Five Smart Steps for Taking Control of your Finances

One day it hits you like a rock. You’re knee-deep in financial quicksand with no savior in sight. Maybe it comes as a declined credit card purchase, or a minimum payment higher than your bank balance. Maybe it’s just the realization that you really are mortal and will need funds to support you when your working days are over. The bad news is you’ve got to dig out of the hole before you can build for the future. The good news is that with commitment and time, you can gain control of your finances.

Start with these five sensible steps:

1.   Pay Yourself First

  • Start a cash reserve fund with the intent of building it over time to at least three months worth of fixed expenses – rent or mortgage payments, utilities, auto payments, credit cards, food, and gasoline. Start today, even if you can only save $10 a week in the beginning.
  • If your employer offers a retirement plan, enroll immediately. Since women outlive men and often take time out of the workforce to care for both children and aging parents, it is important for women to save more than men.
  • Saving $4/day at age 20 at 10% could potentially build to $1,000,000 by age 65.  Wait until you’re 30 and you will need to save $11/day. At 40, you’re up to $30/day and by age 50 it’s $95.  So get serious and start now!

2.   Respect Money and Control your Debt

  • Pay your bills on time, and pay off your credit card every month, if you can. If you are in debt and able to make only minimum payments, stop spending and get help immediately.
  • Buy a small journal and document every penny you spend for one week to identify your “spending leaks.” Typically, leaks are things like late fees, movie rentals, over priced coffee, fast food, and anything else you don’t need for survival. These are the dollars you will use to begin paying off your debt and building a cash reserve.
  • Find your stuff, get organized and take charge of your finances with my signature financial organizer planning system.

3.   Assess Your Current Career Path

  • How is your income affecting your life and your finances?
  • Are you passionate about your work, or is it “just a job”? Would you still do it if you won the Lottery, or had a magic wand? If not, then why are you still doing it?
  • Are you utilizing your unique talents and skills?
  • Are you earning what you are worth?
  • Stretch – take charge of your career, and you’ll take charge of your income.

4.   Create a Game Plan

  • Write down your goals for the next 12 months.
  • Make your goals clear, measurable, and time-specific so you can track your success.
  • Tape the list to your mirror, on your refrigerator, or on your bedroom wall, where you can read them and focus on them every day.  We really do attract the things on which we focus, so keep your focus on what you want in your life!

5.   Find Support and Hold Yourself Accountable

  • Surround yourself with positive, supportive people.
  • Hire and meet regularly with a financial planner.
  • Find a life coach or mentor.
  • Read self improvement books and learn how to be smart about money.
  • Get help on the internet with a virtual community or forum group.
  • Take a tele-class or seminar focused on money, career or starting a business.

 Money and financial growth consciousness doesn’t come in flash. It may take months – maybe even years – to gain total control of your finances. But if you consistently follow these steps, that day will come. And when it does, celebrate!


What is the one area above that is worrying you the most?  What is one thing that you can do today that will have the biggest immediate effect on your health, your wealth and your happiness?  How would this change your life?  Share it below.  Thank you!

By Katana Abbott, CFP, CSA



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