Planning for macro-economic stability is in the hands of bankers and politicians, but micro-economic planning is the realm of the individual and the aggregate of a whole population of individual planning is the foundation of prosperity. The grand maxim of economics is frugality. Nobody needs 50 pairs of shoes. Nobody needs to spend $300 a month on a fitness center when walking is free. If your car is running fine there is no justification to buy a new one. If your house has more bedrooms than people to sleep in them, move to a smaller house. Ten percent of your income should be put aside every payday for future unforeseen events. These are all elementary notions, but people have been so brainwashed by advertising that they have lost all sense of rational spending and have run amok.
With the ecological problems presented in recent times, it is no longer possible for people to commute 50 miles each way to work. When gas was cheap people were mobile and could live practically anywhere. With sub-divisions, gated communities, rural outposts, etc, there is no plan B as far as transportation is concerned, you drive a car or you walk. Retired people with direct deposit and on-line bill paying and sons and daughters nearby who can give them a ride to town once a week for supplies do fine in these circumstances. For working people, however, the high cost of maintaining a vehicle, road rage and the stress engendered make living in town a lot more sensible. Many towns and cities have become people-friendly in recent years. People can live and work in the same place.
Finding the right job is essential and preparing for it should begin in childhood. The whole process of grade school and high school is to present a panorama of possibilities from which the student chooses that field which best matches his proclivities. After 14 years of school a person should have a good idea of what he would like to do with his life. If his chosen career has a prerequisite of college, there are many alternative methods of earning a degree, including credit by exam, community colleges, off-shore institutions, etc. There is no need to go into debt for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Health care in the US is a nightmare. It is the biggest cause of bankruptcy. Other industrialized nations have universal free health care, and their economies are doing just fine. Prevention is the best way to elude the American medical monster. Eating right, avoiding excessive alcohol, quitting smoking, getting adequate exercise and avoiding stress can significantly ward off disease.
In conclusion, it's axiomatic that you can only take out of a bucket what you put into it. Economics is simply setting priorities and living within your means. There's no magic to it, just common sense.