All that talk of rules being made to be broken might apply to your old high school handbook or those curfews your parents set. Sure breaking rules and setting new boundaries might sound fun, but when it comes to financial success, these rules aren’t made to be broken. Learn how successful people regain control of their finances and secure a financial future with these 10 rules.

  1. A tale as old as time, spending less than you earn sounds like a no-brainer. Unfortunately for people consistently earning small amounts of money that don’t cover essential costs, this may prove to be one of the most difficult rules. If you find yourself spending more than you earn, cut out all unnecessary spending. Instead of paying a monthly internet bill, use public spaces like libraries or coffee shops. Entertain yourself with books, crafts, or other hobbies instead of paying hundreds of dollars for cable. Cutting costs is the first step. The next step may be to look for a higher paying job if you’re essential costs are still more than what you’re currently earning.
  2. I can hear my high school’s home economic teacher echoing through my head. “Build an emergency fund.” An emergency fund is one of those things on everyone’s to do list, but it never actually gets done. Let’s face it, not spending ‘leftover’ money is a difficult thing to hold yourself responsible for. However, emergency funds are essential. It’s the only way to stay on top of the game. You’ve finally stopped spending more than you earn, but unexpected emergencies can easily tip you back over. Having a savings of $1,000+ ensures emergencies like medical, mechanical, or anything unexpected is covered before it’s too late.
  3. Doesn’t it feel good to have some savings? Now that your emergency fund is built up, it’s time to tackle that existing debt. Anything with high-interest should be at the top of your list. Write down any of your debt, including a description, important dates, contact numbers, and total amounts. Once you’ve cut out frivolous spending, you might be surprised at how easy it is to get started on ridding that debt. Stay in contact with the debt collectors or the company you owe money to. Many times, they’re very understanding and just want to be in the loop.
  4. Hand-in-hand with spending less than you earn, the next golden rule is to build a budget. No budget is perfect the first time. Implementing, practicing, adjusting, and readjusting are all expected steps in budgeting. Once you find a budget that works best for you, stick to it. Be sure to account for things like debt payments and savings.
  5. No surprise here, successful people don’t just work for money, but make their money work for them. Buy into investment opportunities is a great way to build up a savings and to make a passive income down the road. Investing is easier than ever with apps like Acorns and Skraps.
  6. Are you reading closely? Rule #6 might be a bit of a shock. Did you know advertisers target you with emotional appeal to get you to buy things? That commercial for a new computer doesn’t know (or care) that you couldn’t afford rent last month. Who cares about rent anyways? If you buy that laptop, you’ll look as cool and productive as those people in the commercial. Here’s rule number 6: block out advertising. Whether it be mentally, or physically by spending less time surfing channels or browsing the web, avoiding advertisements is a great way to also avoid extra spending.
  7. When you create your budget, you’ll most likely dedicate a portion of your income to groceries. Additionally, you’ll want to decide how much money you want to spend on eating out. Creating a meal plan is a great way to anticipate your weekly groceries, which days you’ll eat out, and even helps with things like weight loss. Planning your weekly meals helps save time and money.
  8. Nothing sounds better to broke college kids than free entertainment. Lucky for you, even if you aren’t in college anymore, communities still host tons of free activities. Finding events on social media, through your public library, or through friends is a great way to be aware of the free things you can take advantage of. Your weekend doesn’t always have to cost a lot of money.
  9. Along with perfecting your budget, you’ll want to review your finances once a week. Has anything changed? Did you pay off your debt? Did you get a raise at work? Has your financial situation improved? Take a step back and look at the progress you’re making, or decide where you think you could still be improving. Don’t let things slip by.
  10. Rule #10 is all about the 10-second rule. Perfect for shopaholics, if you find yourself contemplating a new purchase, hold the item in your hands for ten seconds. Think about the practicality of the item. Visualize yourself using it. Actively think of reasons to NOT buy the item. Does the item fit into your long term goal? Can that money be spent better elsewhere? Will those new shoes help you reach your goals? Whatever it is, just take 10 seconds of your time. You’d be surprised how much money 10 seconds can save you.