Cultivating good financial habits is essential to achieving your goals in life. Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer, adding a second home, or working toward another major purchase, creating a plan and sticking to it will help you reach the finish line. Here are just a few tips to get you started in maintaining strong habits that will see you through any phase of your financial journey.

Basic Budgeting

It sounds simple but learning to create a budget is the cornerstone of any financial plan. Add together the total of all your monthly expenses in an itemized list and use this to see where you can afford to make cuts. A few small sacrifices each month can grow into major gains toward your greater financial goals.

Know the Score

When was the last time you checked your credit score? A strong score will be necessary to secure any major loan, but to improve your rating you first must know where you stand. Many banking apps provide your credit score free of charge, and there are a number of websites that offer similar services. Get an up-to-date picture of your credit and begin taking steps to improve or maintain your score.

Cut the Card

Credit cards can be a valuable aid to help build credit, but they can also introduce temptation to overspend. Use cash for purchases whenever possible and save credit cards for manageable purchases and rare emergencies. With the high interest rates offered by most cards, that random spending spree just isn’t worth it.

Plan for the Future

Having a goal in mind for a given timeframe will help you stay accountable to your financial plan. Set goals for five, ten, or 15 years in the future and take the small steps needed to reach them. Saving with a specific number in mind will keep you on track for bigger things in the future.

Plan for Emergencies

Having money on hand for emergencies will also keep your finances moving in the right direction. In addition to traditional savings, set aside some money each month for unforeseen emergencies. Plan ahead now and keep an unfortunate circumstance in the future from wiping out your financial progress.

Talk to a Planner

When you’ve spent some time working toward your goals, a financial planner might be able to assist you in taking the next step. Investments or other strategies could be the key to unlocking your future. Find a trusted financial planner to help guide you through your options.