One day it hits you like a rock. You’re knee-deep in financial quicksand with no savior in sight. Maybe it comes as a declined credit card purchase or a minimum payment higher than your bank balance. Maybe it’s just the realization that you really are mortal and will need funds to support you when your working days are over. The bad news is you’ve got to dig out of the hole before you can build for the future. The good news is that with commitment and time, you can gain control of your finances.

 Start with these five smart steps:

  1. Pay Yourself First
  • Start a cash reserve fund with the intent of building it over time for at least 3-6 months worth of fixed expenses – rent or mortgage payments, utilities, auto payments, credit cards, food, and gasoline. Start today, even if you can only save $10 a week in the beginning.
  • If your employer offers a retirement plan, enroll immediately. Since women outlive men and often take time out of the workforce to care for both children and aging parents, it is important for women to save more than men. Women should save at least 15% of their income.
  • Saving $4/day at age 20 at 10% interest could potentially build to $1,000,000 by age 65.  Wait until you’re 30 when you will need to save $11/day. At 40, you’re up to $30/day and by age 50 it’s $95/day. The key here is to start early so you can take advantage of the time value of money. This means that your earnings are also making money for you. The longer the time period, the more aggressive you can be. The shorter the time frame until you will need the money, the more conservative you need to be, so get serious and start now!
  1. Respect Money and Control your Debt
  • Pay your bills on time, and pay off your credit card every month, if possible. If you are in debt and able to make only minimum payments, stop spending and get help immediately.
  • Buy a small journal and document every penny you spend for one week to identify your “spending leaks.” Typically, leaks are things like late fees, movie rentals, over- priced coffee, fast food, and anything else you don’t need for survival. These are the dollars you will use to begin paying off your debt and building a cash reserve.
  • Read and listen to the expert interviews in our April 2019 Ezine: Managing Credit, Debt and Bankruptcy and the April 2018 Ezine: Dealing with the Reality of Debt.  These are both fantastic resources that will give you immediate steps you can take NOW.
  1. Assess Your Current Career Path
  • How is your income affecting your life and your finances?
  • Are you passionate about your work or is it “just a job”?
  • Would you still do your job if you won the Lottery or had a magic wand? If not, then why are you still doing it?
  • Are you utilizing your unique talents and skills?
  • Are you earning what you are worth?
  • Stretch – take charge of your career, and you’ll take charge of your income.
  • If you want help with this, read our May 2019 Ezine: Changing Careers to Fit Your Lifestyle and listen to the two shows with authors, Nancy Collamer and Kathryn Sollmann.
  1. Create a Game Plan
  • Write down your money goals for the next 12 months.
  • Make your goals clear, measurable, and time-specific so you can track your success.
  • Tape the list to your mirror, on your refrigerator, or on your bedroom wall, where you can read them and focus on them every day.  We really do attract the things on which we focus, so keep your focus on what you want in your life!
  • Be sure to enroll in Unlock Your Financial Power course in the Smart Women’s Academy because I have fabulous worksheets to help you get clear on what you want, where you are stuck, and where you need to begin. In the LEAP, I help you commit to your GOAL and find your support team. And then in the PLAN, you actually begin to create your step-by-step plan to get started.
  1. Find Support and Hold Yourself Accountable
  • Surround yourself with positive and supportive people. I give you an exercise called your Theatre of Life in the Unlock Your Financial Power course so you can be proactive about this.
  • Hire and meet regularly with a financial planner. You can just start with your local banker or an online account.
  • Find a life coach or mentor.
  • Read self improvement books and learn how to be smart about money.
  • Join a virtual community for support. Once you join the Smart Women’s Academy, you will be invited to our Smart Women’s Empowerment Facebook Group in early 2020, where you will be able to find a buddy coach to work with.
  • Read our June 2018 Ezine: Thinking Big About Money where you will learn from financial gurus, Maddy Dychtwald on Standing in your Financial Power and Lewis Schiff, Thinking Big About Money.

 Money and financial growth consciousness doesn’t come in a flash. It may take months – maybe even years – to gain total control of your money, career, and finances. But if you consistently follow these steps, that day will come. And when it does, celebrate!


  • What is the one area above that is worrying you the most?
  • What is one thing that you can do today that will have the biggest immediate effect on your health, your wealth and your happiness?
  • How would this change your life?
  • Come join the Smart Women’s Academy, and access the free resources we have created for you or if you want a personal coach, you can schedule a free consultation with me at TalkWithKatana


Katana Abbott, CFP®, is a Retirement Coach, founder of the Smart Women Companies, and the host Smart Women Talk Radio with over a million subscribers.  For over 30 years, Katana has shown women how to take charge of their life and finances and believes it’s never too early to plan for expected and unexpected events like retirement, encore careers, moving abroad, or preparing for long-term care.  She has written several books, created a financial literacy course, and is a popular speaker. Katana has been honored by NAWBO as one of Detroit’s Top 10 Business Women, receiving the Breakthrough Award. To download her new ebook, The Five Biggest Money Mistakes Women Make and How to Fix Them, visit