Kara McGuire
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Here are Kelsey Malecha's Five Tips to Financial Smarts, which she's been sharing with Minnesota students as Miss Midwest-Minnesota. Malecha competes against 15 other contestants in the Miss Minnesota pageant on June 13 and 14. Learn more about Kelsey and her platform at www.understandingfinances.com.

1. Debt can be generational.

If families are in debt, it's hard to teach someone to get out of debt. That's why I think having an educational program instilled in our schools is so important.

2. Spending is often emotional.

Everyone "needs" an iPod, even if they can't afford it. They want something so they will feel good about themselves. If we would look at spending in a more logical sense, people would be better off.

3. There is no quick fix.

For example, the economic stimulus checks. I think the government may have seen this as a quick fix, but the only fix is education.

4. Prioritize your spending habits.

When I go into classrooms I bring the Money Savvy Pig, a bank with compartments to spend, save, donate and invest.

5. You have to believe that debt can be reversed.

People just have to know that there's no situation without hope. Make a conscious decision, even if it's only to start paying off debt by $10 or $15 a month.