I didn't start having money problems until I graduated from college. Money had always just come to me in one way or another, through big, timely gifts from family, scholarships or awards, and obviously loans. Besides which, I didn't really have expenses to speak of. Money was so little a concern that I didn't even really worry about landing a job or having a career, figuring things would just create themselves like they always had. So it wasn't until I graduated in 2007 that I really reckoned with the value of a dollar, what my money values are and why I have those set of values. The first step to getting to a place of financial health for me was definitely figuring out what were my money values and belief system. I looked to see if it made sense, and then if I needed to reform any beliefs that were getting in my way. There are some great books that can help you do to that, like entrepreneur Alexa von Tobel's Financially Fearless. Another great read for me was Beth Kobliner's Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties. Even though I know that time isn't money -- time is life! -- I'm much better off for knowing what my beliefs are that inform my habits and why they exist. That has helped me to take proactive steps to take a look at my situation and ask myself how I can improve it.
Last year I built an Excel file with a few buckets, listing out all of my 1) assets, 2) expenses, 3) debt (credit cards, student loans, etc.), and 4) anticipated income. I update it almost every week, and sometimes more often, though it's not necessary to. Using that one file, I'm able to budget out my month, chart growth, and best of all, see a snapshot of my total financial situation. The numbers seem less daunting and more manageable when they're in front of you (no matter what they are -- how objectively great or gross) because at least you know what you're dealing with. You can be more strategic about problem-solving because you can actually identify what the problems are. It's all right there! It's then much simpler to move out of predicaments that are holding you back in a way that's functional and mature and not disoriented or overwhelmed. That's financial freedom!