There’s really no way of knowing what the future may bring, but whatever it holds, we can say one thing with absolute certainty: you’re going to need money. Making sure your future is financially viable means that you need to start saving effectively. If you’ve already made and implemented a plan to save for the future, you’re well on your way toward increased financial security. However, if you haven’t yet begun to put money away for the coming years, then the time to start is right now!

For a lot of people, saving can be a real challenge. Maybe you don’t feel like you have enough money on a monthly basis just to cover your expenses, maybe you’re in debt, or maybe you just don’t know how to begin to save your money and where to save it. Whatever your specific concern is, though, it’s crucial that you do what you can to face your challenge head on and get the ball rolling on saving. Whether you make more money than you currently need or you feel like you’re always trying to make it to the end of the month, there are things you can do to sock money away. Here are five ways to start saving now for a better future.

  1. Take a close look at your spending habits and set a savings goal.

Before you can start saving, it’s important to know how much is coming in and how much is going out. May seem simple and even a bit obvious, but seeing on paper exactly where your money is going each month is an extremely informative practice. Once you know how you’re spending, it’s time to identify places where you can cut back, such as monthly memberships that you don’t use, what you spend at restaurants, and how much you spend on your energy bill. Then, set a goal of how much you want to save each month. While some financial experts recommend saving 20% of your income, that’s not always feasible. In fact, if you’re currently just making enough to get by, it can be hard to fathom how you’d be able to save enough to buy a pizza next week. Still, if you can cut back a little each month and reframe it as paying yourself for the future, you may find some motivation to save. Finally, what are you saving for? A house? Retirement? Just a rainy-day fund? Figure out what you’re putting away money for, and give yourself a target to hit by coming up with a goal number.

  1. Go for an online savings account.

Traditional brick and mortar banks may still be all over the city in which you live, but many banking and financial businesses have moved online. Thanks to a lack of infrastructure to keep up and people to handle the money coming in and going out, online bank accounts are able to offer higher interest rates and fewer fees than traditional banking institutions. When you’re ready to open up a savings account, seriously consider an online account for these significant advantages. It may seem strange to not be able to walk into a bank and get your money out whenever you please, but online accounts still offer easy transfers, bill payment options, and other services that you get from a traditional bank. Be sure to shop around to get the best rate of return, and then you can let your money earn money while it waits for the future.

  1. Pay off your debt.

If you’re simultaneously using your income to pay off debts and save money, it’s extremely difficult to make any headway with either one. If you’ve got debt, wait to save until everything is paid off; pay as much as you can every month until your debts are gone, then close those accounts for good. Once your debts are paid off, you’ll be able to focus on saving, and you can use the income that you had been putting toward payments to actually pay yourself and save toward your goal.

  1. Invest wisely and carefully.

Savings accounts are wonderful for keeping your money secure and earning a little bit of interest along the way, but to earn a better rate of return, you’ll need to do some more serious investing. This could mean buying stocks, investment funds, or other investments. Before you commit to buying into anything, however, you’ll want to do your research. Look at the track record of whatever you’re considering to make sure it’s stable and has the amount of risk you can accept. Also look at things like investment periods, as some financial products tie up your money for a specific length of time. And of course, it’s crucial to remember that even though an investment may look like a sure thing, there are no guarantees. As the old business maxim goes, “Past performance is not an indicator of future success.”

  1. Get help if you need it.

The process of getting started with saving can be overwhelming, even to people who have enough money to save. There are tons of financial products available, all of which seem to promise stellar returns and minimal risk, but which ones are right for you? If you’re unsure, you’ll want to seek help from a competent financial advisor. Even if you’re not able to pay for the services of a professional, check organizations near you, such as libraries, service clubs, or even credit unions, for free seminars and sessions on how to get started with saving for the future.

Read more: