This Financial Expert Gives You Tips to Pay Off Your Debt

P.S. If you could invest a lump sum of $29,400 at 7 percent growth for 40 years, you'd end up with $440,249.06.

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Financial expert Elle Kaplan, CEO of LexION Capital Management, offers advice on avoiding your own fiscal cliff.

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AGE 22

Your Status: You're adjusting to independent adulthood just as you start having to fork over loan payments each month.

Your Action Plan: Take inventory of your loans and focus on those with the highest interest rates. Set up auto-transfers.

Your Budget: Track where your money goes. Learn the difference between needs and wants. Avoid credit cards at all costs.

AGE 28

Your Status: You've been promoted or moved on to your second job and want to take your finances to the next level.

Your Action Plan: Assess your progress and ask yourself: What changes can I make to generate extra income to put toward my debt?

Your Budget: Use the 50-20-30 plan: 50% of each paycheck goes to bills and needs, 20% to savings, and 30% to fun.

AGE 35

Your Status: You feel more financially free than a decade ago but are confronting a whole new set of goals and priorities.

Your Action Plan: Plan for the future. Ask yourself what you want in the next year, and in the next decade, and plan accordingly.

Your Budget: Cut back on lifestyle creep—are dinners that were once a treat now routine? See what you can eliminate.

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