserve a treat” mentality is another attitude that tends to get people off track. We all work hard, and at times it can be easy to justify rewarding your hard work by buying yourself things, often with money that you don't have.
There's a phsyiological reason we enjoy rewarding ourselves and buying ourselves things. The body releases Dopamine – which activates the pleasure centers in the brain. The problem is that it's temporary. It's like a drug addiction where we have to consistently buy ourselves more things to get that same “high”.
Instead of allowing the “I deserve it” mindset to take hold, there are ways that you can indulge that still allow you to keep a responsible budget. Try giving yourself a small allowance every month that you can spend on whatever you want. Also try looking at why you're not buying things through a positive framework – create a larger goal that you're working towards that will make it all worthwhile in the end.
It Won't Happen To Me
A lot of people don't think to plan ahead for a rainy day. They don't save up an emergency fund, plan for irregular expenses, get insurance or plan for the worst case scenario. Instead they live in a bubble and just hope that bad things don't happen.
In this section Rocha looks at a variety of different regular and irregular expenses that we can expect to see, and talks about why it's important to plan ahead and save up the money for those expenses, before we need it.
She also talks about how it's important to keep those emergency funds segregated and away from our regular checking accounts – making it less accessible – and less likely for us to use that money for something other than an emergency.
Fake it ‘Til You Make It
This is an attitude that says it's OK to spend money that you don't have in order to portray a successful lifestyle. After all – if you want to be successful, you have to FEEL successful, right?
Problem is when you fake success, the negative balance in your bank account will be very real.
Carrie goes on to discuss what the wealthy really look like, and explore attributes that the wealthy have that you can emulate. The truth is most wealthy folks don't drive expensive cars or live in expensive houses. In fact much of the reason why many of them are wealthy can be linked to their frugal nature.
I Can't Afford It
Another negative attitude to kick to the curb is the “I can't afford it” mentality. In truth there are probably a lot of things that you can afford, but this attitude can keep you from actually ever enjoying any of the money that you do make.
The “I can't afford it” attitude is on the other extreme of the “I deserve it attitude”. It takes a positive ability to delay gratification and “turns it into a refusal to ever be gratified”. It's the place where frugality becomes being cheap and miserly.
The I can't afford it mentality is one that stems from greed, from fear of the unknown and from wanting to always have control. Rocha talks about how that can devolve into living a very unhappy life. The remedy? Making sure your decisions are coming from a place to create more happiness, not simply to create more stuff. Also, being generous can help us to feel the joy of giving and of seeing the result of why we work hard and save!
Examining And Changing Attitudes Will Speed Up The Process Of Debt Reduction
The thing that I really think this book gets right is in realizing the great importance of the psychological side of money. Getting rid of debt is about so much more than just creating a spreadsheet and a budget. It's about the emotions, beliefs and attitudes that we hold that can end up getting us in trouble if we're not careful.
Carrie Rocha urges us to examine our attitudes, to take responsibility and realize that while making a change won't happen overnight, it will lead to you living a happier life.
I'd highly recommend this book to just about everyone who is about to embark on the journey of debt reduction. It will give you the psychological boost and the head start that you need before you even get into the nitty gritty of setting up a budget. It will help you to identify and root out those harmful attitudes, and set you up for success.