Financial goals are important. And in order to get to a desired end, we first have to imagine it. Have you thought about how you’d like your finances, your career, and your life to look in the next 20 years?

Spend time thinking about what success and financial security means to you and write out a plan. To get you started, we’ve scoured the internets and interviewed industry experts for the top financial goals every young professional should have:

Participate in a Retirement Plan

Whether your employer offers retirements, or you have to start your own through an investment company, it’s important that you start and start early. Even small contributions like $50 per paycheck can make a dent in this critical financial goal. Need to pay for an important milestone like buying a home? Some retirement accounts allow you to borrow from them or withdraw from them early.

Get Out of Debt

Obviously, the less debt you’re saddled down with the more money you have to invest and put towards retirement. Scott Wellens, the founder of Fortress Planning, explained to Forbes magazine that “people who have a lot of consumer debt and other loans do not have the cash flow to save in the first place. Debt-ridden individuals end up paying interest to the credit companies instead of earning interest on savings.” If you’re overwhelmed and not sure where to start, try the snowball method or avalanche method.

Have an Accountability Partner

Whether you are losing weight or quitting smoking, experts suggest using an accountability partner. Financial Planner Taylor Schulte suggests you apply this same accountability partner concept to your finances. Make a pact to help one another stay on track with financial goals and celebrate together when you meet them. This person could be a family member, friend, or mentor.

Go On A Cash Only Diet

Limiting your purchases exclusively to cash can really change your finances.  This can be a very aggressive way of paying down your debt. Unlike a credit card, when you run out of cash you, you are done spending.

Have Specific Financial Goals

Quantitative and specific financial goals are important. Instead of saying “I want to save” say “I want to save $5,000 in 6 months.”

Knowing the amount you need to pay off debt and the timeline in which you want to do it is incredibly helpful for your pockets and your brain. Sure, you will see the benefits of this on your credit report, but you will also feel a sense of accomplishment because you are achieving goals. Financial goals can also be designed to help you build your savings. Just like paying off your debt when you hit your savings number you will feel a sense of accomplishment.

Change Your Mindset

You are what you think. If you think you can never pay off your debt, guess what?  You’ll never pay off your debt.  The Muse suggests that you adopt positive financial mantras to set yourself up for success. Changing your mindset can help change your behavior.

Negotiate Your Pay

It’s your first job out of college and they offer you more money than you’ve ever seen. Most people’s gut reaction would be to take the money and run. Remember that you may be able to get more money or some additional perks if you negotiate. Things life benefits, titles, and time off can sometimes make up for a less than robust financial offer. Consider all of your options. Check out these Forbes tips on negotiating here.

Create a Freedom Fund

One of the best ways to quickly build your savings is to use a high-interest savings account. Call this your “freedom fund” and use it for emergencies, big purchases, or as a way out of a situation you’re looking to change.

When it comes to a great place to park your money, options abound.

CIT Bank currently has one of the highest interest rates on the market at 2.10%. BBVA also has a high-interest savings account currently at 1.9%. Be sure to review all of your options and open one today (before these rates go away) so you can start your freedom fund now.

Photography by David Yanutama