There are plenty of ways to save money and make it work for you. However, they can often be complicated or even downright confusing. With the proper information and planning, you can form habits that are financially responsible, pay off your debts more quickly, and save more money for the things you really want to do.

While it seems that a lot of people just live from paycheck to paycheck, often falling short a few days before pay day rolls around, there is a better way. Rather than drifting through life, buying on credit and spending without thinking ahead, you can come up with a financial plan that will work for you.

Here are some basic steps in finding your financial freedom:

  1. Set personal goals. If you are married, speak with your partner and set joint goals. Think of what you want to eventually have or do, like a bigger house, a trip overseas, or any number of other ultimate goals you hope to accomplish.

  2. Consider your current situation. Go over all of your assets, debts and income and figure out your net worth. Determine whether your net worth has been growing or shrinking over the past several years. If it is already growing, you can always improve, and if it is shrinking, you will need to find ways to reverse it.

  3. Keep track of your spending. One of the most important parts of controlling your finances is to know how much you are spending, and what you are spending it on. Although this sounds simple, many people do not do it. It can be very enlightening when you sit down and actually figure up the numbers. Note where you are spending the most.

  4. Make the necessary adjustments. Find the places where you can cut back. You can probably cut out a lot of smaller money drainers by making your own coffee and dinners at home, rather than going out often. You can also make big cuts, if possible, like finding cheaper forms of entertainment. Go to discount movies, or watch videos at home instead of the theater. Make you next family trip somewhere closer to home rather than an expensive hot spot.

  5. Develop a plan. Now that you are saving money in some areas, it is time to decide how best to use that money. The first place to start, typically, is with paying off debts. Most likely your debts are compounding with interest charges, and if you do not want it to keep piling on until it is too late, start paying it down as much as you can. This will save you money in the long run, and the feeling you will have when you are debt-free is indescribable.

  6. Start investing. Just as your debts grew due to interest, your investments will also grow with interest and proper investment. It is never a bad idea to seek the help of a professional, who can help you find the best ways to capitalize on your money and increase your funds.

  7. Stick to your plan. Do not let yourself slide back into old habits. Keep up your willpower when it comes to your spending, and keep track of your debts and investments, as well as your credit standing. If you see discrepancies, address them immediately.

Other things to consider are purchasing the right amount of insurance at the right price, and having a will drawn up. This will ensure that your loved ones are not left saddled with your debts, and that your assets are distributed as you see fit, if anything ever happens to you.