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Pay Off Student Loan or Credit Card Debt

In order to accomplish this goal, always make your payments on time without incurring any additional debt. If you really want to get this monkey off your back, try to make more than the required minimum monthly payment. If you're able to do that, you'll not only speed up the time it takes you to get out of debt, but reduce the total cost of debt you generate from finance charges.

Save Money

Invest in your company's 401(k). Start your retirement savings as soon as possible and don't touch the money until you retire. The savings will be debited directly from your paycheck. You won't even miss it! You'll be amazed at what a difference it makes by starting your retirement savings at a young age.

Start a short-term savings account to cover unexpected expenses. You can even begin by taking your spare change every day and setting it aside. At the end of the month, put it in a savings account. Don't feel overwhelmed by how little you have. It takes time to build a healthy savings—the important part is getting it going!

Avoid Credit Cards

If you want to buy something but know you could never afford it without a credit card, you shouldn't be buying it! Be patient. Rewards are much sweeter when they are earned.

Living within your means doesn't mean banning fun. Instead, make it a challenge to find a resourceful way to spend your hard-earned dollars. Doing it with spirit and adventure makes you look wise, and your nonexistent credit card balance will cushion you from bad economic times.

Clarky Davis is the author of the Debt Diva Blog and the Debt Diva's 2008 Financial Guide . She offers budgeting and money management advice based on her own experiences and over five years working in the debt management industry, and is additionally a spokesperson for CareOne Services, helping consumers gain control over their debt.

Suze Orman's 9 small steps that will pay off big

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