1. Don’t make your finances a one-off
Linda Descano CFA, president and CEO of Citi’s Women & Co.

“The best of the best own their financial health. They don’t just make plans. They take action, then make corrections based on what they learn or changes in their lives. They regularly gauge where they are and whether they’re on track with where they want to be. Have a good grasp on the key indicators of your financial health, such as credit score, net worth, and cash flow. Seeing what you look like on paper might be daunting, but it’ll give you the most accurate read of where you’re at.”

2. Be flexible about retirement
Carol Zwick, retiree, Buttercup Counts Her Blessings

“I started planning for retirement 30-plus years ago and, with some slips and slides, I got where I wanted to be. I ran the numbers often in the six years before I retired, and was especially careful with large, unplanned purchases. The economy was shaky, which meant I didn’t get a raise during my final four years of work. So I stayed for an extra year in order to up my numbers. Even though I finally made the jump, I still look at income and outgo to make sure my numbers will hold."

3. Realize that health doesn’t come at a cost
Micky Marie Morrison, physical therapist, author, and creator of BabyWeightTV

“You don't have to pay for a gym or personal trainer or go to expensive classes to exercise—you just have to have discipline and set your mind to do it. There are tons of free or inexpensive ways to stay healthy. Community and meet-up groups offer the opportunity to meet like-minded future pals, and online fitness classes are not only free to minimally-costly, they’re easy to fit into even your most hectic days.”

4. Build the fun stuff into your budget
Elizabeth Chapman, blogger, www.emyselfandi.com

“I am a spender by nature, and my husband is a total saver—a big challenge for us, especially in setting up and sticking to a budget. Our solution is to allot a little 'play money' for each of us every month. We take ours out in cash on the first of the month, don’t have to answer to anyone about it, and when it’s gone, it’s gone. That way, if I want to get a massage or buy designer jeans, I don’t have to explain myself. This cuts down on a lot of disagreements about spending by giving us the freedom to make the occasional frivolous purchases without feeling guilty.”


5. Make an art of snagging vintage finds
Serena Appiah, thrift expert at Thrift Diving

“I regularly stalk my favorite local thrift store for cast-off furniture and housewares that other people have essentially thrown away. The key is to go often—at least a couple times a week—because the popular places turn over inventory so quickly. Take a local furniture-painting class or read some popular D.I.Y. blogs for ideas on how to spruce up your finds. But before you bring home three couches, ask yourself, Would I be upset if I walked away from this? Do I have the time, energy, and materials to make this beautiful? If the answer to either question is no, leave the item in the store.”


6. Don’t pass off your finances to someone else
Maria Smith, mommy lifestyle expert, MamaliciousMaria.com

“When you’re exhausted from work, your kids are begging you to listen to the poems they wrote in school, and a sky-high pile of laundry is waiting, your finances probably aren’t the first thing on your mind. But knowing how much money is coming in and going out should be fundamental for all women. Women should know their typical monthly expenses, the amount in their savings, checking, and money market accounts, and have an idea of their retirement nest egg. Don't delegate balancing the checkbook to your husband and forget about it. Don't hand bills over to your father and walk away. Ignorance is not bliss! If you don't understand something, Google it. It’s about accumulating the knowledge you need to take care of things yourself.”