Taking Action for You: Top 5 tips to get financially fit in 2014

Ask anyone drowning in debt and they will tell you how awful it feels.

Here are five moves you can make to dig your way back into the black in 2014:

Tampa maintenance man Al Courtney said he went from a disastrous credit score and drowning in debt to being financial fit in a little over a year.

Determination drove this bill payer to Clear Point, formerly known as Credibility, a non-profit credit counseling service.

#1 Create a budget.
It  doesn't have to be any more involved than listing all sources of income and every monthly expense. Courtney tracks every pay check and expense on a calendar.

#2 Write down all your financial goals.
Be very specific. Research has proven putting them to paper increases the odds of meeting your goals.

This consumer set two goals-- build his credit score and get out of debt.

For him, that translated into brown bagging lunch every day and buying his work clothes at a thrift store.  They are sacrifices that paid off. He doubled his credit score in a year and a half and paid off, all but one of his debts.

#3 Turn your sacrifices into savings

#4 Build an emergency fund

#5 Set up an automatic deposit into your savings account and or retirement account.

As Courtney learned, you are not likely to spend what you can't see.

No financial plan would be complete without a check of your annual credit report. You can check for and dispute errors which will provide an automatic boost for your credit.