Today we have an interview with Dorethia Conner Kelly, brilliant author and mastermind behind #MoneyChat – The Book!  I truly enjoyed her book as she gets real about money issues and how to solve them with real world solutions.  Check out her insightful interview below!

Get a FREE chapter of #MoneyChat: The Book here: via @dorethiaconner

What is someone’s ‘#MoneyChat’?

Your #MoneyChat is what you SAY and DO with your money. I believe the two are directly related and that you have to change what you say in order for your actions to follow. #MoneyChat’s are the conversations you have with friends, colleagues and family at lunch, at the coffee shop, in the car, during game night… do you join the pity party or bring positivity to the conversation? Are you sharing the wisdom you have learned (without being overbearing) or keeping it to yourself? Are you educating those in your household on successful money management? That is your #MoneyChat

Why did you write #MoneyChat: THE BOOK?

Before the book was the website and before that the online Twitter Chat – which is the catalyst for the #MoneyChat movement.  It is a way to take a conversation that can often be shameful or awkward and make it less intimidating. It’s a community, I want people to know we are all in this together and there is no judgment. After doing the chat and workshops for a few years, I decided it was time to put on paper some of the key things that we had discussed , some of the reoccurring topics I heard during the chats and in my financial coaching practice, thus we have #MoneyChat THE BOOK.

How should readers apply this book to their personal finances?

I wrote #MoneyChat THE BOOK in 3 sections based on common themes I was finding in my financial coaching practice. Most people wanted to get out of the debt hole and learn successful money management so that they could save, invest, retire and create college funds for their kids.  Throughout each chapter there are ‘how to’s and action plans’.  Highlight, dog ear and underline the things in this book that resonate with you and follow the action plans.

Taking Action:

What are some of the best tips you can offer people who have tried, but just aren’t good with their personal finances?

First, I’d say don’t beat yourself up, only look toward the future, but do learn from your past mistakes. You don’t want to repeat the cycle.

Second, get back to the basics, a notebook and pencil. List all your monthly income and subtract your monthly expenses. Do this at the start of each month on a new page in the notebook.

Third, there are all kind of websites and cell phone apps that are free! You may have to log your information into them once and then monitor or update.  These sites/apps are perfect for people who can’t keep up with a written budget; don’t know their investment status, etc. You can print graphs, reports directly from the sites. It is also easy to update changes in your financial situation.

If none of this works, get help. There are free community programs and you can also hire a financial coach. Financial coaches help you create a financial strategy and teach you how to handle your money yourself with education and guidance.  

As a financial coach, what’s the biggest mistake you see people make when it comes to their money?

I would say not seeking help, not learning how to manage their money where they are now financially. This isn’t only those who are facing financial challenges, I coach low, middle and high-income earners as well who may be financially stable, but have no financial strategy for their money. There are so many financial magazines, blogs that have a wealth of information. There are also free financial events that people can go to in order to get started that many don’t take advantage of.  


Throughout the book you tell people to “do their research.” Can you briefly explain what that means?

Let’s say someone wants to set up a 401k at the employer. Doing the research for them means learning about what a 401k is, finding out how much they have to contribute in order to get the employer match, what investments are included in the 401k and how are they performing? What financial company administers the employer 401k? Google their name online to find out if they are a reputable company.

Researching is finding out everything you can about a topic so that you can make an educated decision. Most of it can be done with the click of a button.

Why was it so important to add action plans in the book?

I always give homework to my clients with instructions on how to complete.  When I was learning about personal finance I hated to hear ‘live beneath your means’ because I didn’t know how to. I was already as low as I could go. After you tell someone what to do, you have to tell them how. Therefore, I have action steps throughout the book to help readers make it happen in their finances.

Lighting round! What are 4 ways someone can increase their income right now.

  • Cleaning/organizing houses/garages/basements – my ultimate go to
  • Detailing/washing cars
  • Errands, light home repair for seniors, single parents, busy people
  • Hairstyling/Barber services



Your book dives into the topic of Investing. Why is investing important yet intimidates so many people from doing it?

It’s all about educating yourself; people are intimidated by what they don’t understand. In the book I show people how ease into investing little by little, help them understand the basic terms and then dig deeper. Investing is a viable way to build wealth and is an important key to lifelong financial planning.

When should you start investing?

Investing in your 401k or employer plan should begin as soon as you see some wiggle room in your budget. Add mutual funds, etc. to your overall financial plan once you have paid off your smaller debts, have a handle on your budget and can allot a set amount each month into the account without hindering your debt pay-off goals.

Relationships & Money:

At what point should you talk about money in a relationship?

Dating: I think it should be brought up in general conversation, maybe discuss a magazine or news article. This allows you to get a feel for their mindset. Don’t run if it’s not like yours, these are things you can work on together – who’s to say you’re right? I would not discuss how much money either makes, trust funds, etc. until it was clear that you were exclusive and committed.

Engaged: Definitely time to have several conversations about your financial life plan together, investments, savings, joining accounts or not. What are each of your money goals over the next 5, 10, 20 years? ALL debts should be laid on the table, credit reports too. No one should be blindsided going into a marriage

Married: There should be ongoing conversations, monthly or quarterly checkups in addition to your budget meetings. Your 5, 10, 20 year plan should be revisited annually to ensure you are on track and adjust where needed.

It’s said that people tend to marry their financial opposite. One may be a spender and the other a saver. What can a person do if they find themselves in that type of situation with their spouse?

You have to appease both personalities. There has to be room in the budget for fun, for spending on things that are not necessities. For the saver, you have to be marching toward the financial goals. As long as there’s a set amount going toward saving, investing, vacation etc., they most likely won’t have a problem. My husband and I are like this, I never thought I’d marry a spender! We balance each other out and are on the same page with our goals so that makes a difference.

You talk about getting out of the hole in the book, what about dating/engaged couples who are both in debt? Should they be out of debt before they get married?

Whether one or both are in debt or facing other financial challenges, I would first ask if the two are on the same page of becoming financially stable. Are they both determined to get out of debt and committed to traveling that path together? Have they both been completely honest about the good, bad and ugly of their finances? If one is better at money than the other, is the other willing to learn? If the answer is yes, then you can work to get out of debt together after marriage. If there is a continued pattern of poor financial decision making from either or both, I would not suggest marriage until those issues are resolved. They will only cause big arguments in the marriage.

What do you do if your mate is constantly making poor decisions or blowing your money?

This happens a lot in marriages and committed relationships. I definitely suggest counseling, but you also have to have common sense. If you have truly tried everything you can, it’s time to separate the money and take your name off anything joint that you have while you work through this issue.


College & Student Loans:

As we know, student loan debt is crippling a lot of people financially. What can people do to lighten the load?

I believe in accountability, the fact of the matter is that we all signed on the dotted line and used the money for our tuition, books, living expenses pizza, parties, etc. Therefore we are responsible. That said, I do believe the system needs an overhaul, I too am paying back student loans, it’s one of my final debts. There are various payment options, call your lender to inquire before you start to feel the pinch. There are also forbearance and deferment options. Just be careful, because those only prolong the debt, make sure they are absolutely necessary. Lastly, there is a lot of legislation being proposed around student loan debt to ease the pain for borrowers. Set up Google alerts so you can receive emails whenever it is mentioned in the news. Bookmark the Federal website so that you know immediately if a new program is implemented that can help you with your student loans.


Why do you think it’s important to have a college savings strategy for your children? 

Though every child won’t go to college, it’s an important option. When the time comes most parents will want to be able to help. Saving ahead and having a plan avoids the mad scramble for money senior year, lessens the stress and allows your child to have better options. Start with whatever your budget can afford and increase over time. If your child decides not to go to school, well, you have a little extra money that you can pass on to another child in the family or keep!

What if a parent has not saved money for college, maybe they weren’t able to, what can they do?

This is a common concern, maybe the finances weren’t there or there were multiple kids and it just wasn’t possible. No worries, there are scholarships your child can apply for whether they are an A student or not. There is everything from leadership, artistic talent to fencing. It just takes work to find them, I tell students and parents to treat scholarship hunting like a part-time job after school.

There is also community college and vocational school. These are very viable options and many people make an excellent living after having attended. This way students can work and go to school if the parents want them to.  



What made you write about gambling in this book?

I have personally seen how gambling has crippled households, from casinos to  gambling house parties. In the book I discuss how one man lost his family over scratch-offs. It’s a real issue that is rarely talked about in mainstream but people are losing houses, life savings, and families over it. I had to address it and offer help to those who are faced with this struggle. I also address IRS debt, pay day and cash advance loans because they are a detriment to financial success.

Do you think the availability of online gambling has made the situation worse?

I don’t believe that online gambling is this big, horrible thing. I learned in my research that compulsive behavior doesn’t care about the method. So for a compulsive gambler, yes, it will make it worse for the family because they could be right on their computer blowing the household money. The easy access definitely works against them, but the sites can be blocked as a safeguard. In the book I discuss software and options those wanting to break free can use.

How can people connect with you?

Visit, our Facebook group at and come follow me on Twitter @MoneyChatLIVE & @DorethiaConner



Dorethia Conner Kelly, MBA is the president of Conner Financial Coaching, LLC, providing results-oriented personal finance and business coaching services. She is also the founder of the popular #MoneyChat personal finance blog, and online Twitter chat. Dorethia’s financial expertise has been featured in various national media including Black Enterprise, U.S. News and Nerd Wallet. She lives in Detroit, Michigan with her family.