Millennial money expert Stefanie O'Connell was once an actress "chasing [her] dreams while broke." But, she educated herself on personal finance to take control of her money situation and live life on her own terms. That's why she's a big advocate of looking for ways to make more money rather than just ways to spend less.
"More than education, job title, employer or experience, how much money you make is dictated by you," said O'Connell. If you want to get ahead in 2017, renegotiate your salary and benefits package, increase your knowledge and skill set to command a higher rate, and "take action to bust through any perceived constraints on your income and command that salary that serves your goals and dreams best," she said.
Self-made billionaire Mark Cuban is known for giving guidance to budding entrepreneurs on the ABC show "Shark Tank." His money advice for anyone looking to get out of debt this year is simple: "Pay off your credit cards."
Not only should you pay off what you owe, but you should stop relying on credit cards. "Cut them up if you can," said Cuban. "Interest rates look to go up, and that will make your cards more expensive."
Automate your savings
John Rampton turned a tragic injury that left him bedridden for months into an opportunity. He used the time to learn online marketing and went on to start, purchase, grow and sell several companies. Considered a top online and marketing influencer, Rampton offers a simple tip for people who want to get ahead this year.
"Set a savings and investment amount for each week and have it automatically put away," he said. "What you can't see, you won't spend."
Award-winning journalist Bobbi Rebell offers advice from some of the world's top business leaders on how to achieve financial freedom in her new book, "How to Be a Financial Grownup." Her advice to get ahead this year is to start by getting organized.
"For me, I'm working on cleaning up my digital financial life," she said. "That means being better organized with my digital paperwork and filing system, as well as organizing my e-mail, and even being vigilant about unsubscribing to anything that might tempt me to spend money I would otherwise not spend."
Use a budget to enjoy your money more
Like her father — nationally known personal finance expert Dave Ramsey — Rachel Cruze helps educate people about how to handle money and stay out of debt. Her top money tip for 2017 is to create a written budget at the beginning of each month. But don't think of it as constricting or confining.
"A budget helps you to enjoy your money more because you know you are in control of your spending," she said. "Figure out how much income you have to work with, and list every expense you have. Assign every income dollar an outgo name. This is called a zero-based budget, and it works."
"A happy retirement is more within your reach than you think," said Wes Moss, a chief investment strategist and host of the radio show "Money Matters." His best money tip for 2017 is based on the research for his book, "You Can Retire Sooner Than You Think — The 5 Money Secrets of the Happiest Retirees."
According to Inc.com, happy retirees share five traits. They have at least three core pursuits in retirement; they've planned for the cost of those pursuits; they have a plan to be mortgage-free by retirement; they have at least three separate sources of income; and they are income investors who rely on their portfolio cash flow to replace their former paycheck.
The winner of GOBankingRates' 2017 "Best Personal Finance Expert" competition, Josh Felber is an entrepreneur and high-performance coach. This year, he said you need to take action and find the courage to achieve what you want.
"In 2017, see yourself as the best you, where everything is falling into place and transformation is happening," said Felber. "How would that look and feel? What would you be saying to yourself?"
Create a plan for your dream retirement
As an all-American football player-turned-money-expert, Chris Hogan helps people reach their retirement goals through his events and as part of Dave Ramsey's speakers group. The author of "Retire Inspired: It's Not an Age. It's a Financial Number" said it's up to you to make your dream retirement a reality.
"It is your budget, your plans, your goals, your effort and your commitment," said Hogan. "If you're going to reach retirement with dignity, it all begins and ends with you. So take the time to create a plan, communicate with your spouse and understand what steps you need to take this year in order to reach your retirement dream."
Tom Zgainer is the founder and CEO of America's Best 401k, which provides retirement plan services. Naturally, he's an advocate of saving for retirement and advises people to set aside more for the future.
"Resolve to save more, not for a rainy day — but for sunny days," said Zgainer. "For most of us, there will come a day when we are no longer employed full time. So plan for many years of active life that will be far more enjoyable if you have accumulated sufficient financial resources during your working years."
The winner of GOBankingRates' 2015 Best Money Expert competition, Nicole Lapin said you don't have to give up everything you love to save money and get ahead financially. In fact, if you treat your budget like a crash diet, you won't be able to stick to it.
Instead, create a spending plan that's like an eating plan. Allow yourself "a Hershey's Kiss so you don't end up noshing on a big ol' hunk of chocolate cake because you are so hungry and deprived the rest of the day," said Lapin. "The latte — or whatever your equivalent of a small indulgence is — is like your financial Hershey's Kiss. If you deprive yourself too much on the small stuff, you'll end up splurging on something crazy later on when you could have just planned for a morning latte and stayed on track."
Know your financial values
Lauren Greutman and her husband dug themselves out of $40,000 in debt. Now, she shares tips to help others create financial freedom on her blog, LaurenGreutman.com, and in her book, "The Recovering Spender." Greutman's top financial tip for 2017 is to know what your financial values are.
"Make your spending a reflection of your value system and establish why you want to change your financial habits this year," she said. "Doing this before you start budgeting will help you recover emotionally faster when you make mistakes. And knowing your values help you weigh every purchase decision before you make it."
Best known as the author of "Rich Dad Poor Dad," Robert Kiyosaki likes to challenge the conventional ways of thinking about money and personal finance. If you want to develop better money habits, Kiyosaki said it comes down to making the right decisions.
"Although there are lots of things in life that we can't control, there is one thing we have total control over: ourselves," he said. "The choices we make about how we spend our time and our money can give us control of our finances — and our financial future."
With millions of readers, Kyle Taylor's The Penny Hoarder website has become a go-to source of personal finance advice. He aims to make personal finance fun, which explains why he offers this interesting approach to getting ahead financially in 2017.
"Date yourself," said Taylor. "Set up quarterly check-ins to review your finances. If you don't get real with yourself, you can't get started on building a great financial future."