Thinking about the future may be a little scary, but it’s necessary to have at least a start on preparing for the coming years, especially if you have children or are thinking about making a big life change, such as starting a new business or going back to school. The good news is, there are many ways you can start planning for the future, and if you have close friends and family, they can help so you don’t have to go about it alone.

Start by writing down your ideas so you can brainstorm a little and toss around what will work and what won’t. Get some input from your friends and loved ones and do a little research on what considerations you’ll need to make that are specific to your family. After that, it’s simply a matter of thinking about all the contingencies that could come up down the road.

Here are some of the best tips on how to plan for the future.

Create a 5-year plan

No matter how old you are, it’s important to think about where you want to be in five years. Have you always dreamed of going back to school? Opening up your own business? Investing in real estate? Or do you want to start a family and buy a home? Write down your goals and figure out where you want to see yourself in the next few years, which can help you narrow down your next moves.

Start saving

No matter what your plans for the future are, they’ll likely require money. If you haven’t started saving yet, now is the time. Open up a savings account and make a promise to yourself that you won’t touch it. Put a dedicated amount of your paycheck into that account every payday, and look into starting a 401(k) if you don’t already have one. These retirement plans are pretty much essential, and the great thing about them is that your employer will contribute to it, as well.

Depending on what you want to save for, there may be resources for you and your family to access. For instance, if you want to save for your child’s college fund, consider looking for a 529 fund, which will provide you with tax incentives while you save.

Get some advice

If you have parents or grandparents nearby, ask their advice on how to plan well for the future. They will have likely already done it for themselves and will have some insight as to how to be successful and what to avoid.

Plan out a timeline

No matter what your plans are, you’re going to need a timeline to make achieving your goals easier. Think about the length of time it’s going to take to save and to implement your plans, and create a deadline if necessary.

Think about how to take care of your family

It’s not always easy to think about, but it’s necessary to ensure that your family will be taken care of after you’re gone. Give some thought to your last wishes, how you want to leave your estate, and who you want to take care of it all. Talk to your family members to see how they feel about it all and to get their input, especially on how to handle your estate (including life insurance).

It can be overwhelming to think about the future and everything that comes with it, but making sure your family is well taken care of is one of the most important things you can do. Plan well, do your research, and get some advice from your loved ones and you’ll be just fine.

Author: Jackie Waters