Seven money tips to learn and live by

Here are seven money tips to learn and live by.

1. Get to know your money personality.

I like to charge everything and pay it off at the end of the month. Others operate better on a cash or debit diet. I have no problem creating a long-term investment plan, but find I'm constantly tinkering with our family's goals for the near future. I waste a lot of time to save a little cash. And a real weakness of mine is not passing up a good deal, even on items I don't need.

Take time to reflect on your financial strengths and weaknesses. By identifying and acknowledging them, you are more likely to come up with a system that will work.

2. Commit to raising financially capable kids.

You know you're a bit nutty about money when you prattle on about coupons and wants and needs to the infant in your shopping cart. But I was pleasantly surprised one day when admiring a brightly patterned dish towel to hear my toddler announce, "You don't need that." She was right. And it was the beginning of a money conversation that continues to evolve.

Commit to financial education in school. Make a personal finance course a high school graduation requirement. We owe it to our kids.

3. Start saving early, even if you can only save a little.

Make establishing a $1,000 emergency savings fund your top priority. Then save a small amount each month. If your employer matches your investment in a 401(k), save there. If not, consider a Roth IRA.

4. Keeping expenses low is one path to freedom. But earning enough is key, too.

The fewer expenses you have, the more you can spend on things that matter to you -- family, hobbies, charitable causes. If your mortgage and car payment don't take up most of your paycheck, you'll have more flexibility and less stress if you experience a job loss or other financial road bump.

Being able to earn a good income is critical, too. Keep learning, but be smart about debt if you head to trade school or college and choose your path wisely.

5. Business news and your money are connected.

Business matters. It's all around you. It affects your personal finances and your employer's bottom line. I'm not telling you to read every story word for word, but you owe it to yourselves, your career and your retirement fund to pay attention to the companies and people doing business around you.

6. Talk about money. A lot.

I think our reluctance to speak plainly about money, paired with our competitive desire to keep up with the Joneses, helped create the super-sized lifestyles that eventually crumbled underneath so many Americans during the Great Recession.

Let's resolve to be open and honest with ourselves, our friends and our children when it comes to money.

7. It's not about money. It's about living.

Money is just a tool to help you live your best life. 'nough said.

Send e-mail to Kara McGuire at kara@karamcguire.com. For more stories visit scrippsnews.com

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