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Finances and Relationships: How to Save Big While Having Fun Like Date Nights and Weekend Getaways

I’m partnering with BECU this year to focus on financial health and wellness, as well as giving you insight into my life and how I manage my finances and relationships. BECU is a member-owned credit union focused on helping increase the financial health of its members.

Last month, I gave you tips and recommendations on setting yourself up for success in 2019 - how to take advantage of the BECU First-Time Homebuyer Grant, budgeting strategies and ways to maximize your purchasing power when buying a home.

For the month of February, I’m going to share ways you can save big and still have fun date nights, birthdays and experiences. As a husband, father of a 19-month-old daughter and business owner, finding creative solutions to save money and time are critical for healthy relationships in the household.

Budgeting // Money Manager

The first thing we like to focus on when it comes to finances is proper budgeting. We review the previous month’s expenditures and calculate our outgoing expenses and incoming payments per category. We’ll go down our credit card statement and review line by line to ensure there are no surprises. An average spending month includes things like: diapers, wipes, toys, books, grocery store runs, eating out, shopping for clothes, random Amazon purchases, gas, mortgage, phone bill, and utilities. Historically, we would put spend categories into an Excel sheet and spend hours cranking out formulas and figuring out what percentage we spent in each category. Thankfully, BECU offers a convenient tool called Money Manager, which organizes your funds into categories like auto & transportation, bills & utilities, and business services, into a beautiful interactive infographic for us (see below). If you’d like to learn more about budgeting and other financial areas, you can take free seminars & webinars led by BECU experts.

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Savings Programs // Passport Card

Once you have a clear picture of where you stand financially, you can take advantage of member programs like Passport. BECU has a great partnership with Passport, which gives members access to thousands of local, regional and national discounts in one easy-to-use platform as well as member-exclusive discounts only found when logged into your Passport account. As a BECU member the yearly activation fee is waived.However, if you want to take advantage of the all-inclusive Passport that includes dining, you can do so at a discounted price of only $7 a month or $75 annually. I’ve used it before and it has big savings!

What’s great about Passport is the benefits span in a variety of categories and are generally things we normally spend money on each month. Plus, as a BECU member, it’s free.

Passport benefits cover a wide range of categories including:

  1. Travel (hotels, car rentals, cruises, tours and attractions)

  2. Entertainment (cinema, theme parks, museums, theaters, ballet shows, musicals)

  3. Wellness (gym fees, golf, yoga, fitness equipment and more)

  4. Autos/Vehicles (car purchases, repairs, oil changes, parts and tires)

  5. Electronics (computers, laptops, tablets, televisions)

  6. Childcare (day care, activities, schools, au pair services)

  7. Pet supplies and services (pet insurance, vets, grooming, training and daycare)

  8. Dining (discounts such as a second complimentary entree are optional and are available with an upgrade of $7/month or $75 a year. You’ll make up the difference pretty quickly)

Here is a list of some of my favorite restaurants that were recently on the Passport list:

  1. Grazie in Bellevue

  2. Wann Japanese Izakaya in Belltown

  3. Pogacha in Bellevue

  4. Champagne in Seattle

  5. Yarrow Bay Grill in Kirkland

  6. Ray’s Boathouse in Ballard

  7. Etta’s Seafood in Seattle

  8. Wild Ginger in Bellevue

  9. RN74 in Seattle

  10. Maslow’s by Farestart in Seattle

  11. 13 Coins in Seattle/Bellevue

  12. Lunchbox Laboratory in Seattle

  13. Hiring Steakhouse in Seattle

  14. Hokkaido Ramen Santouka in Bellevue

  15. Baron’s Xi’an Kitchen & Bar in Bellevue

Relationships // Save Big, Have Fun

Now that you’re familiar with Passport, you can incorporate that into your day to day life and save money on the things you normally do like eating out, traveling, and going out to the movies.

Managing finances and relationships can be a hard thing to do, especially when you have a child, so I’ve put together a list of fun things to do without breaking the bank with your significant other and/or family:

  1. Vacation Fund Checking Account: A great financial strategy to save up for vacations and date nights is to open a separate BECU checking account specifically for that. BECU offers no monthly maintenance fees, and no minimum balance, plus you may earn 4.07% APY on the first $500, and a standard rate of 0.10% APY on balances over $500, with Member Advantage. Contact BECU directly for the most current annual percentage yield. That type of rate doesn’t typically exist anymore and is crazy good.

  2. Weekend Getaway: Find a place you and your significant other love and take advantage of all the travel perks with Passport. This includes hotels, car rentals, cruises, tours and attractions. 

  3. Dinner for 2: Get a babysitter and use Passport to go out to dinner and find a restaurant that has a buy 1, get 1 free benefit. I’ve used this before and it works like a charm.

  4. Matinee Movie: A great way to save money on movies is by going in the mornings or early afternoon, before 4:45PM. You’ll save about $4-5 per ticket by going earlier.

  5. Happy Hour: Take advantage of 50% off appetizers and dishes by going to restaurants during happy hour.

  6. Museums: Did you know that if you have a Seattle King County library card, you can get free museum passes through their website. Passport also has listed museums you can experience.

  7. Birthdays: Most of my friends and family members love trying out new restaurants. Instead of a material birthday gift, treat them out to one of the spots on their list that offers a deal.

  8. Find Restaurants Where Kids Eat Free (or nearly free): We generally just share our food with our toddler, but as they get older, you can save big by finding restaurants where kids eat free!

    • Sand Point Grill: On Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays, two kids eat free from 5PM - 6:30PM with the purchase of one adult entree. Ages 12 and under.

    • La Fuente: Kids eat for $.99 with the purchase of an adult entree. Valid all day.

    • The Islander: On Sundays, receive one free kid’s meal with every full priced entree purchased.

    • Dickey’s Barbecue Pit: Kids eat free from the kid’s menu on Sundays with a $10 purchase per adult. Ages 12 and under.

    • The Ram: Kids eat for $1 all day long with purchase of an adult entree.

    • Agave Cocina & Cantina: On Sundays, kids eat for just $2.99 all day.

    • Lucia: Italian Kitchen + Bar: Kids eat free on Sundays with the purchase of an adult entree. Ages 10 and under.

    • Big Fish Grill: Mondays, kids eat free with the purchase of an adult entree at regular price.

    • Herman’s Diner: Free kids meals on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Two kids eat free per each adult entree purchased.

    • Teddy’s Bigger Burgers: Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, receive a free kid’s comb meal with the purchase of two adult combo meals, 12 and under.

    • Wedgewood Alehouse & Cafe: On Mondays and Tuesdays, one kid eats free with the purchase of an adult or kid’s entree at regular price.

    • Zeeks Pizza: Kids eat free with the purchase of an adult meal. Ages 12 and under.

    • Farrell’s Pizza: On Mondays, kids eat free all day with a paying adults.

    • Whistle Stop Ale House: One kid age 12 and under eats free from 4PM - close with adult purchase.

    • Spring Kitchen Restaurant: Kids 10 and under eat free with a paying adult.

    • Wing Dome: On Tuesdays, receive one free kid’s meal for every adult entree purchased.

    • Serendipity Cafe: Kids eat free from 5PM - 8PM with purchase of an adult meal.

    • Lunchbox Laboratory: From 5PM - close, kids eat free with the purchase of an adult burger.

    • Zippy’s Giant Burgers: Kids get a free Zippy the Yum Yum Burger Boy’s Wacky Meal during Wednesday Happy Hour from 3PM - 6PM, with purchase of a regular burger.

    • Blue Star Cafe & Pub: Kids eat free from the kid’s menu from 5PM - 7PM.

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How to Sign Up for Passport:

It's easy to get started. All you need is your email address that's on file with BECU.

Access your discounts:

  1. Email discounts@becu.org to get your activation code

  2. Visit becu.passportcorporate.com

  3. Click the blue register here button

  4. Enter the email associated with your BECU account

  5. Enter the activation code on the email response you received in step 1

  6. Complete your profile

  7. Set your communication preferences

  8. Review the Privacy Policy and Terms of Use

  9. Click submit

That's it! Browse the categories to start saving. For additional answers to frequently asked questions, click here.

THIS POST IS SPONSORED BY BECU. ALL OPINIONS ARE MY OWN.