Tip No. 1: Know where money goes

Financial experts offer these suggestions for becoming better informed about money:

* Track your expenses for four weeks in a small notebook. See where your money goes.

* Pay cash. "When you pull cash out of your wallet, you're going to think differently [about a purchase] than if you flip plastic," says Joan Perry, author of "A Girl Needs Cash."

* Read books, the business section of newspapers, and financial publications.

"Invest your first $100 in buying books and magazines," says Brooke Stephens, author of "Talking Money, Making Sense," then spend half an hour a night reading them.

* Find ways to economize. "Do your nails yourself instead of getting a manicure," Ms. Stephens suggests. "Brown-bag it for lunch once a week. Find fun things to do that don't cost money."

* Save 10 percent of what you earn. "Make yourself No. 1 on your own payroll," says Stephens. "And make an appointment with yourself to review your financial situation once a week."

* Talk to a financial expert who is not related to you. "Every person needs to have an unbiased professional to bounce ideas off and strategize with," says Julie Garella, a financial adviser in Charlotte, N.C.

* Invest in your retirement plan at work.

* Consider starting or joining an investment club.

* Don't be shy about asking for information. "There is no dumb question," says Gail Shapiro., who gives financial literacy classes for women in Wayland, Mass.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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