Live on less than you make:
Use a written budget every month. Avoid keeping up with the Jones’s. Choose cost of living expenses that fit well within your budget and that allow you to have discretionary income left after covering necessities.
Protect against emergencies:
Have an emergency fund, not invested, available in a savings/money market account at the bank. Aim for 6 months of cost of living expenses in this reserve account at the bank. Secondly, carry appropriate insurance coverage: Life, health, auto, renters, ID theft, etc…Talk to a professional to review your situation.
Pay off all debt as aggressively as possible until you are debt free. Arrange debts from lowest balance to highest (snowball) or from highest interest rate to lowest (avalanche). Debt is a mathematical and emotional drain on those that carry it.
Fund you future:
Make a plan with a pro. Choose investment vehicles and accounts that fit your tolerance for risk and long-term goals. Automate good decisions by setting up auto-drafts to savings and investments monthly. Stay true to your long-term plan despite turbulent markets. Avoid making long-term decisions based on short-term situations.