What do you want to be when you grow up? Remember being asked that question as a child? How exciting it was to imagine being an adult and doing something heroic or famous such as a firefighter or a pop star.

That is where the journey began. During the school years, you were told to study hard to get good grades so that a college would accept you. Then, going to college meant a whole new lifestyle to adapt to while still putting in the work for a high GPA. A college diploma was soon in your hands, and then what? Were you prepared for the reality of paying back student loans whether or not you landed your dream job? Most graduates are not aware of the financial responsibilities that come along with earning that college diploma.

PwC’s Employee Financial Wellness Survey in 2016 stated that 64% of millennials are stressed about their finances. This stress is mainly due to managing large amounts of student loan debt and having to put off financial milestones such as buying a home and getting married. This generation is also being targeted by credit card companies. In the instant gratification society we live in, those impulse purchases are being financed and taking years to pay off.

Things are not all doom and gloom, however. There are ways to overcome these challenges and live the life you always wanted to. Here are some areas to focus on:

Track your spending. In order to make changes to your finances, you have to discover where all of your hard earned money is going. This means recording every penny spent, no matter how small. The smaller purchases tend to be more frequent than you realize and add up quickly. Starting a budget can sound scary and overwhelming, but it’s easier than you think.

Make a plan. Why do most diets fail? It’s not always because people are unwilling to change their eating habits, but often because they don’t plan healthy meals ahead of time. Failing to plan your spending and how you will eliminate debt will lead to increased financial stress. Now that you have tracked your spending, look for areas that can be trimmed. Set yourself spending targets in each category and then track your progress. Allow yourself to make adjustments as needs and as circumstances change.

Get yourself a financial mentor. Much like hiring a personal trainer to help you get physically fit, you want to find someone with the financial results you want. This person can coach you and hold you accountable. Whether it is a successful friend or family member, a trusted professional, or a famous financial guru, the important thing to remember is not try to tackle this alone. Lean on someone that has the knowledge you are seeking and a proven track record, and you can expect better results.

Do not let financial hardships cloud your perception of how your adult life will be. If you want your financial picture to change, let’s take steps to make it happen.

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