Whether you’re a young person in your first job or looking toward retirement, I’ve got the financial principles to follow that can make a dramatic difference in your life: 

  • Your first priority should be: Getting out of debt. Financial adviser Dave Ramsey says the average household has over $15,000 dollars in credit card debt. But if you only make minimum payments, paying it off will end up costing you $22,000 dollars in interest. Bottom line: Paying even an extra hundred dollars a month will save you a whopping $16,000. 

  • The next crucial piece of financial advice: Create a budget. Most people don’t bother to come up with a monthly budget because they believe it’s too harsh and restrictive. But experts say that people who track their spending are actually happier because they feel like they have more control over their lives. That’s because budgets eliminate waste and help you focus on what you really need. 

  • And here’s some financial advice that surprises a lot of people: Take a vacation. Economist Wallace Huffman says that taking two weeks off every year will boost your overall productivity by a whopping 60-percent. Plus research shows that people who take vacations have lower lifetime healthcare costs because vacations help relieve the stress that hurts our health. And you don’t have to break the bank, either. An inexpensive road trip will do the trick.  

  • This last financial tip helps you several ways: Don’t use more than 10-percent of your available credit. In other words, if your credit limit is $5,000 dollars, don’t charge more than $500 bucks. According to the website MyFico.com, limiting your credit use to a tenth of what you have available helps prevent impulse buys because you’ve set a spending limit. And more importantly, keeping your charges below 10-percent significantly raises your credit score. So you’ll get the best interest rates and pay less for car insurance.