Instead of frustrating yourself and wrecking your credit report by responding to every instant approval credit card offer you stumble across, take this time to set up a new financial plan for yourselves:

1. Cut out any excess banking fees

Stop paying someone to handle your money or to cash your checks. ING Direct, a subsidiary of Capital One, offers the "Electric Orange" checking account that costs just $5 in check printing fees to set up. You can also sign up for a free prepaid debit card from American Express that lets your employer load your card with direct deposit. The loaded AmEx card makes it just challenging enough to discourage impulse buying, while giving you the ability to return any item within 90 days.

2. Pick one card, use it for everything

Get in the habit of running as many of your monthly transactions through a single debit card as possible. You'll build the discipline you'll need to manage a rewards credit card later on, while creating a trail of transaction history that can show future lenders how far you've come.

3. Widen the gap between earning and spending

Look for every opportunity to score extra cash. Pick up a side hustle, and cut out extras like cable TV or morning lattes until you can put a buffer into your cash flow.

4. Focus on your emergency fund

It's the one thing every personal finance expert agrees on. Get every extra cent you can into a liquid savings account that you'll crack in the event of a job loss or an unexpected medical crisis. Once you've got at least six months of living expenses in the bank, take your next $500 and set up a secured credit card with a lender that charges less than $40 a year for the service. You'll have improved your cash flow by then, and you won't have to worry about paying down a balance you can't afford.

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