Take a fiscal snapshot
In order to make changes and get ahead with your finances, you need to know where you stand. This means setting up a budget -- if that word scares you too much, call it a "financial plan"-- so you can account for all of your expenses and income.
"Go through your receipts and bank statements from last month," advises Westpac Bank. "You might be surprised to see where your money goes -- and how small purchases can really add up."
Set financial goals
Do you want to save a set amount so you can buy a car? Or are you keen to build up your cash reserves in the bank, so you have an emergency buffer to deal with unexpected bills and expenses?
Whether you're saving to buy something specific or you just want to build up your cash reserves, setting some specific goals will help you get there. Rather than having a vague idea of what you'd like to achieve, create a plan so you can work towards achieving your goal in a way that is realistic and attainable: by writing your goals down and putting a timeframe on them, you'll remain motivated towards achieving them.
Get your debt under control
Having credit card debt or a personal loan isn't such a bad thing -- but allowing it to get out of control is. Credit cards provide convenience and personal loans help you to achieve goals like buying a car, but if you find yourself regularly worrying about your mounting personal debts, then it's time to take action. You could look at consolidating all of your debts into one loan, or cut up your credit cards and create a plan of attack to pay them off.
Next: more money management