Book Review
Title: "Pocket Your Dollars: 5 Attitude Changes That Will Help You Pay Down Debt, Avoid Financial Stress and Keep More of What You Make"
Author: Carrie Rocha
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers, 2013; 224 pages; $13.99

One of my favorite books of 2012 — maybe of all time — was Trevor Blake’s "Three Simple Steps," but not because it offered a bizarrely revolutionary trick for living the good life (though it did have a number of insights to that end, including systems for implementing them).

Rather, the power of "Three Simple Steps" lies in its simplicity: the plain spoken nature, the small number of steps, and the poignantly powerful life stories Blake tells as proof points combined to create a book I have already bought multiple times, and which has been effective at driving big-time life changes in everyone I’ve given it to.

To be published on New Year’s Day, Carrie Rocha’s "Pocket Your Dollars: 5 Attitude Changes That Will Help You Pay Down Debt, Avoid Financial Stress and Keep More of What You Make" harnesses the same power (the power of simplicity) to deconstruct what seems like a perennially complicated and troubling topic — personal finance — and boil it down into some root attitudinal changes with the potential to remodel everything about your money matters.

Like Blake, Rocha also starts with a personal story: the story of her family’s own debt, poor money management habits and a lifestyle built around living paycheck to paycheck — until she and her husband Marco made a decision in 2006 to get out of debt and stay out of it for the rest of their lives.

Thirty months later, in 2009, Rocha wrote the last check to pay off the couple’s non-mortgage debt and began formulating the fundamental attitude shifts she credits for their financial freedom into "Pocket Your Dollars."

"Pocket Your Dollars" takes a stripped-back, three-step approach to helping readers get a handle on their own out-of-control financial situations. Rocha guides readers through each of these steps in a plain-spoken style that many will find encouraging, inspirational and helpful at minimizing the overwhelm that often paralyzes people before they even take the first step at tackling money messes:

1. Correct five broken money attitudes that are commonly held by financially troubled folks. Positing that if fundamentally flawed mindset and attitude corrections are made, many of the more complex behavioral changes will automatically follow, Rocha calls out a handful of attitudes and beliefs about money that underlie many of the money behaviors that get people in trouble and in debt.

From wistfully wondering what life would be like "if I had more money," to wishfully thinking "it won’t happen to me," these beliefs are identified and debunked in the first step of Rocha’s book on how to pocket your dollars rather than wonder where they went.

2. Build some attitude-shifting skills. Attitude problems don’t fix themselves and, Rocha points out, aren’t always that easy to correct even once you know they are at the root of your money woes.

The next step of "Pocket Your Dollars" is devoted to teaching readers precisely how they can create big-time belief system shifts, including mini-tutorials on mindset management skills like controlling your self-talk and standing up to pressure, among other things.

3. Get a core set of money management basics under your belt. Once readers have used Rocha’s toolbox to do some "do-it-yourself" work on their financial beliefs, they’re in position to actively start fixing and flourishing their money matters, which requires implementing a short list of financial management basics. Rocha walks even the totally uninitiated reader through the minimum musts for creating a spending plan, getting out of debt, and accounting for one’s money on a regular basis.

If you have a massive portfolio, multiple homes, kids in college and a few years until retirement, you’ll probably want some additional, more sophisticated financial advice than what you’ll find in "Pocket Your Dollars."

But if you also have massive debt, the inspirational and attitudinal material will serve you just as well, as it will its most likely audience: young(-ish) adults who find themselves in lots of debt, with few or no skills for managing their money and with a desperate desire to course-correct so they can live the lives they envision free from debt.

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