You want to save for early retirement or even just a rainy day, but where and how will you come up with the money? If your financial strategy includes winning the lottery or waiting for an inheritance from a wealthy relative, think again. By making a few changes and turning them into habits, you can start saving for your financial goals. Take a look at the lifestyle changes you can make that may help you save some serious cash in the long run.

Automate Your Savings

Whether you’re saving for retirement, a vacation or a down payment for a house, or even all three, automating your savings can help you put away cash so you can reach your financial goals even faster. If your employer offers direct deposit into multiple accounts, consider depositing a portion of every paycheck into a savings account. Lifehacker also points out that automatically designating a set portion of your paycheck means you’re less likely to “skimp” and save a smaller amount instead.

READ MORE: Colorful Murals Adorn Open Center For The Arts In Little Village

Pay Bills On Time

Since you’re trying to save money, make paying your bills on time a non-negotiable task. Paying your water bill a few days late may result in added fees (University of Wisconsin-Extension has a list of the potential ramifications of not paying bills). Paying late fees will only slow down your financial progress and take money away from your savings goals, so making on-time bill payment should be a priority. To stay on track, consider using automatic online bill payment systems, or write reminders on your calendar to pay bills before their due dates.

Review Your Credit Report

What does your credit report say about you? If you haven’t checked for a while, or even ever, consider getting in the habit of examining your credit report. According to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, consumers should check their credit reports at least once per year, as well as “before making a major purchase that may involve a loan” or applying to a new job. You’ll want to check out your report to ensure the report’s information is accurate. The organization notes on its website that the credit report may impact if you can even get approved for a loan, such as a mortgage for that new home you’ve been eyeing. CFPB also offers tips on how to repair your credit score.

Make Your Own Meals

You already know bringing your own lunch to work is cheaper than picking up a sandwich from your favorite deli. However, if your goal is to save some serious money, you won’t exactly make that much progress if you’re still ordering out or grabbing something to go the rest of the day. Instead, double down on your efforts to make more meals at home and have a repertoire of make-ahead meals at your fingertips to help curb the impulse to order delivery or stop by a favorite fast-food outlet. Don’t stop at just your own meals; for example, instead of meeting friends for brunch at a restaurant, invite everyone over for a potluck-style meal.

READ MORE: One Person Killed In Crash Near Illinois 390 In DuPage County

Maintain Items

From your car to household appliances, your home and even clothing, knowing how to maintain items you use every day can help items last longer and reduce the need to purchase replacements. Schedule routine maintenance for your vehicle, furnace and appliances according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, and be familiar with any warranties that may apply. Don’t forget your home, either. You should regularly take a look at your attic, basement and everything in between and look for any maintenance issues — this checklist from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development can get you started. In addition, learn how to maintain your snow boots, winter clothing and accessories like purses and sunglasses.

Take Care Of Your Health

Putting off a much-needed operation or an annual physical might lead to costly treatments down the road. As noted on U.S. News & World Report, keeping up with regular doctor’s appointments can help you in the long run. Remember to make and keep routine checkups, and use those appointments to discuss any new health concerns with your doctor or dentist.

Megan Horst-Hatch is a runner, reader, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in “-er.” She is also the president of Megan Writes, LLC. Her work can be found at

MORE NEWS: When Will Metra Add More Trains Back To Its Schedule? The Plan Is To Do It Gradually