Americans essentially share the same financial goals, which, for the most part, can be boiled down to saving money, paying off debt and retiring comfortably. But with a sea of financial advice out there -- as diverse as it is vast, and varying in accuracy -- the how is where most people struggle in reaching those goals.
If only all of that information could be boiled down to a few simple, actionable steps that actually work.
Well it looks as though 2015 is the year that wish will be granted. As a part of an annual competition to name the best personal finance expert, the most well-known and respected names in finance and entrepreneurship shared their advice for finding financial success next year.
Taking Control of Your Money
“Americans can stop seeing themselves as victims — of the job market, Obamacare fallout, economic downturns, and the uncertain future of programs like Social Security and Medicare — and stop relying on someone else to ‘save’ them,” said Robert Kiyosaki, successful entrepreneur and author of the best-selling personal finance book of all time. “It starts with education, especially financial education … so make 2015 the year you champion your life and take control."
And it's Kiyosaki's advice that sets one of the major themes for 2015: Take control of your life, both personally and financially, to achieve major money goals.
Rachel Cruze, a financial educator who learned from the best (her father is the best-selling author and renowned personal finance expert Dave Ramsey), said you should manage your money with purpose. "Be intentional with your money," she said, explaining that means budgeting so you know exactly where your money is going, rather than wondering where it all went.
Emma Johnson, seasoned personal finance writer and savings expert for RetailMeNot, agrees. To her, taking control specifically means giving yourself a raise rather than waiting for financial success to come to you. "This might mean mustering up the nerve to ask your boss for a pay increase, starting a side business, or increasing your billing if you already have your own company," she said.
Investing in You
In addition to taking a more active role in your financial life, experts agree that you should treat yourself like an investment -- and reinvest all those dividends.
“Make 2015 the year that you choose to invest in your personal self-development and hop out of your comfort zone,” said best-selling author Farnoosh Torabi. “Over the next five years we’re going to see dramatic shifts in the job market and economy. … Rather than react to the changing times, plant some seeds now so that you can be proactive and stay in control of your career and remain competitive."
Those dramatic shifts Torabi predicts include the rise of business owners and "solopreneurs"; in 2012, entrepreneurial activity reached a 14-year high. That means for those who want to become their own sources of wealth, personal branding is more important than ever.
“Become omnipresent,” was the advice of Josh Felber, an accomplished filmmaker, writer, entrepreneur, business mentor and athlete. “Can you imagine how much financial success you would have if you, your brand and your company could be known everywhere all the time? Now is the time to push the needle and create 10 times the action around who you are and what you do," Felber advised.
Remembering the Basics
However, all the insightful advice in the world can't help you if you don't stick to the basic principles of smart money management.
"The No. 1 thing people can do to set themselves up for financial success in 2015 is to go back to basics and to not allow it to become complicated," explained Jeanette Pavini, savings expert for Coupons.com. "It all comes down to spending less and saving more."
Kiplinger.com contributing editor, Cameron Huddleston, mirrored Pavini's sentiment, saying her advice to set goals isn't novel. "But many Americans don’t follow it ... They might have a vague idea what they want: enough money to buy a house, send their kids to college or retire by the age of 65. But they haven’t set actual goals and figured out the steps needed to achieve them.”
Once you have those goals figured out, CNBC's Sharron Epperson recommended saving as much money as possible in a Roth IRA. “If an emergency arises, you can withdraw your contributions at any time without incurring penalties or fees. It’s also a great way to save for retirement," she said.
And finally, financial educator, Tiffany Aliche -- best known as The Budgetnista -- said recruiting a partner to hold you accountable is the best way to ensure you stick to your plan. According to Aliche, "Money management is a team sport and in 2015."
Growing your wealth isn't inherently complicated, but doesn't mean it's easy. Remember that the fundamentals of personal finance are simple and never change. Rather, it's the world around you and your attitude that affect your ability to achieve your financial success. You can't control external factors, so make 2015 the year you resolve to make a commitment to yourself and your money, take control and relentlessly pursue your biggest goals.
Photo credit: flazingo_photos