You're standing outside watching your neighbor park a new Corvette in his driveway. You stare at your 10-year old Ford and wonder, ''What am I doing with my life?'' Before you start the comparison game, here's how you can manage your money now to live your dreams in financial security.

Rule 1: Know what YOU want, be specific and detailed, and how you will achieve those objectives.  Saving for retirement?  What does that that look like?  Will you travel?   Where?  How much?  Do you want to a start a business in retirement?  What will that require?

Rule 2: Visualization is a powerful tool.  If your current financial objective is to own a house, be specific about size, neighborhood and amenities. When you can “see” your goals you can stay focused on them and avoid such distractions as $84,000 cars and $3,100 Fendi purses.


Rule 3: A successful financial strategy is based on honesty, priorities, budgeting and discipline. When considering an indulgence -- a fancy car, exotic vacation, or elaborate hobby – the first question should be, Why?  Is this a hey-look-at-me thing, or will you get real and lasting satisfaction from your expenditure?

Rule 4: If your motivation is healthy, the next step is to see how this undertaking fits into your priorities and budget.  How will this additional cost impact your ability to pursue established priorities? Can you truly afford it with your current income and expense structure?   If not, there are options – maybe a second job, or trimming other expenses to free up money for your passion.  With a little effort, you can also cut the cost of your indulgences. Book that amazing vacation on the cusp of the off-season, or find a comparable, less popular destination.  And does your dream car have to be new?

Rule 5: A successful financial plan is a straddle that allows for enjoyment today while building wealth and security for tomorrow. The next time you watch your neighbor pile his new Calloways in the Maserati for a round at the country club, smile, wave and remember that we’re all on our own financial paths.  If you have chosen wisely, your modest sacrifices will be greatly rewarded in time.

As radio host Dave Ramsey says, “If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.”

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