Creating good saving habits doesn’t always happen overnight. It can take practice and willpower, especially when there are so many ways to spend your money out there. But these simple strategies can help you (or your kids) become a successful saver and reach your goals sooner.

Give me the main points

  • Learn how to budget, by working out your income and all your expenses in detail.
  • Figure out your savings goal and set up a savings plan.
  • Transfer a set amount to your savings account automatically so you can start creating a savings habit.
  • Think twice before you buy. A little ‘mindful consumption’ goes a long way.
  • Get organised. Plan your meals, compare the cost of services, and start taking your lunch to work.

Set up your savings plan

Get your budget going

Before you know how much you can afford to save, you need to figure out how much income you have coming in and how much you're spending, too. Right down to the smallest purchase.

This is where learning how to create a realistic budget really comes in handy. Check out Budgeting 101 and Budgeting 102 for some helpful hints to start a budget and stick to it.

Sort out what you're saving for

Now that your budget’s set, you'll know how much you can afford to put away each month. So what are you saving for exactly?

Having a goal in mind certainly makes it easier to stick to your budget and savings plan. Maybe you’re saving for something small or short term, like a holiday or presents. Or maybe you’re saving for something significant, like your first home?

No matter what your goal is, we have budgeting and savings tools to help you out. If you're registered for NAB Internet Banking, you can use the NAB Money Tracker to help you budget, set up a savings plan and track your progress. If not, our budget planner and savings plan calculator can still get you started.

Choose a savings account with bonus interest

The difference between your everyday ('transaction') account and a savings account is that a savings account usually offers a higher interest rate on the balance of your account.

So when you're selecting your savings account, check to see if it offers bonus interest. If it does, try not to make any withdrawals because this is usually one of the conditions of getting bonus interest. Check out our article The secrets of a successful saver to learn more about how bonus interest works.

Set up a direct credit

‘Out of sight, out of mind’ is a saying that really rings true when it comes to saving. This is why setting up a direct credit from your pay to your savings account each payday can be a big help with saving.

You can use internet banking to set up a weekly, fortnightly or monthly direct credit. It’s simple to sort out. Just nominate a day or date you want the money transferred so that it lines up with your payday. Of course, you’ll still need to check your balances regularly to make sure that there are enough funds to transfer.

Ask your folks for advice

Your parents and grandparents had to start saving at some stage, too. So why not learn from their experiences? They might’ve had to be thrifty or 'make do' to save up for their home or raise a family. And they could have some great tips to help you cut costs that you hadn’t even thought of.

Follow these saving habits

Save up those lump sums

Whether they’re work bonuses, tax returns or cash gifts, treat any unexpected windfalls or lump sums you might get during the year like forced savings. They can really add up in the long run.

Think before you buy

'Mindful consumption' is a good habit to get into. It's not just to help you save in the short term. It can also help you stick to a budget once you have larger financial responsibilities.

Avoiding temptation can be tricky (especially during sales time). But remember, just because something's on sale doesn't mean it's cheap. To help avoid impulse shopping, if you see something you like, walk away. Go and think about it, even if it’s just for an hour. Chances are you'll realise you really don't need it after all, or can do without it in the long run.

Sell unwanted goods

Cleaning out your cupboards and getting rid of things you don't use or need doesn’t just clear up your space it can even lead to some extra savings.

You could sell what you don’t want on Ebay or Gumtree. Or even try a good old-fashioned garage sale. If you haven’t done one before, there's a nationwide garage sale trail every October which might make things easier.

Cut back on the extra stuff

What can you really make do without? Trips to the movies? Eating out? Collecting comics or vintage ceramics? Remember, the short-term pain of giving up what you love will be worth it when you've saved for your first home deposit or that overseas trip you’ve been dreaming of.

And even if you feel like there are things you just can't do without, there are still ways to cut costs at least:

  • Compare shopping on sites like myshopping, shopbot and getprice.
  • See how things like gym memberships and insurances stack up online to find better deals.
  • Compare the cost of your gym membership with group personal training sessions.
  • Car pool – or leave the car at home altogether, and use public transport.
  • Reduce the amount of magazine subscriptions you may have and view online instead.

There are plenty more helpful tips in our article The secrets of a successful saver.

Get organised and creative

More often than not it's the smaller, everyday purchases that start eating into your budget. Do you buy your lunch and coffees every day? That could be as much as $100 a week you could save by bringing your own.

Get into the habit of creating your lunch and dinner menu each week when you do your shopping list. It’ll save you both time and money. You'll be more likely to take your lunch to work and be organised for dinner and less tempted to get take away.

Weekends can be trickier, especially if you like socialising. So get creative. Instead of going out for dinner, why not take turns with friends to host a casual dinner at home, or have a movie or games night with family or friends? Chances are you’ll have just as much fun.

Don’t kick your savings habit

Being a good budgeter and saver has plenty of advantages well beyond any short-term financial goals you might reach to begin with.

It can be the difference between keeping your head above water during difficult financial times and being in financial hardship. And it's also a wonderful habit to instil in your kids, so the next generation can have the same great opportunities you've had.

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