For those in their 30s, strong habits of save money are especially important, as this is the time when many people find their professional footing and make major life decisions that come with additional expenditures, such as getting married, starting a family and buying property.

Even when you’re finding ways to pay new expenses such as a mortgage or paying down student loans, it’s still essential to include a saving plan in your budget—the more years you spend adding to your nest egg, the better off you’ll be.

Investing early makes such a large difference over time. Everyone says it, but few actually practice putting some money away in investments and saving every month. The smallest amounts, invested regularly over many years, can make a big difference down the road.

Here are 5 ways to save money in your 30s to build a comfortable saving foundation in this critical period of adult life

Save Money

Set Up A Budget

There is no perfect time for saving money or getting better at finances, but it’s always a good time to start budgeting and allocating where your money goes and what you need to cut back on. People in their 30s should start thinking about creating total savings and budgeting plans, as well as looking into investment options that can bring more long-term revenue to their pockets.

Save Before You Spend

In order to achieve your savings goal, you have to build that habit first. The best plan is to save money before you spend, whether through your own system. Start with saving 1% of your income, and slowly increase the amount you save until you reach your savings percentage goal. This takes the sting out of losing income and builds the habit of saving.

Think of savings in increments of one year, five years, ten years and “someday.” Your “someday” is your retirement money. The cash you need in case of emergency is your one-year. Your five- and ten-year savings goals are more significant investments, such as buying real estate. Write down your saving goals and post them where you can see them. You’re more likely to stay on track if you’re reminded of why you’re saving.

Create A ‘Break-Out Plan’

If you’re unmarried and live near your parents, consider a three- to four-year “break-out plan.” Live with mom and dad while earning the highest paycheck possible. Pay off student loans. Save money for a down payment on a house. Drive a cheap car. This strategy could allow you to enter your 40s with no debt and real peace of mind about the future.

Pay Yourself First

This is the kind of personal finance advice your parents may have given you, and you’ve probably seen it mentioned in other places, too. It’s one of those things that seems too simple to be effective. The reality is that it’s one of the most effective ways to save money.

Here’s how it works: every month before you pay any other bills, put some money in savings. That’s before you buy groceries, pay your mortgage, and even before you make your student loan payment. It’s like skimming a little money off the top. Instead of waiting until the end of the month to save what’s leftover, you save money first.

The magic of paying yourself first, and why it’s such a good habit to build is because it teaches you that your financial future is the most important thing. It allows you to build wealth so that you’re better prepared for emergencies, able to save money up for retirement, and ready to reach your future financial goals.

Set 90-Day Goals

We are big fan of 90-day goals. Envision what you want or need, write it down and track it. Keep your eyes on your goals by writing them down, tracking progress and being united in your commitment to the outcome—it works!

Start Small

Start with small, consistent contributions at the beginning, and slowly build that contribution as your income increases throughout your career. The key to saving is that you have to start somewhere. Look into employer-matched savings accounts, retirement accounts and health savings accounts first. Make saving something that is automatic each month, not something you have to think about.

Live Below Your Means

Live below your means if possible. Do not get pressured into following the latest trends and driving a late-model vehicle. Go on hikes, or go to a beach, lake or river to enjoy life experiences without spending a lot. You will likely be earning more in your 30s than your 20s, so watch for lifestyle creep. Have very few wants, and maintain a personal budget. Focus on saving and investments if possible.