Having a healthy chunk of money in a savings account can put a smile on anyone’s face. That is because having a nest egg can offer an added layer of financial certainty for the future. The trouble is that many people don’t know the best way to save for their individual situation, and the vast number of financial products intended to help don’t always make it clear how to maximize your savings potential.

In order to help you understand when and how you should save money, Navy Federal compiled this list of “good-to-know” tips:

Tip #1: Know what your savings goal is. Saving for the sake of saving is admirable, but it helps to find what drives your saving: a child’s college tuition, retirement, etc. If there isn’t a defined goal associated with saving, you’re more likely to funnel money to immediate needs and wants.

Tip #2: Understand which financial products can help you achieve your goal. No matter what you want to achieve, there is a financial vehicle designed to help:

1. Saving for the basics: A general savings account is great because it doesn’t take much money to open—and although you may find higher returns with other financial products, many savings accounts have no service fee and can be withdrawn from at any time.

2. Saving for college: You may choose to take advantage of an Education Savings Account, which can grow tax free and allows anyone to make non-deductible contributions.

3. Saving for retirement: Individual Retirement Accounts come in all shapes and sizes and can provide a tax-friendly vehicle to growing money up to a yearly contribution limit.

4. Saving for a goal: Some savings accounts, such as SaveFirst, help you put money away for a specific goal (e.g., travel), while offering compounded dividends and letting you choose your own maturity date.

5. Saving by investing: Stocks, bonds and mutual funds can offer a range of low- to high-risk savings options—and can be as hands-on or hands-off as you decide based on your comfort level.

Tip #3: Put time on your side. While it may go without saying, much of saving depends on timing. As Tip #1 acknowledges, you don’t want to invest in a savings product that won’t yield returns as soon as you need or want. It’s also generally acknowledged that if you’re going to take financial risks, do it earlier on so you have more time to ride out the ups and downs.

Tip #4: Acknowledge when it may not be the right time to save. You may be thinking, “Did I read that right?” You did. There are certain times when saving may not be the most prudent choice for your financial future. For example, say you have an extra $10,000 you plan on putting into a savings account with a 0.25 percent interest rate. However, you also have $10,000 in credit card debt that charges a 15 percent interest rate. In this instance, it might be more financially sound to pay off your debt quickly.

Whether your savings are intended as a security net or to grow over time—or both!—your money can work harder for you if you use the right savings tools and strategies. Learn more about increasing your savings with a certificate or IRA from Navy Federal.