You work to earn money to pay for necessities and to save for the future.

While it’s easy to spend your check on daily needs like utilities or entertainment, saving for your short- and long-term needs can be hard.

So how much should you save, and what should you be saving it for? While there is no single answer, experts suggest between 10% and 20% of your take-home pay. That means if you earn $40,000 a year, saving 20% would equal $8,000, or about $667 a month. 

And that savings should be for things like retirement, building an emergency fund and your discretionary needs.

To get started, you should set saving goals. Will you be buying a house, car or new appliances? What about a vacation or holiday gifts? And don’t forget retirement.

Think of it this way:

Retirement might seem a long ways off, but you’re going to need money when you quit working. If your employer offers a retirement plan like a 401(k) you should participate and contribute what you can, especially if they offer matching funds. This money is usually invested in things like mutual funds with the potential to grow over time.

An emergency fund is just what it sounds like – an account at your financial institution to cover you in case of an emergency such as a job loss or an unexpected expense. Experts suggest you have enough to see you through 3 to 6 months.

Discretionary savings would be for things like the down payment for a house or a vacation.

A financial advisor can help suggest ways to meet those three savings needs and can recommend a range of investments from interest-bearing checking or savings options to investments such as your work retirement plan or IRAs that earn money over time through investments.

Experts also suggest making your savings automatic, such as direct deposits from your paycheck and automatic funding for your work retirement plan. Automation makes savings a habit you won’t have to think about.

If saving isn’t part of your routine yet, talk with a financial professional about the best way to get started. You’ll be glad you did.