December marks that time of year when we reflect on the past 12 months and what we can do differently in the new year to be more successful. Wouldn't it be great if, instead of guessing, the most well-known and respected experts could just tell you what that is?
As part of GOBankingRates' annual competition to name the best personal finance expert of the year, we gathered advice from some of the country's biggest names in personal finance to answer the question: What can Americans do to set themselves up for financial success in 2015?
Here's how 10 of the Best Personal Finance Expert finalists answered:
1. Stop playing the victim.
By Robert Kiyosaki
Americans still see themselves as victims of the job market, the economy and the uncertain future of programs such as Social Security and Medicare, according to Robert Kiyosaki, a successful entrepreneur who has written a number of best-selling books, including "Rich Dad, Poor Dad." This mindset can be detrimental and prevent you from taking control of your finances and your life.
"Can't find a job? Challenge yourself to create one for yourself," he says. "Want to start generating passive income and building assets? Do it! Find a mentor. Start a blog or podcast. Write an e-book. License your killer salsa recipe. Or join a network marketing company. You're smart and creative and talented ... so use those talents."
2. Get back to basics.
By Jeanette Pavini
If you're simply trying to save more money next year, don't forget the basics. "It all comes down to spending less and saving more," says Coupons.com's savings expert Jeanette Pavini. But that doesn't mean you have cut your expenses in half or live like a miser to be successful. "It's not just the big savings that matter," Pavini says. "Change your mindset and realize that no savings is too small; they all add up."
3. Give yourself a raise.
By Emma Johnson
One of the best ways to grow your financial success is by growing your income. Emma Johnson, RetailMeNot's senior personal finance writer for The Real Deal column, believes it's up to you to give yourself that raise in 2015.
"This might mean mustering up the nerve to ask your boss for a pay increase, starting a side business or increasing your billing if you already have your own company," she says, adding that you should be socking away at least 5 percent of your total income.
4. Get out of debt.
By Dave Ramsey
When we asked renowned personal finance expert Dave Ramsey his advice for Americans heading into 2015, you might not be surprised to learn it was simply, "Get out of debt." The foundation to Ramsey's personal finance philosophy, living debt-free is the only way you can be financially successful, he says. Make it a priority to pay down outstanding debt in 2015, so you can start with a clean slate and stop giving away money to interest charges.
5. Be intentional with your money.
By Rachel Cruze
Regardless what you want to accomplish financially, Rachel Cruze, daughter of Dave Ramsey and successful personal finance expert in her own right, says it all comes down to being intentional with your money. "That means creating a budget so you know where your money is going," she explains. "This will help you avoid debt, pay off existing debt and save for the future."
6. Set goals.
By Cameron Huddleston
"This isn't novel advice, but many Americans don't follow it," says Cameron Huddleston, personal finance journalist and contributing editor for Kiplinger.com. "Be as specific (and realistic) as possible when setting your financial goals. Let's say you want to buy a house. Don't give yourself the vague goal of saving up for a down payment. Instead, commit to saving, say, $250 a month, which you can achieve by cutting expenses. Transfer the money you save every month from your checking account to your savings account until you reach your desired down payment. "
7. Find a partner.
By Tiffany Aliche
Often, reaching your goals requires enlisting the help of a friend so you remain accountable. Tiffany Aliche, better known as "The Budgetnista," developed the Live Richer challenge to help women accomplish that 2015. "Work toward specific financial goals with an accountability partner," she says. "... Money management is a team sport."
8. Open a Roth IRA or 401(k).
By Sharon Epperson
Sharon Epperson, CNBC senior personal finance correspondent, says if you do one thing to change your financial situation for the better, it should be to save as much money as you can in Roth retirement accounts. "You could be in a higher or lower tax bracket when you're in your 60s, who knows? With a Roth IRA or a Roth 401(k), after age 59 ½, you'll generally be able to withdraw your money tax-free," she says. "... You have until April 15 to make contributions for the 2014 tax year, too."
9. Grow your personal brand.
By Josh Felber
Josh Felber, one of the country's leading entrepreneurs and business success coaches, recommends making your brand omnipresent, whether you're a business owner or individual. "Can you imagine how much financial success you would have if you, your brand and your company could be everywhere all the time?" he asks. "A great example is Donald Trump or Mark Cuban. You may or may not like them, but you know who they are and they both dominate their perspective areas."
10. Invest in yourself.
By Farnoosh Torabi
Finally, when it comes to personal finance, one of your greatest assets is you -- make sure you invest wisely. "Make 2015 the year that you choose to invest in your personal self-development, and hop out of your comfort zone. Learn something new, travel, take risks, practice your negotiating skills," says Farnoosh Torabi, author of three best-selling books, including "When She Makes More."
She predicts there will be dramatic shifts in the job market and economy over the next five years. "Rather than react to the changing times, plant some seeds now so that you can be proactive, and stay in control of your career and remain competitive," she says.
If you'd like to find more success with your money, there's no time like the present. Make 2015 the year you take control, set goals and change your financial life for the better.
Casey Bond is the managing editor of GOBankingRates, a leading source of the best interest rates, personal finance news and more. Visit GOBankingRates all December to cast your vote for the best personal finance expert.