Saving money is one of those initially difficult yet deeply rewarding practices you should definitely incorporate into your life. It’s dangerously easy to get caught up in a pattern of spending that paycheck on all the unnecessary toys and glamorous trinkets that your heart desires. Many of us wait a large chunk of our lives before we’re actually able to rock the kind of income that affords us the ability to treat ourselves.

With that being said, moderation is key, and the easiest way to ensure you’re saving that money smart and efficiently is to lay out a foolproof roadmap. Well, fortunately, we’ve picked out the cream-of-the-crop when it comes to financial tips for millennials. Let’s take a look at them!

1. Establish a firm budget.

Working off of an airtight budget that remains impervious to the tempting whispers of your irrational mind’s many lavish desires is essential for actually saving money. You and so many of the rest of us fall prey to getting carried along by our short-sighted whims, and caving for the impulse purchases that our bank accounts never wanted to make in the first place. Hey, we’re only human after all. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you cave once in a blue moon.

However, as a general rule-of-thumb, you’ve got to stick to that budget almost all the time. From there, the financial experts of the world recommend that you use the 50-30-20 rule. This represents 50% of the take-home money going toward mandatory expenses, 30% on recreational expenses, and the last 20% going toward the bank and any investments you have in the works. So, a mandatory expense would be restocking on your crickets for your radical pet crested gecko. A recreational expense would be buying your crested gecko a bundle of expensive new toys that they’ll never actually play with. And then you’ve got that sweet last 20% that’s all about the investments, baby. Make enough investments and you might be able to buy your crested gecko its own house one day.

Speaking of investments, let’s touch on that next, and how it’ll help you stack those funds faster than ever before.

2. Invest as early as you can.

Millennials are all encouraged to invest some of their hard-earned dough as soon as they can. Literally, the earlier the better. This is because of a crazy cool thing called compound interest, which means that those investments you make in your early twenties could end up being far bigger later in life if you have the opportunity to pool them together with the money you’re already bringing in through your career.

It might not be fun to set aside your money at first, and have less to spend on those recreational temptations, but in the long-run, you’ll be able to do far more with all that money. You’ve just got to keep your eye focused on the long-game.

3. Watch your credit card expenses.

It’s criminally easy to fall into a habit of leaning on your handy-dandy credit card to cover those recreational expenses, instead of spending the money you’ve actually earned. Seriously, it can play games with your mind. You end up thinking that you have a whole lot more money than you actually do because you can conveniently turn a blind eye toward the expenses that are steadily zapping the funds from your credit card, piling on hefty amounts of interest charges, and ultimately jeopardizing the wellbeing of your credit score.

It’s very hard to save money when you’re busy trying to dig yourself out of a credit card hole that you naively dug. So, remain vigilant in your mission to not use that credit card unless your emergency fund has already dried up, and you have absolutely no other options. Your future self will give you a hug for sparing it all the emotional turmoil of navigating the rocky terrain of credit card debt land. Plus, you’ll have a far better credit score later in life, and be able to make the life-defining purchases like a house, car, and even getting certain jobs requires.

4. Monitor your expenses with a spreadsheet.

This particular tip for saving money pairs perfectly with working off of a firm budget. You need to take a scientific approach toward how much money you’re spending daily, weekly, and monthly. By heavily monitoring the amount of money you’re ultimately spending, you’ll be able to identify the ugly areas where you’re simply losing a lot of money for no good reason. Maybe you regularly drop a lot of money on drinks and pricey dinners at a restaurant in your neighborhood, and you ultimately come to learn that that very restaurant is what’s been holding you back from taking your savings to account to the next level.

Of course, you can still show support to your favorite restaurants and bars, just maybe not as often as you previously were. The surefire way to reach that point of clarity though is to persistently write those expenses down. You can easily do this with a Google Excel spreadsheet. You’ll be amazed at how effective this strategy is in streamlining your journey toward getting that savings account into the promised land. Maybe you’ve had a sneaky ongoing subscription that’s been eating away at your paycheck without you even realizing it. Well, no more!

5. Set savings goals.

While you might have a rock hard financial plan put in place, and a solid roadmap you believe will work for getting you to where you want to be in regards to your savings account, it doesn’t hurt to have some short-term savings goals. Just because you’re adamant about putting more money away, doesn’t mean that you can’t take an occasional well-deserved pit-stop along the way. Maybe there’s a new phone you’ve been dying to splurge on. Maybe you’ve been suffering through many a feverish night with maddening longing for the new Playstation. Who knows?

Point is, by putting in place a short-term plan that could span something like three months, you’ll have a beneficial financial goal, and a sweet morale boost waiting for you in the not so distant future. You’ve got to keep the mindset fresh and motivated with little gifts to yourself along the way. Otherwise, you run the risk of getting burned out, and recklessly spending chunks of that money that was hibernating in your savings account, on impulse purchases just for the intoxicating thrill of it.

We’ve covered some of the crucial stepping stones on your path toward the luscious land of a swollen savings account. It’ll take time, energy, and above all else a brutal honesty with yourself. If saving money was an easy thing to do, we’d all be walking around with a lot more money in our bank accounts. The reality is that it takes a smart financial plan. It takes passing up the short-sighted temptation and holding out for the long term rewards that come about through a hefty savings account.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t shell out some of that hard-earned cash every now and again for wonderful treats like a new pajama set or cozy throw blanket from Barefoot Dreams. It’s the holiday season, after all! Just write out your plan, stick to it, and watch those numbers slowly build in the accounts you want to see grow.