If you haven’t heard of Dave Ramsey, financial guru, familiarize yourself with his name now. (We even mentioned his financial show as the top money podcast to follow in a recent blog!

Ramsey has helped millions get out of debt, but he’s no fad or get-rich-quick scammer. He simply teaches you how to employ practical financial strategies to taking control of your money – and it works. Whether you’re 21 or 67, it’s never too late to start on his 7-baby-step plan:

BABY STEP 1 – Save $1,000 for your starter emergency fund. As fast as you can. When something unexpected comes up (and it will!), you’ll have a safety net.

BABY STEP 2 – Pay off all debt (except the house) using the “debt snowball” method: start by listing all of your debts (except for your mortgage) in order by balance from smallest to largest. Then knock them out one by one!

BABY STEP 3 – Save 3–6 months of expenses in a fully-funded emergency fund. This will protect you against life’s bigger surprises, like the loss of a job or your car breaking down, without slipping back into debt.

BABY STEP 4 – Invest 15% of your household income in retirement. It doesn’t matter how old you are; anything is better than $0, right? 

BABY STEP 5 – Save for your children’s college fund. Ramsey recommends 529 college savings plans or ESAs (Education Savings Accounts).

BABY STEP 6 – Pay off your home early. Can you imagine your life with no house payment? Any extra money you can put toward your mortgage could save you tens (or even hundreds) of thousands in interest.

BABY STEP 7 – Build wealth and give. Once you’re completely debt-free (and we’re talking credit cards, student loans, cars, mortgages, children’s college, and retirement is all paid off), you get to have fun with your money. Become insanely generous. Leave an inheritance for your kids and their kids. Donate to your favorite charities. Buy yourself that yacht you’ve always wanted — with cash, of course.

This 7-baby method is strategic, practical, and versatile enough to start at any age, at any financial situation, no matter how bad or good your debt is. It’s never too late, but don’t forget that this method is a marathon, not a race. It can take decades to get to step #7, and that’s okay! Along the way, you’ll discover financial freedom and a heck of a lot less stress – and that’s key to living happily.

Learn more about Dave Ramsey’s financial freedom strategy here: www.daveramsey.com