Does money seem to slip through your hands like water?  If your finances are out of control, you need to give them a makeover so you can direct the flow of your money.  Don’t waste your income on interest payments for debt.  Use it to build wealth instead.

Here are some steps in the process of building lasting wealth:

• Don’t live in denial.  Admit the problems that debt is causing in your life – stress, anxiety, exhaustion, damaged relationships and more.

• Commit to live ahead of the crowd.  Know that just because most people are saddled with debt doesn’t mean you have to be.  Decide that you want a better life than what the cultural norm offers.

• Realize that debt is not a tool.  Recognize that the risks you incur when you take on debt far outweigh any ways you could leverage it to build wealth.  Understand that debt makes banks wealthy; not you.  Don’t put your relationships in danger by borrowing from or loaning to a friend or relative.  Never co-sign a loan.  Avoid rip-offs like cash advance loans, rent-to-own plans, whole life insurance, and car leases.  Instead of pursuing debt consolidation (where you’re only treating the symptom), get to the root of the problem by aggressively paying down your debt.  Don’t use credit cards unless you can pay them off entirely each month.  Choose a 15-year mortgage over a 30-year one.

• Destroy money myths by learning the secrets of rich people.  Avoid “get rich quick” scams and instead build your wealth by the time-tested method of working for it.  Start saving as early and as much as you can to provide for your own retirement rather than depending on other sources of income that likely won’t materialize.  Never buy a new car because it will lose much of its value during the first few years you own it.  Instead, buy used cars that are in excellent condition.  Avoid all forms of gambling, like the lottery and casinos.  Develop a budget, retirement plan, and estate plan.  Don’t prepay your child’s college expenses or your own funeral costs; instead, save the money for these things yourself.  Never file for bankruptcy.  Never go without health insurance.  Draw up a will. 

• Don’t worry about keeping up with your neighbors. Realize that your neighbors are most likely broke and struggling with a heavy load of debt to keep up appearances. 

Don’t let peer pressure dictate how you live your life.  Live to please God instead of other people.  Ask God to give you the grace you need to be content.  Ask Him to show you how much He loves you, and know that real love doesn’t depend on what you have or how you look.

• Take baby steps to reach your goals little by little.  Create a written budget for each month.  Catch up on your bill payments so you don’t lag behind any longer, and focus on the necessities first (food, shelter, utilities, clothing, and transportation). Save $1,000 cash to set aside as a starter emergency fund to help you deal with inevitable, expensive circumstances that surprise you.

• Attack your debt.  Make a list of your debts (except for your house), listing the ones with the smallest payoff amounts first.  Then work your way down the list, paying off small debts first to encourage yourself and working your way toward eliminating large debts.  Get mad about your debt and determine that you will focus intensely on the task of paying it off.  Consider working overtime or taking an extra job until your debts are paid.

• Finish funding your emergency fund.  After you reach the point where you have no debt except for your mortgage, add onto your $1,000 emergency fund.  Fully fund it to the point where it can provide all your expenses for three to six months in case you get laid off from your job or face major, unexpected bills.