If you get used to living paycheck to paycheck, it’s easy to stop thinking about long-term savings goals and the impact they can have on your life. When you change your financial thinking to the long-term, you set yourself up for future success. By creating a long-term plan, you’ll be on the path to financial goals like buying a house and saving for retirement, instead of reaching a point where you want to have those things and find your account empty.

Pay Off Your Debts
It’s hard to build wealth when you have large debt payments every month. Start with the accounts with the highest interest rates and move your way down. Once you stop losing money to interest every month, you’ll be in a much stronger financial situation for the long-term.

Build an Emergency Fund
This may sound like a short-term goal, but can actually greatly impact your chances of meeting long-term goals. When you have an emergency fund at the ready, you will always have that at hand to handle unexpected issues that arise. A flat tire? An emergency bill at the veterinary clinic? If you dip into your long-term savings every time these come up, you will never get ahead. Save a small emergency fund for these issues that come up first and then move on to your long-term goals.

Have A Plan
If you are going to get somewhere, you need to know where you’re going. Take the time to set a goal for how much you’ll need to have saved for your various long-term goals. For example, do you need a down payment saved for a house? When do you want that to happen? What about retirement? Write these goals down, set a date, and then work backward to create a plan for regular savings that can help you reach these goals.

Automate Your Savings
You don’t have to be thinking about your savings every day in order to save money in the long term. In fact, if it’s something you have to think about constantly, you’re less likely to do it because it’s too much work. Make your long term savings goals automatic. If your job offers a 401k, use it! At least up to the point where they match your investments. This will automatically remove money from your check and save it for you. If you don’t have a 401k, look into an IRA (independent retirement account) and set up automatic savings for this.

You can also use money-saving apps to automatically remove money from your checking account every month and play it into your savings. There are ones that will take a specific amount each month. There are others that will round up all of your purchases to save your spare change. Set up what works best for your current budget and revisit every six months to evaluate how it’s working for you.

Track What Happens With Your Spending
You don’t need to think about your savings every day, but you need to evaluate them frequently. Are you on track to meet your long-term goals? Look over your records and track your progress. Should you make adjustments to your budget? Are you spending too much on one area? Is there room for improvement? Set a date on your calendar, so you remember to reevaluate every six months.