We’ve all undoubtedly been preached to about the importance of investing now for a brighter future ahead. Although we often say we’ll “get to it next year,” the truth is that we’re running out of time day by day.

If you’re one of the few millennials who has your entire financial future mapped out, congrats! Keep up the awesome work. If you’re like most of us who still need to figure out where and how to invest money for later in life, keep reading.

Once you’ve paid off your debts and h­­­­­ave established an emergency fund for car repairs and other unexpected monetary demands, it’s time to start investing your money in new ways to make the most out of your youth. Here are five of the most simple and effective ways you can start investing as a millennial to build a better life for your future self.­­­­

1. Short term investments

Short term investments are best described as assets that are expected to expire within one to three years. For the most part, they consist of stocks and bonds that can be liquidated quickly.

Some of the benefits of short term investments are that they offer flexibility, yield high returns, and often provide tangible results. This is why they are a fantastic option for millennials looking to break into the investment game.

There are many short term investment options including mutual funds, pooled mortgage funds, and trust deeds. If this sounds like a solid option for you, you can get started by comparing your best short term investment options.

2. Retirement funds

This is probably one of the most common investments your friends, coworkers, and family will preach to you about. The unfortunate truth is that their preaching is for good reason.

Our generation’s retirement security is looking pretty bleak, which means it will be necessary for us to start saving more and earlier in our lives.

Most young professionals start out their retirement savings with a 401K. This is because most companies offer 401k benefits to their employees which makes it a bit easier to get started. There are, of course, additional ways to expand your retirement savings from there. CNN Money offers up a solid guide that can help you get started.

3. Charitable contributions

This isn’t your typical investment, however, it can be just as important when tax season rolls around.

As you continue to grow in your career and raise your annual income, you’ll notice that your taxes get higher and higher as you move into higher tax brackets. This could mean that you would kiss your precious refund goodbye, or worse, end up owing!

A great way to offset increases in your taxes is to donate to charitable organizations. Start by finding one or two charities with causes that are important to you, then set up an ongoing donation. For example, I donate to the local homeless shelter and the ASPCA. Just these two ongoing contributions made a pretty significant impact on my taxes this year, despite moving into the next bracket.

On top of getting a tax break, donating to a charity will help you make a positive impact in your local community, which could help build a brighter future.

4. Real Estate

If you’re currently paying rent in a city where you know you’ll be living for at least the next two years, you may be throwing your money away. Depending on the housing market of the city where you live, purchasing a home could actually end up costing the same or less than renting. The only catch is making sure you’ve saved the necessary funds for your down payment. While you wait to get your down payment in place, do your research to find out more about the process of purchasing your first home. Money Under 30 offers an excellent guide with tips for first time home buyers.

Once you’ve got your down payment ready to go, work with a lender to get preapproved to get your budget in place. If you’re working with a realtor, he or she will usually have a preferred lender.

5. Ongoing education

Investing in your skills and education now will pay off big time in the future as you compete for promotions or seek out roles with higher earning potential. If you’ve got the time, try taking a course or two at your local college or university. Chances are, there is a skill in or closely related to your field that could help make you a more valuable professional later on.

For example, if you’re a graphic designer, taking a course on development could help you market yourself for raises/promotions in your current position and give you more to negotiate with when you look for new positions at larger companies later on.

Although the notion that our futures may not be as secure as they should be can be a bit terrifying, preparing for the future now can and will land you in a comfortable position later on. Hopefully these investment tips will help you as you begin investing in your future!