What you do with your money can get you into a financial mess – but it can also get you out.

Face it, we’re called consumers for a reason: We buy things - and that means trouble if we spend too much and struggle each month to pay our bills and can’t save anything.

Your spending makes a difference. Taking out a loan for a top-of-the-line SUV or a bigger house than you need means bigger monthly payments and higher interest costs, which can lead to struggles making payments.

Think about it: The difference between a top-model vehicle and the entry-price model can cost you hundreds of dollars more in payments each month. The same goes for the amount of interest you’ll pay over the life of the loan. That’s money you could be using to pay off credit card debt or add to your savings.

Even the seemingly ‘little things’ can add up when it comes to spending. Expenses like a gym membership, the most expensive cable package, a new smartphone every year, or dinner out on a regular basis can add up to significant dollars.

Cutting your spending by only $50 a week will save you $2,600 year – enough to pay down loans or even sink into an emergency savings account to help you cover unexpected expenses down the road.

Experts say you can help stay ahead of spending problems by following a budget. Knowing how much you owe and what your income is will give you a good picture of where you stand and what you can afford. Assess your needs and cut back wherever possible. The concept is simple: Spend less than you make then come up with a plan to put the rest into savings or investments for future use.

If it’s all too confusing, get help from a financial professional who might be able to take a fresh look at things for you.

And don’t let your savings or having a little extra money in your checking account at the end of the month tempt you. You’ll love watching your money grow rather than getting nervous every time a payment comes due.