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Forget Diamonds -- Financial Advice is a Girl's Best Friend

The next time you see someone decked out in the latest trendy outfit or driving a flashy new SUV, don't assume that they have it all figured out -- financially speaking. A shocking number of Americans are projecting images with their possessions that are miles beyond what their pocketbooks can afford. But don't take our word for it -- consider the cold, hard facts: Over 70 percent (yes, 70 percent!) of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck. The bottom line is that despite outward appearances of 'affluence' over two-thirds of Americans are financially unfit.

Believe it or not, you just learned one of the keys to achieving financial success. Money insight number one is this: When it comes to a person's financial situation, all too often things are not what they seem. In Texas, this phenomenon is colorfully referred to as 'big hat, no cattle.' Trust us, you'd be simply amazed at how many people project outward images of prosperity when in the privacy of their own homes money issues stress them out like nobody's business.

Consequently, year after year, gaining control of one's personal finances ranks in the top three of the proverbial New Year's to do list. Millions of men and women realize they need a good financial tune up. While important to both genders, all too often it's women who are left holding the purse strings at the end of the day. Did you know that more than 90 percent of women will find themselves the sole keepers of their personal finances at some point in their lives?

You deserve the comfort of knowing -- whether single or coupled up ? that you are living your life from a position of financial strength. The good news is that contrary to popular perception, getting into financial shape is not complex. Despite all the fancy strategies discussed on television and in the papers, when you boil it down, the basic recipe for financial success is pretty straightforward: (1) learn to live within your means; (2) invest your savings wisely; (3) and protect yourself against the unforeseen.

During 2007, our monthly column will help you understand the key steps you need to take to achieve these three objectives. So as you contemplate your 2007 New Year resolutions, consider this one: "I want to be in control of my finances." If thinking about money feels scary or overwhelming, know that you are not alone. Because personal finance is one of those things, like parenting, that you are just supposed to learn 'as you go along,' literally millions of people end up feeling lost in a sea of financial confusion. It doesn't have to be this way. Learning ? and acting on ? a few simple financial lessons will put you firmly on the path to financial empowerment. Now that's a great way to ring in the New Year!

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