In the midst of a slow economic recovery - so slow that businesses and families are truly struggling to survive financially; it's important that we understand what's lead to our terrible situation. The primary cause-agent to our debt-ridden families,businesses, states and nation is simple. It's not some sinister plot from abroad or something beyond our control. The truth of the matter, is that Americans really must stop spending beyond what we earn.

Unfortunately the lesson of the recession is largely that we have become a people that can no longer say no, when we can so easily say, "Charge it!" None of us have completely avoided being a part of this epidemic of spend-aholism and while nobody's doing it maliciously, if we don't change our ways - the true lesson of the recession - our future, personally and as a nation, is in serious jeopardy. The good news is that the steps we must take; we already know and while they're not easy steps; they are simple!

Here are the 3 simple steps that will get our finances under control.

First, we need to distinguish between our "wants" and our "needs". Most of us get into trouble because we simply don't make that differentiation and let our "wants" exceed our ability to pay. Now, the danger in not getting everything I want is that I tend to become frustrated and even spiteful and then go on a spending spree which,, naturally, just makes matters worse!

In the midst of this tough season of cutting back on our purchases, I have re-discovered a little something that has really helped my frustration. Maybe you've already realized the amazing discounts that manufacturers' and/or retailers' discount coupons, coupon codes, promo codes and discount codes! While I'm not interested in the kind of extreme couponing that buys 10 Sunday papers and has clippings all over the house, I am seriously interested in saving 30-50% on things I want but can't afford at retail. 

 The good news is that coupons (or any of their other names) have come a long way.

 * They now come in a variety of forms - from the traditional newspaper clipping to the latest, state-of-the-art, digital coupons sent directly to your smart phone.

 * Coupons work in so many more niches than before - you might be surprised.

 * Today's coupons can be worth thousands of dollars.

 Second, we must stop paying the crushing interest charges on our credit cards. Now this takes some courage because most of us don't even know how much they've been charging us and it will hurt when you finally find out. But, if you'll take the time to check what interest your credit cards are actually charging you and if it's outrageous (and it probably is) you can now be proactive about stopping this horrible drain from your family fortune. Here we are again, this is simple (but not exactly easy). All you need to do is find another credit card (or cards if your credit debt is too big for one) which charges significantly less interest (Google works great for finding low-interest credit cards) and then transfer the debt (there will be a transfer fee but the difference in interest charges will cover that fairly quickly) and start saving! 

Third, you really must develop a strategic plan for your financial future. Most of us have no plan at all and, as the old saying goes, "If you don't know where you're going - you'll likely be disappointed with where you find yourself when you get there." Now this doesn't have to be some grandiose, complicated thing; simply decide what you'd like to see in your future. Whether it's travel or a comfortable retirement (you can Google what that means in dollars and cents) or paying for your child's college education or all of the above; start taking stock of what you have to work with and how you can get to where you want this journey to take you. 

 The most important part of this, is just do it! Do it today! Don't put it off, these steps are simple and you can - and need - to do them. After you start doing any one (or preferably all three) of these, you'll start to feel better about your finances and your more secure financial future.