Read some books on personal finance All Your Worth by now Congresswomen Elizabeth Warren (budget book) and Deal with your Debt by Liz Weston and How to Improve Your credit score another book by Liz Weston who is on MSN money. Make improving your credit score a top priority as that will allow you to save money on everything... mortgage rates, credit card rates, car loans and even insurance. A person with a bad credit score will pay in the tens of thousands more over a life time than someone with an excellent score. Some of it is common sense pay your bills on time, monitor your credit report and score, keep your debt down, but some of it is almost like a game, you learn the tricks and can raise your score giving you more financial flexibility and better rates for loans, etc. You would think nurses would have good credit since we get paid twice as much as a CNA/secretary, but in fact, I know many nurses with poor credit who get fleeced when they need a home or car loan.
In the meantime use credit unions as much as possible for loans as they give better rates than banks. Learn to negotiate with credit card companies, cell phone
, cable and internet providers to get the best deal and be willing to switch providers if necessary. On a side note I'm surprised with how much people are willing to pay for cell phones. Single mom CNA's paying over $100/mo for a cell phone for example, that is just throwing good money away!
I also use mint.com to monitor my income/expenses and Dave Ramsey is great for people with serious debt problems, although I think he takes being debt free a little too far. I'm for a more balanced approach allowing debt can be useful at times if you get a fair loan with good terms and don't get in over your head. Debt isn't the enemy, rather bad loans, or too much debt and student loans are the worst because they have no consumer protections.
I caution people to avoid student loans, especially private ones and not to get over your head in student loan debt!