1. Don't spend more on your car each month than you are saving for retirement.
This may be overly simplistic, but it can help answer the question, “can I really afford this car?” Before you bite off a large monthly car payment, take a look at your retirement account. Are you putting away at least that amount for your golden years? If not, reassess your priorities and find a less expensive way to get around. This rule may not apply to every scenario, but can serve as a good reference point.
2. Self-audit. Review your spending every month. No excuses!
This rule serves a dual purpose. The first is to keep you (and your partner) focused on your financial priorities. Reviewing a budget allows you to know where you stand. The second is to protect yourself from fraud and identity theft. If there are any false transactions on your accounts, you are much more likely to catch and fix them if you are reviewing your finances regularly. This may not be fun, but it will give you peace and confidence with your money.
3. Set a short term goal every year and achieve it.
Do you want to pay off a credit card or student loans? Perhaps go on a family vacation, undertake a home improvement project, or make a gift to your church or a charity? Set a short-term, attainable goal every year and chip away at it each month. It will help keep you focused and motivated. It will also feel really good when you accomplish a new goal each and every year.