Ditching Debt

CSB graduate overcomes more than $50k of credit card and loan debt

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January 16, 2015

By Ashli Gerdes

Carrie Rocha '97 works on her blog PocketYourDollars.com.

It was Carrie Rocha's determination to get out of debt that changed her life forever. She's a College of Saint Benedict '97 graduate who paid off a $50,000 credit card and student loan debt in just two-and-a-half years. Now, she's finding ways to help others climb their way to financial freedom. 

"I felt a real pull to offer some kind of community education based on what we learned in our journey out of debt," said Rocha, originally from Brooklyn Park, Minnesota.

Rocha and her husband Marco realized they needed to change their attitude toward money saving and budgeting if they wanted to cut down their debt.

"We had always lived with this mindset, 'If we only had more money, we wouldn't have a money problem,' " said Rocha, a political science major. "Once we get a raise, after this tax refund, after this Christmas bonus things will be different.' Over time you realize, actually, that's not true."

Rocha launched PocketYourDollars.com in March 2009. It's a blog about her personal experience with finance and living on a budget. The blog was originally intended to help her family and close personal friends save money during the recession. She began to teach a small group of women from her church about what she had learned related to grocery coupons.

"I wanted to teach them some of the practical money saving tips that I had learned," Rocha said. "But then I also had a vision of helping them understand the mindset and attitude changes that my husband and I had experienced in our journey out of debt."

Within two weeks of launching her blog, Carrie was contacted by the local Fox television affiliate in the Twin Cities requesting an interview. Over the next 12 months, Rocha conducted more than 100 media interviews.

In January 2010, Rocha was faced with some disappointing news. She was laid off from her Minneapolis-based non-profit job. She decided to look to her faith for support.

"I followed what some may say was my intuition but I really think it was the leadership of the Holy Spirit guiding me," Rocha said.

She and her husband decided to transition into self-employment by sharing their story and helping others gain financial freedom. Rocha wrote a book called "Your Dollars: 5 Attitude Changes That Will Help You Pay Down Debt, Avoid Financial Stress, and Keep More of What You Make."

The book outlines what Rocha learned from her financial struggle and how she overcame debt. One of her biggest lessons was don't go into debt. "People want to be able to do what they've always done," Rocha said. "They want to do every tradition that they've always had ... You have to be able to let go.

"Nobody set out and told us, 'Here are five attitudes to change,' " Rocha said. "It was only in hindsight that we saw what made us different. We extracted these five attitude changes as a foundation."

Rocha has inspired thousands of people with her book and her blog. PocketYourDollars.com has been attracting about 1.3 million visitors each year.

"If you've seen the movie "Julie and Julia," it's about a girl that starts up a blog. The first time she gets a comment from someone other than her mother she gets excited," Rocha said. "I think I was just at the right place at the right time."