How one woman learned to live within her means

When 42-year old Claire Kahn got married 15 years ago and opened up a hair salon with her husband, all was good. Business was booming. Cash flowed freely.

With her husband paying all the bills and managing the household finances, Kahn, of West Bloomfield, Mich., says anything she earned was considered 'fun' money. And she spent it -- and then some! -- as soon as it came in. "I went to concerts, bought Prada bags, $400 chairs, couches, makeup, lipstick, whatever I wanted," she says. "I spent thousands of dollars at the flea market every Sunday; it was excessive."

Fast forward five years. That's when circumstances changed. "I found myself divorced, alone with two kids and minimal child support -- about enough for Taco Bell," says Kahn.

Khan, who says she didn't even know how to balance a checkbook, and considered herself financially 'clueless,' knew the carefree lifestyle had to end and that she would have to become more financially accountable.

Here's her strategy, which she still adheres to today: