Expert Advice from Money Gurus: Renée Cooper

Renée Cooper is a financial consultant at Wintrust Wealth Management.

Here’s her best advice to take control of your finances: 

What can I do today in 30 minutes or less to take better control of my finances?

You always need to pay yourself first, whatever money you make; before you spend it on anything else (rent, mortgage, car, credit cards, IRS for taxes), put some aside for your future. What determines your wealth is not how much you make, but how much you keep of what you make. Always pay in cash (not credit or debit cards), since it has been shown that people spend 20 percent less when they pay in cash. Also, get a journal and track every dollar you spend for at least one week. You will be surprised how much of your money goes to unnecessary purchases.

How do you teach your own kids to be financially responsible?

Sit down with your children early on and teach them about saving. Have them open an account to put any money they earn in. Teach them about good purchasing decisions, and have them understand what things really cost. When they are in the workforce, make sure they contribute to their company’s 401(k) (Roth if offered), and at least max out the company’s match percentage (if the company matches).

What are some things you think are worth splurging on?

I think everyone should budget for a vacation. It is vital in this fast-paced, complex world we live in today to take some time to relax. It is a very important mental- health break that everyone needs.