As far as I'm concerned, I am qualified to write this because I am both the only honest person you know and the only millionaire you know (and more importantly, I was a millionaire younger than you'll ever be, unless you're still a teen, in which case good for you!). As far as you're concerned, make up your own mind, but bear in mind that whatever it comes to you're not going to be able to change mine.
Step I. Calculate your net worth. This is the one most important move. You add together the value of everything you own, correctly evaluated. That value is not equal to what you paid for the item, that value is not equal to what you'd pay for the item (even if disguised under the very transparent yet incredibly common "what an imaginary person would pay for the item if they had infinite money while simultaneously being my hand puppet, unable to disagree with me in any sense"), that value is strictly equal to what the item would bring on the open market minus any costs for the sale.
Thus, with examples : if you own an open can of soda, your open can of soda is worth nothing. Not because it has absolutely no value at all - clearly it has a little residual value left - but because the costs of marketing it far exceed that value. If you "own" a house, on which a bank holds the mortgage and your contract specifies you have to pay penalties for early repayment, then your house is worth whatever it goes for in the market minus all the encumbrances (the mortgage, the bank fees, the realtor fees, the deed transfer fees, everything). If this comes to a negative value you own a liability not an asset, and it will correspondingly reduce your net worth.
Step II.1. If your net worth is negative you declare bankruptcy. No ifs or buts about it, right now, not tomorrow, you file.
If you are one of the unfortunate klutzy types trapped into one of those situations where you can't legally erase your debts (such as most US schmucks) you leave your prison. No ifs or buts about it, right now, you buy your plane tickets and you're out of therei. Where do you go ? Anywhere, pick a developing country to your liking and go. The whole selection process may not take longer than half an hour, and that if you have time to proceed leisurely. Note that while it's quite immoral to squeeze all the cash you possibly can out of your credit arrangements before you high tail it, most people end up millionaires by not giving a shit about such considerations.
If you're stuck with a womanii that raises the slightest objection to any of the foregoing she's part of your problem and you're leaving her behind. I don't care how much you think you love her, there's no such thing as loving obstacles. If she's not there to help you she's not there at all, you're imagining things. She does however get one day off to rage and vent if she has any children, hold her tight and explain things again in the morning. The children don't get anything. They're coming whether they like it or not and they get to choose one single toy. They don't however get to carry any of their identity or status items, such as posters, accessories, attitude jeans and whatever the fuck. If they don't have any plain clothes at all you're an idiot for allowing this, and they're coming along dressed in sacks.
Step II.2. If you're not actually net negative, rare as that may be among the native English speakers, you proceed to make your first annual budget. There's no requirement to wait for any date in particular, tomorrow is going to be when your personal fiscal year begins and ends and that's that.
The most important thing to understand about budgets is that income is completely irrelevant in this discussion. You will list all your planned expenses for the year, which means ALL of them without exception. You will then classify these, in three categories : required (R), productive (P) and discretional (D). All items required to maintain your life, such as food (but not such as gas for the car, or a gym membership - go run around the block with the dogs!) or health insurance go into R. All items that deliver you a direct financial benefitiii go into P. There is no "indirect" financial benefit flowing from sophistical nonsense such as "skittles make me happy and I need to be happy to do good work and so keep my job". Fuck you, the beatings will continue until your happiness improves, you need no motherfucking skittles. Finally, everything else you are going to spend during the year goes into D.
There are two rules to observe about this budget. The most important is that no money may be spent at any point during the year if it's not in the budget. No matter what happens. No. Matter. What. Happens. I am positive that this being your first time as a responsible adult you will fuck up your budget horribly, and by the ninth month or so at the latest you'll be well fucked. It makes no difference, you spend the last three months of your exercise living on the street rather than breaking the budget. This is how you learn to make the damned thing properly.
The other rule is that R may at most take 5% of your net worth, P at most 50% and D at most 1%. So, you're worth 10k ? You will live a year on 500 dollars. How ? Not my fucking problem. Your problem. Go do it. This is how you learn exactly how much net worth is actually worth, and why you have to respect those who are worth a little more than 10k. This is what motivates you to work seriously the next year : the plain knowledge that it's damned hard to live a year on 500 bucks. And don't go hiding Rs and Ds in P, either. You may bring the argument that putting food on the table is actually a P only if you are buying the cheapest possible food items. This means no-name, this means doing a lot of home cooking, this means meat once a week or once a month, and sugar once a year. That's all fine.
That's pretty much it. The first year's the hardest. On the positive side, unlike the uncounted and uncountable unfortunate fucks that had to do this raw all over the world all over history, you probably live in a time and place where they'll give you some housing and some food stamps or whatnot, which aren't part of your budget but still allow you to cover basics. Use all that to enable you to become human already.———
- If you can't afford plane tickets you buy gas and drive to Mexico. If you don't have a car you buy a bus ticket. You walk. There's no excuses. [↩]
- This is strictly for men. I have no idea how women end up with a million or a few but it seems the likeliest avenue is a well chosen divorce somewhere in the Western prison states. At least that's what the Russian speaking set thinks. [↩]
- Such as gas for the car if and only if you are using the car in your work, for instance by being a salesman who has to use his own car as per the terms of your employment. [↩]