Un-Broke: What You Need to Know About Money

Cedric the Entertainer suggests using cash instead of credit cards. It's quick and simple while credit cards, he said, are like a "needy" girl in a relationship, asking for money all the time. The average American family now has $10,000 in credit card debt.

"The credit card people didn't put you in debt, but they're happy you're there," he said. "You don't need all those cards. All you need is one."

Actor Seth Green warned about keeping mortgages in check. He said that the payments should never be more than one-third of your gross monthly income. To keep in this range, you might have to buy a smaller home.

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"I opted for a more modest crib that would help me to achieve my long-term financial goals," Green said, in a parody. He also has a fixed-rate mortgage with a 20 percent down payment that shrinks the risk of foreclosure if his house declines in value.

Within the house there are money-saving moves, too. For instance, he pretends to have just a 27-inch television and couch from Craigslist. Energy-star compliant appliances in the kitchen help tame his electric bill.

Touring his bedroom, Green said he bought a house within his means, adequate insurance and a rainy-day fund in case he loses his job.

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"I feel financially secure. I'm worry-free. I sleep like a baby all night long," he said.

The biggest problem for many families is the lack of savings.

"Many people out there are living paycheck to paycheck. But there is one thing we know about this financial crisis, if there is one lesson that we've learned: everyone needs a safety net," Hobson said. "No one is immune from the rough patches that occur in life. Anyone could lose their job. Anyone could break their leg. That's why you need an emergency fund."

Grow Your Savings

Hobson recommends having three to six months in living expenses saved. That's a lot for many people, so she suggests starting by saving $1 a day for four months, then up the ante to $2 a day, then really push yourself and try to save $5 a day.

"In my experience, savings is addictive," Hobson said.

The e-Trade babies, featured in the brokerage commercials, and singers the Jonas Brothers help Hobson review what stocks and bonds are and sort out the Dow, NASDAQ and S&P 500.

No matter what, though, Hobson suggests keeping a long-term view of the market. "There's no such thing as getting rich quick when investing," she said.

Hobson tells the Muppets' Oscar the Grouch that when stocks are down, it's a good time to buy for your retirement.

"You don't want to live in a trash can for the rest of your life, do you?" she said.

"Someday I want own my own Dumpster," Oscar tells her.

If you don't have stocks in your portfolio, it's harder to reach that goal. Individual stocks sometimes go down but over the long term, the stock market has outperformed everything else.

"The biggest risk is not taking one," Hobson said.

Actors Christian Slater and Rosario Dawson chime in on 401(k)s, saying that over no 20-year period has the market gone down. Many companies match some of their workers' contributions, which is like "free money."

"Just like getting a raise for signing up," Slater said.

Actor Samuel L. Jackson, in a parody of the 1976 film "Network," tells the country that you must live within your means.

"I'm broke as hell," Jackson said, "and I'm not going to take it anymore."

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