Just do it! Here’s how you can start saving for a home today

So you dream of one day buying a home to fill with mini-yous and perhaps a golden retriever named Sam. When that day arrives, you’ll need to be ready – which means having enough savings to make a down payment without draining your bank account.

Even if you aren’t sure when you’ll be ready to take the leap into homeownership, it’s never too early to start saving. Here are a few ways you can get started today.

1. Forget bitcoin, invest in yourself

Investing is an incredibly useful tool when saving for your first home. Hold on, don’t go converting your paycheck to dogecoin just yet – we didn’t mean that kind of investing.

It might seem like everyone from your little brother to your fourth grade history teacher is bragging about how much money they’ve made on cryptocurrencies. But the reality is that these types of investments are extremely risky for the average investor. As a rule of thumb, you should never put more into them than you can afford to lose. Unless your name is Dave Portnoy, that probably doesn’t include the money you were planning to use for a down payment.

Instead of going YOLO on Robinhood, try setting up automatic monthly deposits into an FDIC-insured savings account earmarked specifically for a down payment. These accounts offer steady interest earnings and federal protection on up to $250,000, meaning you won’t lose your money even if the bank goes under. Once you’re ready to make an offer on your dream home, the funds for the down payment will be ready and waiting for you.

Think about it as an investment in yourself and your future home – one that could eventually fetch you up to 10% per year in returns. If you have a few dollars left over once you’ve hit your home savings goals and met all your other financial obligations, then you can think about playing around with stocks and cryptocurrencies.

2. Keep your home savings fund separate

You’ll never keep track of how much you’ve saved for a home if it’s clunking around in the same bank account as the rest of your money. Give your future down payment its own account, separate from other types of savings such as your emergency fund or travel piggy bank.

Once you’ve set up a dedicated home savings fund, try not to touch it unless absolutely necessary. Sure, sometimes life happens and unforeseen expenses come up. Just be honest with yourself about what does and doesn’t constitute a legitimate need. Life-saving surgery for your cat, for example, is a perfectly valid reason to dip into whatever savings you have. Hiring a tap dancing llama for your birthday party… well, that can probably wait.

3. Set a reasonable goal

It may take months or years to save up for a home, but setting a goal can be done in minutes. Take a look at your finances and decide how much you can set aside every month, whether that’s $100 or $1,000. Whatever goal you choose, make sure it’s ambitious but achievable – and remember that every little bit helps.

If you’re not sure what goal to aim for, try another method: take the total amount you need to save (the average homebuyer puts down around 6%) and divide it by the number of months until your target purchase date. For example, if you know you need around $12,000 for a down payment and you’d like to buy a home in two years, you’ll need to save at least $500 every month. If that’s too high, you may need to extend your timeline or readjust your purchase price expectations.

4. Hold yourself accountable

As you’re setting up your home savings plan, don’t forget to create ways to keep yourself motivated. Here are a few ideas:

• Track your progress in whatever way feels most natural to you, whether it’s a spreadsheet on your laptop or a marker-drawn thermometer stuck to the refrigerator
• Set reminders in your phone calendar for major milestones you’d like to hit
• Share your goals with family and friendsPut a photo of your dream home somewhere you can see it every day, like at your desk or as your computer background

5. Download Gravy

The Gravy app is free to download and comes with built-in tools to help you through every step of saving for your first home. Use the app to set a savings goal or calculate how much you should have before you start house shopping. Plus, you’ll earn cash back every month you pay your rent in the meantime.

Keep reading: How much home can you afford? Find out here