UNITED STATES—Ok, I know many people just like myself are happy that Christmas will soon be over. Why? Well, you no longer have to worry about spending money on gifts and one can begin to get those finances in order. Yes, finances. While so many people are concerned about getting healthy in 2017, which is great, it’s more important to get those finances in order.

To start, you have to know what income you’re bringing in and what you are paying out in expenses. Once you have an idea of what income you make on a weekly or monthly basis, it’s time to calculate what those monthly expenses are.

First, your main expenses are not going anywhere! So you have to prepare for them as much as possible America. Next, credit card debt is a major stressor for most people. Look at your cards and make a plan to pay off those cards that have a high interest rate. Interest alone is the killer to most people’s wallets. No matter what you pay, if you’re not edging yourself to paying off that debt, the debt continues to climb which makes one assume it’s never-ending.

Be disciplined. While it’s easy to swipe that plastic, refrain from doing so to ensure you’re not accruing more debt, interest or stress. Plastic can be your friend, but it can also be your worst enemy. The one thing to promise is once that debt off a major credit card or retailer has been paid off, DON’T USE THE CARD anymore! Put it away and don’t tempt yourself; stay away from places where temptation may creep up. Remember a WANT and a NEED is not the same thing. A NEED is something you have to have to live; a want is something that usually makes one feel better about themselves.

At the end of the day, materialistic things cannot purchase happiness. No matter how much we say otherwise, it just doesn’t happen people. Once you have an idea of what needs to be paid off, do your best if at all possible to double up on your payments to pay off that debt much quicker than if you were paying the bare minimum. Making minimum payments is good to keeping one’s credit from defaulting, but it doesn’t help pay off that high interest many of us see time and time again.

It’s important to try to cut out unnecessary expenses to save money. What can be done? First, look at what things are absolute musts and which are not. Those stops to Starbucks, McDonald’s and primping and pampering that are not ESSENTIALS on a day to day basis. I’ve already sworn off fast-food, sweets, and those high priced food items that are not must from my list. Why? The goal is for me to save people, save as much money as possible.

Now, the big thing to discuss is that tax refund check that many of us are expecting. Yes, so many people love January, February, March and April because it means they are anticipating that refund check. However, it’s important to be smart with that extra money from Uncle Sam people. Why? Well, you can choose to blow the money on that fancy coat, car, or pricey item that has eluded you for months. Or, or, you can take some of that money to climb out of debt, paying off 1 or 2 or all of your credit cards, and then using your paycheck to save for other things like a vacation, new car or a down payment on a house.

The most important thing to remember when it comes to getting one’s finances in order is the importance of sacrifice. You sometimes have to be willing to sacrifice the things you want to ensure you have the things that you need. You might hate being broke, but I rather be broke and have all my debt paid off, versus be loaded with cash and have a ton of creditors to pay off.