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According to US News and World Report, the average American household is $203,163 in debt. When faced with such a staggering figure, it can be difficult to imagine paying it off and achieving financial freedom. If you're ready to take control over your finances, here are some steps to consider.

Make a Budget

Most of us have a general idea in our heads about how each paycheck must be spent, but it's imperative to have a concrete budget if you ever want to rid yourself of debt. Gather your monthly statements for your checking accounts and your credit cards, then check them for patterns and recurring charges. Look for way to cut back on spending by canceling unused subscriptions, downgrading services and forgoing convenience spending. Write up a workable monthly budget.

Educate Yourself about Personal Finance

Set aside time each day to learn about different aspect of money and how you can make it work for you. Knowledge is power. Check out expert sites such as to learn about everything from bonds to CDs to mutual funds. While these topics may seem baffling at first, most are accessible and straightforward. Once you've saved some money, you'll then know a bit about how to safely invest it and make it grow.

Set up an Emergency Fund

A flat tire, a leak in the roof or an unexpected illness can throw a wrench into your finances at any moment. Having an emergency fund of six months' living expenses can seem impossible when you're living from paycheck to paycheck, but it's a goal you can work towards over time. Set aside a small amount each time you're paid in an interest-bearing savings account. It will grow and provide you with the money you need when an emergency crops up.

Increase Your Earnings

If your paycheck is simply not large enough to allow you to save and budget as you'd like, it's time to consider making some extra money. To avoid burnout, you may want to look at starting a side venture instead of putting in overtime hours at work. You can use your interests and hobbies to make money. You could get into freelance writing, sell homemade wares on Etsy or resell collectibles on Ebay. All the money you make on the side can be used to pay down debt and plump up your savings.

Gaining financial freedom can be a long road, especially if you carry a lot of debt. Budgeting, saving and increasing your income will all allow you to take the steps necessary to meet your goals and get on the path to a financially secure future.

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