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Personal finance is common sense

By Kemberley Washington ·
Thursday, December 20, 2012
Posted: 9 am ET

When trying to overcome financial problems, many people seek the help of money gurus, media experts or professional financial advisers. I strongly believe financial experts are beneficial when planning your finances.

But the reality is that you need to take control of your behavior to conquer personal finance troubles. If you continue to make poor financial decisions, there is not one financial expert who can save you.

Think before you spend

It really comes down to common sense. If you make $100, you shouldn't spend $150. And really, you don't have to pay for that advice.

To get your finances in order, you will need to make wise personal financial decisions on a daily basis. Simply think before you spend every single dollar, whether it is via your debit card or cold cash. Ask yourself if you truly can afford the purchase. Is it in your budget?

Also, determine whether your purchase would move you closer to your goals or delay your financial freedom.

Use a holistic approach

Review your personal financial assets and liabilities. Determine how each fits into your short-term or long-term goals.

For example, if your desire is to retire at a certain age, will your current investments allow you to reach your retirement goals? Maybe you need to reduce liabilities and establish a plan to increase your assets if you are going to reach your goals.

Next, review your current income and expenses. Are you satisfied with your current income? Can you increase your education to earn more? Also, analyze expenses to identify where you can save money.

Money can't buy happiness

Understand what makes you happy. Some financial experts may tell you to eat a "bean-and-rice diet" to save money. But if you really like meat, what good is that going to do for you?

Remember, as you continue to reach your financial goals, there may be areas that require sacrifice. But sacrificing in ways that deplete your overall happiness may not be worthwhile.

Remember: your choice, your future!

Kemberley Washington is a certified public accountant and a business professor. Subscribe to her personal finance blog at, or follow her on Twitter.

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