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Despite dreading the mini debt mountain that always accumulated each December, I also wasn’t sure what to do about it.

The one trick that saved our holiday budget

The holidays – oh, the holidays. While little kids are gearing up for the best day of the year, parents are wondering why is it that one 18” doll can be so expensive or how hybrid birds hatching out of eggs are even a thing.

It’s a financial gut-punch that my husband and I bemoaned every year:

Him – Ugh. How much money are we spending this year?
Me – How attached were you to using electricity?
Him – Not funny.
Me – You know, this happens every year. We really shouldn’t be surprised.

That last point made me think twice – Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa – the parties and gift giving have been ingrained in our culture for decades, even centuries. Why wasn’t I more prepared? Despite dreading the mini debt mountain that always accumulated each December, I also wasn’t sure what to do about it. Shop more sales? Make homemade gifts? Give less gifts? Nothing seemed to be the perfect solution.

That January, our daughter quit tumbling and we stopped paying $50 a month toward the local gym. Then it hit me: If the holidays happen every year, why not save for it every year? I swiftly opened a savings account, nicknamed it “Grinch Savings” and set up an automatic transfer for fifty bucks. I then promptly ignored the account, even forgetting about it until the following October, when the annual holiday moaning began. This year, however, something had changed:

Him – Ugh. How much money are we spending this year?
Me – Not a penny.
Him – What? How?
Me – I budgeted $50 every month into a savings account. We’ll have $600.
Him – Seriously? Cool! Um … any chance Santa can bring me Call of Duty?

Want more money-saving tips for the holidays and beyond? Check out articles, self-guided courses or sign up for a free webinar from BECU.

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