No matter what your main financial goal is — a house, early retirement or just getting out of debt — odds are you'd like to boost your income. But will you know what to do with it when you finally do earn enough to realize your dreams?
As Suze Orman, financial expert and former CNBC host, told the audience at the 2017 eMerge Americas conference, "The biggest problem is when you do make it big and you don't know what to do with your money. Because then, what happens is some financial advisor is going to come by and give you a slick presentation, they're going to give you an elevator speech and a pitch, and you're going to take it. And you're going to lose everything that you have worked for."
The biggest mistake Orman sees people everywhere make is not taking an active role in handling their own money. Everyone is focused on the hustle, but few people dedicate the same effort to responsibly managing funds.
"I'm worried about you," she told attendees. "Every single one of you I'm worried about, because you're focusing on success, which is great, but you're not focusing on making more out of less."
Even if you're thinking, "I'm smart enough to avoid getting swindled by a dishonest advisor," you could still be in trouble if you're mindlessly racking up credit card debt or neglecting to pay down your student loans.
It's important not to get so wrapped up in your other projects that you're not paying attention to your financial health. You will never have financial freedom if you are in debt, Orman said.
"Not one of you in this room has an excuse of why you aren't dealing with your money," Orman told the eMerge audience. "Do you know your FICO score? Do you have credit card debt? Do you know how to get out of credit card debt? Do you know what type of retirement account to have? Do you know how to buy a home?"
The crux of the issue is confidence. While most people take ownership over their careers and personal lives, they're less assertive when it comes to their finances, Orman observed. Unfortunately, "you will never be powerful in life until you are powerful over your own money," she said. "How you think about it, how you feel about it, and how you invest it."
Whatever your individual financial goal, "if you want to be powerful in life, you have to be powerful over your own money," Orman said.
Personal finance author and co-host of ABC's "Shark Tank" Kevin O'Leary agrees with Orman that the key to taking control of your money starts with paying off debt. "If you want to find financial freedom, you need to retire all debt — and yes, that includes your mortgage," he tells CNBC Make It.
O'Leary says learning how to handle your finances is an important skill to learn early on.
"People today don't spend enough time thinking about the future and what they've got to save for when they get old," he says. "It's not easier when you're older to make money — it's easy to make money when you're younger. You've got to save it while you're making it — that's the whole idea of financial freedom."
This is an updated version of a previously published article.
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