Today many americans are concerned about their financial futures.  They only have to look at the closest television set or read the newspaper to see that they are not alone.  There are five steps that can be taken today to ensure financial freedom.

1.  Set Financial Goals - Make a List of 3 to 5 Financial goals for short-term (6 mos to 1 year).  Medium Term Goals (2 to 5 years) and Long Term (5 + years).   When setting your goals you should clearly state the following:  Be specific about the goal.  Set a time limit to carry out your goal.  Decide who will be responsible for accomplishing the goal.

2.  Prepare a Spending Plan-A spending plan is your way of telling your money what do for you.  By establishing a Spending Plan you can begin to take control of your financial life.  This plan entails all of your monthly living expenses to include fixed and variable.  Make sure that you don't forget the smaller expenses; return trips to the store, hair cuts, subscriptions, etc.  I want to add a tip here to ensure the  accuracy of your spending plan; a month before preparing your spending plan you should track your daily spending.  This tracking will give you a clearer picture of how you utilize your income.

3.  Pay off Your Debt-Consumer debt is higher now than it has every been.  Credit Cards, Installment Loans and Mortgages can easily consume over 65% of your income.  By paying down your debt, you can free up money needed for savings, retirement, and fun.   Many people save money in a saving account with a rate of return less than .o5% and carry credit card debt with an interest rate over 23%, by paying off their credit cards they essential give themselves a 23% return on their money.   Who wouldn't be happy with that?

4.  Establish an Emergency Fund-Unexpected expenses are a part of life.  The things that we don't plan for are the things that tend to destroy our financial stability.  You should strive for 6 to 9 months of monthly living expenses.  This money can be derived from the total of your monthly living expenses.  Start small and build your fund gradually.  Before you know it you will have reached your goal.

5.  Save, Save, Save-You should always pay yourself first.  Treat savings like a debt and make payments to yourself monthly.  There are many ways to save money.  You can do an automatic draft from your pay.  Save your income tax refund every year.  Save half of any bonus or promotion.  Take a second job and save the additional income.

By following these five steps, you will be well on your way to financial freedom.