It's never too late to get financially fit

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PHOENIX -- Consumer advocates will tell you that if your finances are in order, you'll be in order. You'll sleep better at night and you'll feel like you have control of your life. With that in mind, it's never too late to get financially fit.

To start, you have to be careful with your rewards credit cards. In fact, experts say stop using your rewards credit cards altogether if you can. Don't cancel the cards because canceling can sometimes decrease your credit score. Just stop using them. At first glance, free airline miles or discounts look enticing. However, these rewards cards tempt you to charge more than you normally would and that gets you into financial trouble.

Number two, buy what you need. There is a big difference in wanting something and needing it so decidce which is which in your case when it comes to purchases. Simply ask yourself, "Do I need this item or do I just want it?"

Get the best deal. This is probably one of my favorite consumer tips. Whether it's gas for your car or a pair of new shoes, comparison shop to make sure you don't overpay for something.

Deposit your tax refund. Put it in a savings account and leave it alone. Why blow it on something you probably don't need anyway.

Start direct depositing into a savings account, too. Shaving off a little from your paycheck and depositing it directly into a savings account is easy. Plus, you'll never miss it because you won't see it. You'll see your account grow in no time.

By the way, when it comes to saving, do as much as you can without making it hurt too much. A good rule of thumb to follow, according to experts, is to try and save 10 to 15 percent of your gross paycheck -- every paycheck. So do the math and see how much you should be putting away. Again, it's never too late to start.