#1. Know what you have. Keep track of how much you’re making and where your money goes each month. Having your monthly income documented makes budgeting easier.
#2. Make a budget…and follow it closely. You can get started by using apps on your phone like Expense Manager and mint.com to document your progress. IMPORTANT: Never budget more than you can afford and give your budget a little wiggle room for discrepancies.
#3. Save. Have an emergency fund for at least 6-8 months of expenses. After all you never know what might happen in the future. Better to be safe then sorry.
#4. Get rid of credit card debt ASAP! Don’t just pay the minimum, your interest rates on the card may add up to a hefty amount quickly. To prevent excessive interest nerdwallet.com allows people to compare their own credit card rates versus other companies.
#5. Watch your bills. Make sure to pay all of your bills on time and analyze them as bills can have errors! Check your bills to ensure you’re not getting charged for something you didn’t actually buy. There websites that will display hidden charges/fees or fraudulent charges on your credit card. An example would be billshrink.com.
#6. Download money saver apps on your phone. For example, the app redlaser allows you to scan an items barcode and see if you can get the item for less elsewhere by scanning through nearby stores and websites like amazon.com. (NOTE: Not all stores have their prices listed online) Another app that may be useful is tweetalicious which will list off Twitter deals from certain retail stores.
#7. Live below your means. Don’t live on what you make. Live on less than what you make that way you can save for the future.
#8. Start a savings account you can’t touch. A 401k is a great way to start because it comes out of your paycheck before you see a dime and you can’t pull it out until you’re retired. Other good savings plans that will penalize you for early withdrawal are IRA’s and CD’s.
#9. Financial plans don’t fail people. People fail financial plans by not mapping out their plans with a clear goal. “People who make specific plans save more than people who don’t”. Those who have specific financial plans that detail what they want-for example, retirement at 65 with a paid-off mortgage and enough money to take trip to Europe every year-save more than those who don’t have detailed plans. Plans may change, but if that does happen revising your plans is better than not having any plans at all. (The last three bullets were taken from the prevention magazine.)