A piggy bank on a blue background.

Everyone wants to save money, but when the needs (and wants) of everyday life set in, saving can fall pretty low on the priority list. In fact, transferring money to our savings accounts is often the last thing we do every month (or every other month) when we notice an excess of cash.

But if you’re trying to figure out how to improve saving habits, mindfully putting aside money each month is the first step to achieving that goal. And as with any goal, it’s important to make sure you’re implementing the right strategies and habits for success.

Here are eight ways to grow your savings balance.

1. Budget for savings

Your budget is one of the best tools to help you save money, and it’s where you should start. Listing out your income and expenses — taking care to separate your needs from wants — will allow you to determine if there’s anything left over to save.

However, if you’re looking to save big, don’t settle for your monthly leftovers. Create a dedicated category/line item in your budget for savings. Treat it just like a spending category, but instead of using the money, pay it to yourself and save for the future.

Budgeting this way will help you save more consistently, and consistency will lead to a bigger balance, regardless of the dollar amount you put into your savings account each month.

2. Pay yourself first

Let’s say you’re going to budget a savings amount of $50 each month. Perfect.

As soon as your paycheck hits your bank account, transfer $50 immediately to your savings. This habit can help you prioritize saving so it’s first on the agenda. If you wait until the end of the month, you might not have anything left.

In fact, let’s take the possibility for human error out of the equation. If your paychecks deposit consistently on the same days, set up automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings account each month.

Doing this will help you automatically grow your savings account without any thought or effort on your part.

3. Save spare change

If you’re looking to start smaller than automatic transfers and budgeting — if you’re just not there yet in your savings journey — that’s okay. Smaller habits can still add up to big results. Let’s talk spare change.

Get a jar from the dollar store and place all your spare change or dollar bills in it. Do this for several months, and you’d be surprised how much is in that jar. To take it one step further, round up purchases you make and save the difference.

For example, if you go to Walmart and spend $17.13 on your debit card, you can round up the purchase to $20 and transfer $2.87 to savings. Some apps and programs like Acorns can help you do this automatically. Or if you paid with cash, pop that 87 cents into your jar!

4. Limit your shopping

Since we’re on the subject of making purchases, another easy way to learn how to improve saving habits is to simply shop less. If you shop fewer times, you’ll have fewer opportunities to spend money, which means you’re saving.

Here are a few ideas to cut back:

  • Lower the number of times you go grocery shopping each month. This can help you prevent impulse buys like chips and sodas that you don’t really need.
  • Limit yourself to getting household items like cleaning supplies on an as-needed basis (unless there’s a sale and buying multiples means a different kind of savings).
  • Consider purchasing clothing from thrift stores or secondhand shops. While they’re not brand-new items, they’re still new to you.

5. Use coupons and cash back offers

Using coupons more regularly is an easy savings habit to adopt — they can help you save on everyday purchases along with items for special events or holidays. You can use paper coupons, digital coupons and cash back offers on all kinds of products. You probably already know about our online gallery with printable coupons and cash back offers for all types of products, but check out our app as well to start saving on the go.

6. Skip certain brands

If you’re loyal to too many name brands, you may have a hard time saving on some of your purchases. If you only buy Tide laundry detergent, for example, you won’t be able to take advantage of a major sale on Gain.

Think about switching to generic brands or shopping around for sales regardless of which company manufactured the product. In most cases, the brand name doesn’t make much of a difference, so you might as well buy the more affordable item.

7. Polish your cooking skills

Learning how to cook a wider variety of foods can save you a lot of money. The average family spends hundreds on groceries and restaurant meals each month. Get a cookbook or watch a cooking YouTube channel and learn how to prepare easy and affordable meals.

When you buy ingredients instead of dining out or buying ready-made meals, you’ll save more money. To avoid cooking each night, you can also invest in a slow cooker and prepare meals in batches so you’ll have leftovers for a few days. This also helps you get more bang for your buck.

8. Have regular no-spending days

As the name implies, a no-spending day is when you refrain from any unnecessary spending. This allows you the opportunity to get creative and work with what you have — whether that means preparing a meal from whatever is in your pantry or finding a free event to attend.

Schedule a few no-spending days and make it a fun challenge. You can make a home-cooked meal, go for a walk or bike ride, play board games or work on a house project. Once you get comfortable with no-spending days, challenge yourself to a no-spending weekend or even a no-spending week. Whatever you don’t spend during those days can be transferred directly to your savings account.

Saving money doesn’t have to be difficult

Saving money doesn’t have to be hard when you work little tweaks into your daily routine. So, try a few of these habits and ideas to boost your savings.

Set a savings goal to keep you motivated, then consider automating your transfers, tinkering with your in-store purchasing and coupon efforts, and eventually challenging yourself to eliminate superfluous purchases altogether. Your future self will thank you.