Have you ever told yourself that it was time to get serious about saving money only to find out that, well, it's a little harder than you thought? The fact is, learning how to save money is a skill, and yes, everyone can get better at it. So whether you're starting an emergency fund or just stashing some cash for a rainy day, learning how to save money is one of the most important steps you can take to achieve financial stability. Here are the first of 6 ways to help you get started.

Create a Budget.

Tracking exactly where and how you spend your money is a great first step in learning how to save money. First, make a list of your monthly sources of income. Next, make a list of your monthly expenses, including fixed expenses (mortgage payments, rent, utility bills, and the like) and variable expenses (groceries, entertainment, gasoline and so on). Once you've done that, some quick math will show you how much money you're either saving or losing per month. You can make adjustments to your variable expenses to help you increase your savings and meet your financial goals. There are a lot of great resources online that can help you create and manage your budget. A few places you might want to check out are Mint.com, BudgetSimple.com, and JustBudget.com.

Save at the Grocery Store.

If you're eating out less and shopping at the grocery store instead, you're already on your way. But there are still a few strategies you can use to maximize your savings. For example:

  • Buy generic products. They're usually just as good as brand-name products, and sell for a lower price.
  • Make a list of exactly what you need before you go shopping. Stick to the list, and you won't end up spending money on things you don't need.
  • Use coupons. Whether you're clipping coupons out of the newspaper or finding them online, always come armed with coupons and watch the savings add up.

Don't Pay ATM Fees.

ATM fees can have a seriously negative impact on your money. Many banks charge ATM fees if you access your funds through an ATM outside of their bank network, so with a few trips to an ATM, fees can become a problem for people looking to save money. But you don't have to get bogged down by ATM fees. Always plan ahead and make sure you have enough cash on hand before you go out. You might also consider opening an account with a bank that helps you avoid or minimize your ATM fees. With an Ally Bank Interest Checking Account, for example, you can use any Allpoint no-fee ATM—plus receive up to $10 reimbursement for fees charged at other ATMs nationwide each statement cycle.

Don't Give Up.

Like a lot of other life skills, the process of saving money can have a cumulative effect, with each tactic snowballing into the next until you're a true master at it. So read part two of this series for three more great ways to save money.

Whatever your savings goals, Ally Bank is here to help. Explore our savings products and more at Allybank.com or call live, 24/7 customer care at 877-247-ALLY (2559) today.

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