While being financially responsible does not sound particularly fun, it can save you money in the future. Falling into debt can be enormously stressful and can even lead to bankruptcy. To make sure that you remain financially safe, follow these steps for a happier, more mature financial life.

Focus on Saving

Nearly half of Americans do not have $400 saved to cover a financial emergency. In a perfect world, you would be able to plan for a car repair or medical bill, but unfortunately, this is not always possible.

Saving money can ensure that you are financially secure no matter what happens. You need to make sure that you have an emergency fund set aside to cover three to six months of your expenses. If you lose your job or need a home repair, this money will help you avoid getting into debt.

The hard part of saving is actually doing it. Right now, you have to make a conscious decision each month to put some of your money aside for the future. Instead of having to consciously decide to save, make saving the default option.

You can even set up your paycheck or bank account to automatically save a portion of your income. Once this is set up, saving money will be done automatically without needing a decision on your part.

Insure Yourself Against the Future

Few people deliberately try to get into debt–in many cases, these debts happen unintentionally. An estimated half of bankruptcies are caused by medical debt. You cannot determine when or if you will fall ill, which is why you should invest in health insurance.

While insurance may cost you more now, it will prevent major medical debt in the future.

Other than health insurance, you may also need to look into homeowner’s insurance or life insurance. If you are the primary source of income for your family, your death could severely impact the family’s finances. You should also be investing in life insurance to help protect your family no matter what happens.

Make a Plan and a Budget

People who plan for the future are more likely to have more wealth later on than people who did not make a plan. If you want to have a stable financial future, you have to begin planning for it now.

You should have set goals for paying off debts and saving money. Being goal-oriented can help you take control of your financial life and accomplish more.

Once you have financial goals in mind, you have to plan out how you will actually achieve them. One easy way to achieve your goals is through a budget. Your budget helps to determine how much you save and spend every month.

If you do not currently have a budget, track your spending habit for a month to see where your money goes. Afterward, use this information to cut back expenses. With a budget, you can avoid spending money on unnecessary items and prevent yourself from getting into extra debt.

Your Lifestyle Should Cost Less Than Your Income

Over time, your income will naturally increase. Many families begin spending more as they make more money. This can end up leading to financial trouble if you are not saving any of your extra income.

Right now, you are already accustomed to your current income. If your income increases, you can save that money without denying yourself anything in your current lifestyle. Each raise is an opportunity to pay more onto your debt and save additional money.

Watch Out for Debt

Debt can end up hurting you in the long run. Buying a house might help you financially, but credit card debt is rarely a good thing. Instead of putting expenses on your credit card, save an emergency fund instead.

Your emergency fund will be there for you when the unexpected happens. For example, if you are injured on the job don’t just rely on social security disability benefits. You want to use your emergency fund for your household needs and other expenses. If you have to use your credit card, make sure that you pay it off in full at the end of each month to avoid any debt.

Plan for Your Retirement

When you’re in your 20s, you don’t think you have to worry about your retirement, but retirement will arrive much faster than you think. If you start saving now, your retirement account will have more time to accumulate interest.

You can set up automatic contributions to your retirement plan through your employer or through a Roth IRA. From preventing major debts–to planning for retirement, your current financial decisions can impact the next few decades of your life.

You Will Be Happy You Made the Changes

By learning how to be financially mature, you will acquire benefits for the present and beyond. The changes might seem impossible, but by following a few simple steps–you are headed to a stable place.

When situations keep popping up, you might think you’ll never gain financial stability. It might take you longer than you had originally anticipated, and that’s OK. It can be a longer process for everyone, but as long as you get there at some point you will be glad you followed through.

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