Building wealth is not as easy as it sounds. It can take time, discipline and a plan to keep those dollars protected. However, if done correctly, it can provide security for your family for years to come.

No matter where you are in your personal financial journey, there are steps you can take to help build a financially secure future. Although your approach should be personalized to your specific situation, Freddie Mac suggests building your plan on three main pillars: accumulate, preserve, and protect what you’ve built.

Accumulate

The first, and one of the most challenging steps, is saving for your future while covering basic expenses. Establishing and working toward defined financial goals in the short-, medium- and long-term is a good place to start. Also, understanding your money mindset can help you identify opportunities to create healthier spending and saving habits.

Over time, it’s important for you to position yourself to take advantage of opportunities to raise your income. Consider discussing a raise with your current employer, taking a job opportunity with higher pay or starting a side business to supplement your income. You should also begin to build an emergency fund, which will better position you to weather unexpected financial emergencies. In general, you should save enough in this fund to cover three to six months of your typical monthly expenses.

In addition, if you are financially prepared for it, purchasing a home can help you build wealth in ways that renting cannot.

Preserve

Once you’ve begun to accumulate wealth, the next step is preserving it. You can accomplish this by protecting and growing your money over time.

Managing your debts and expenses is paramount. Pay down debts in high-interest accounts and prioritize other expenses that require immediate attention.

Your credit score is a critical part of this equation, and the time to improve it is right now. A strong credit score can help you receive a better interest rate and loan terms when working with lenders, as well as provide a host of other long-term benefits.

Protect

Lastly, you should have a plan in place to eventually transfer the wealth you’ve built to family and loved ones.

CNBC reports that an estimated $68 trillion will be passed down from the baby boomer generation between 2019 and 2044. Having an estate plan can give you peace of mind that your assets will be allocated according to your wishes when the time comes.

In the meantime, you should also protect your assets from the unexpected. In addition to taking steps to safeguard your property from natural disasters, you should invest in a comprehensive renter or homeowner insurance policy. And always be mindful of the wide variety of scammers and hackers looking to access your resources.

Education has power. As you begin your journey, you can build your financial savviness with Freddie Mac CreditSmart Essentials, a suite of free education tools and information covering topics like how to buy a home or car, how to improve credit and how to build wealth. To learn more, visit creditsmart.freddiemac.com.

Building wealth doesn’t happen overnight. With consistency and commitment, and the right knowledge and mindset, you can create a stable future for you and your loved ones.

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