You have wants, and you have needs. You usually have two ways of paying for them – pull out the credit card or use the money you have set aside. Which would you prefer?

It’s a safe bet that most of us would choose to have a stash of cash to pay for everything from impulse purchases to long-term financial goals, but how do you save when there are bills to pay, and the paycheck only goes so far?

Saving your money isn’t always easy, especially when you don’t have a lot to spare. After paying all your usual expenses, there may be very little “fun” money at the end of the month. When we find ourselves with extra cash, like a tax refund, many of us rush out to buy those shoes or that electronic gadget we’ve been eying for months instead of putting it into our savings.

Thankfully, there’s a better way to be successful with savings. Here are 4 keys to savings success.

Save Now

Saving immediately will make you feel good. Have debt? Put a little aside anyway. Acquiring a savings habit as soon as possible is critical. By setting a little aside each month while aggressively paying down your obligations, you will graduate into being debt-free with a happy little nest egg in place. Plus, if you have an emergency, you won’t have to touch the credit cards and feel like you’re driving in reverse.

Set a SMART goal

All achievable goals share the same five factors:

  • Specific – describe your goal to the smallest details
  • Measurable – how much do you need to save?
  • Actionable – break it down into reasonable action steps
  • Realistic – could you achieve this goal in the given time?
  • Time-bound – what is the timeframe for the goal?

Put it Away

How much you have, your timeframe and personal risk tolerance will determine the best home for your money. A few accounts you may consider are:

  • Savings Account – Don’t have one? Get one. This is an excellent starter account. Interest and risk are low, and the minimum deposit is small. This is also an excellent account to teach your children to save with a Prime Share savings account. You can start with as little as $5.
  • Money Market Account – This savings account pays slightly better interest but may require a higher minimum balance.
  • Share Certificate – Generally, a six month to seven-year investment commitment, share certificates offer higher and fixed interest rates, but with a greater initial deposit and penalty for early withdrawal.

Save Automatically

If you wait and see what money you have leftover at the end of the month, you may find little to nothing. You typically have two options to save automatically:

  • Have a portion of your paycheck directly deposited into your savings account
  • Set up an automatic, monthly, or biweekly transfer from your checking account to your savings account. If you choose the second option, it is best to schedule this to coincide with your payday.

Psst: you can set up automatic transfers at the click of a button with Chartway Online Banking.

With careful planning, saving is the key to successfully managing your money and reaching your goals.