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After spending your college years eating cheap pizza and living off a meal plan, you finally have a good job and money in your bank account, and it can be tempting to want to spend it all. However, neglecting to have a good financial plan in place could hurt you years down the road when you want to purchase a home or have a fulfilling retirement. It’s never too early to think about your financial future, and it starts with making the right money moves early on.

Budgeting

The first step towards having healthy finances is to set up a meaningful budget. Creating a budget is essential because it can help steer you in the right direction financially and ensure your money is put to good use. Allocate a portion of each paycheck to go towards your monthly bills such as student loans, rent, utilities, and food. You also need to be realistic and know that it’s okay to have a little fun with your money guilt-free, and should set aside a small portion of your paycheck to treat yourself.

Savings

When you set up your budget, you should also plan to set aside a portion of your paycheck to go into a savings account. Having an emergency savings can come in handy if something comes up such as an unexpected car repair, job loss, or medical expenses. If you have a difficult time saving money, automate a portion of your paycheck to savings so you don’t have to think about it. After a while, you won’t even miss the money being taken from your paycheck.

Put Away for Retirement

You should also allocate a portion of your salary to go into a retirement account. There are different accounts such as 401ks, Roth IRAs and 403bs that you can use to hold your retirement funds. Talk to a financial advisor to see which is best for you. If your employer offers a company match, you should take advantage of it or you’re essentially throwing away free money.

Be Smart with Credit

Whether you’re interested in furnishing your apartment, paying for nights out, or taking a vacation with your friends, credit cards give you immediate access to things you want and let you worry about paying later. However, many credit cards carry high interest rates which may not make those purchases worth it. Save your credit cards for emergencies only and try to only make purchases you can pay off right away.

Purchase Quality Insurance

Having quality insurance can give you peace of mind knowing that if something happens, you and your loved ones are covered. You should invest in good quality health, life, and car insurance while you’re young and premiums are more reasonable. After you’ve purchased insurance, remember to do a yearly check-in with your insurance company to see if the coverage still meets your needs or if you need to make any adjustments.

Create Goals

Everyone has different life and financial goals, so decide what yours are and create a plan to make it happen. Perhaps you want to pay off all your student loan, credit card, and other debt before you’re 30. Maybe you want to have enough money put away in your 401k that you can retire when you’re 60. Perhaps you have more short-term goals, such as saving for a vacation, new car, or home. Whatever financial goals you want to achieve, they won’t happen without a plan in place to guide you, so determine what you want and get started as soon as possible.

If you ever feel overwhelmed, just take a step back or speak to an advisor to help you stay on track towards your goals. The sooner you make these money moves, the easier things will be for you financially later in life.

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