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With summer just behind us and Christmas right around the corner, this time of year leaves many families struggling to build their bank accounts. Make sure you are prepared for whatever expenses your family may encounter this year by following these simple tips for saving money.

Lose the old-fashioned bank account. Most of us grew up knowing that banks were a stronghold to keep money safe and earn interest as you go. Having money in savings is great, but it may not be enough anymore. Make your money work for you by investing in a low-risk certificate of deposit or money market account. The money market account usually yields higher interest rates, while a certificate of deposit, or CD, will have penalties for early withdrawal. That means you’ll be less likely to spend the money, and you’ll be earning a little extra interest at the same time. Call your bank for more information on which accounts are right for you.

Think Smart (Phone). Your smartphone may actually be one of your best resources when building, and sticking to, a budget. One example is, a free app and budgeting software that allows you to input your family finances and manage spending. The app does the rest, even tracking your spending habits and showing you exactly how much money you have to invest every month. Don’t waste your time with handwritten budgets that fall by the wayside. Mobile money management is the best way to analyze your finances, build a budget, and stick to it.

Watch Your Shopping. We’ve all read the finance articles on building a budget and starting a piggy bank, but how does that relate to you at 5:30 on a Saturday while you’re grocery shopping? Sometimes you have to get creative in order to stay on budget. For example, shopping on a Wednesday may save you money at the grocery store. Many chain stores do their markdowns midweek. This means that Wednesday shoppers will get first dibs on the best deals.

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