Smart money tips from real women

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Get control of your financial situation by taking a hard look at where you are and where you want to be. Learn from your mistakes, and make a money plan now. Here are some simple steps you can take to gain control of your financial situation and make sure you're heading in the right direction.

1Put yourself first.

This isn't selfish; it's essential. The best gift you can give your loved ones is to make sure that you're financially secure -- today, tomorrow, 20 years from now. If you are, they won't have to worry about you or take you on as a financial burden. You'll gain the freedom to help others, too.

2Know where you stand.

Assess your current situation. Be brutally honest with yourself. Ignorance is not bliss! You can't hit your financial target if you don't know where you are today. This may be difficult, but you can deal with whatever issues your assessment reveals.


Start saving now.

If you don't have any savings, begin by paying yourself first. For every dollar that you earn, save a dime. Your goal is to have enough savings to survive six months without income. If that amount seems too daunting, attack it in one-month increments. In the current economic climate, this is a safety net we all need.


Pay attention.

Keep your hands on the wheel! You need to pay attention to your finances. Consult the many books and software programs available to help you out if you're scared of numbers or just bad at math. Death or divorce are traumatic enough without the added burden of unfamiliar financial responsibility. Learning these lessons now is far better than when you're in the midst of an emotional crisis.


Take care.

Nuture your finances as you do your family and friends. You always find time for them; do the same for your finances. Ask questions. Keep asking until you get the answers you need to make intelligent, informed decisions.


Don't rationalize.

Money is an emotionally charged topic for many people. Education, planning and active participation in your daily finances will help you stay in control. Can you really afford that new car or the Manolo Blahniks you covet? Your job is to think -- not rationalize an expenditure you know isn't a good idea.

Learn from your money mistakes. We all make them, but we don't have to let them dictate the future.

Vicki Clinebell majored in journalism at the University of Colorado, and headed an advertising agency before beginning a long career in broadcasting, spanning production and copywriting to sales and management for an ABC affiliate station. Deciding to switch gears and write fulfilled a lifelong ambition. She started as a blogger for a diverse group of businesses, and now writes for a number of websites for companies in her hometown in the Rocky Mountains, and provides advertising copy and media buying for national and regional clients. She finds the research as interesting as the writing, learning about subjects as diverse as construction scaffolding, child safety seats, and newest trends in beauty and fashion. As a long-time devotee of SheKnows, she’s thrilled to see her own work on the pages.