If you wish to grow your savings over time, there are certain practices and habits with which you should familiarize yourself. Saving for the future does not have to be baffling or mystifying if you follow these best practices that are safe and time-tested. Once you learn about these techniques and implement them, you’ll know that you’re on your way toward retirement someday, a home of your own, or whatever other goals you envision at the end of the road.

Direct Deposit

Perhaps you’re a person who is tempted to use all of your paycheck as soon as you get it. If that’s the case, setting up a system of direct deposit into your savings account might be a suitable option for you. That way, you can take out whatever money you feel that you need for crucial expenses, and you can leave the rest. This is a savings-minded alternative to cashing your entire check from your job as soon as you get it. If you do that, it is less likely any of the money will find its way into your savings account.

401K

A 401K option at work is another way that you can save money, and your job even helps you out with it. As an incentive, many places of employment will match up to a certain amount of what you put away. That’s free money, so you’d be foolish not to take advantage of it. The money that you put into your 401K is not to be touched until you reach a particular age, 59 ½ being the most common. If you try to take any of it out before then, you must pay a cash penalty. Because of that, you should be able to keep your hands off it until the appropriate time.

Self-Directed IRA

An IRA can be thought of as a version of a 401K that you set up yourself without the involvement of an employer. Although there isn’t anyone to match the funds you put in, you’re still putting that money away where it will accumulate interest, and there are penalties for you touching it. The term self directed IRA refers to an individual retirement account that gives you full control over your investment choices. Unlike with other IRAs, you’re not limited to mutual funds, bonds, or stocks. You may wish to consider going this route.

Invest in Bonds

If you want to invest in something that offers a steady rate of return, bonds are a less volatile option than stocks. While the value of stocks can fluctuate wildly depending on the whims of the market, bonds offer stability and a predictable, steady income stream. You’re not likely to see the high rate of return that you might if you pick a winning stock, but you know that you’re making money with your bonds, slowly but steadily.

Avoid Fees

If you have turned over your savings to an asset management firm or an individual who has lofty promises, you may wish to reconsider. You might not look at yourself as an investment genius, but with the proper research, you should be able to work up a diverse portfolio that is composed of safe, non-risky assets. This will save you the hefty fees that these investment mavens often demand.

Saving money isn’t as difficult as it might seem if you set up some common sense practices for yourself and start as early as you can. Even a little savings is better than none, and everyone has to start somewhere. In time you will reap the dividends from the sensible choices you have made.