The holidays are officially upon us! There are so many fun things to focus on this time of year – from holiday parties, spending time with friends and family, wrapping up a bit of work so you can maybe take a few days off to celebrate, and for most of us – shopping. I can’t help it, as a bookkeeper, my mind turns to strategies that will help you save money during the holidays. Even though Black Friday and Cyber Monday are behind us, there are plenty of ways to keep your personal and business expenses down while keeping your holiday spirits up. Here are some of my faves:

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  1. Maybe it feels obvious to start here, but BUDGET! Write down a number that you feel comfortable spending and then break it into categories. Potential expenses include: gifts & wrapping, holiday cards & postage, decorations, travel, and a holiday party if you’re hosting. Do the same for your business and include client or vendor gifts or cards and holiday networking events. Once you set your budget, stick to it.
  2. Shop when stores aren’t so busy. Consider going early in the morning or about an hour before they close. Sometimes when you go on the weekend when things are really bustling, it can be harder to stick to a list or consider your options. Grab yourself a cup of coffee and take your time. I know there’s a million things to do, but if you have time to thoroughly consider purchases before making them, you’ll make more confident choices that make sense with your budget. You can also shop ahead online and pick up orders in stores at big retailers like Target and Walmart.
  3. Sign up for your favorite e-tailers newsletters. They’ll definitely notify you of new sales and coupon codes. Don’t, however, be tempted to buy something just because “it’s a good deal”. That will cut into your budget and make it harder to purchase the things you really need without going overboard.
  4. Consider some sentimental, handcrafted gifts. If you’re not crafty or you simply don’t have time, a thoughtful card and affordable bottle of wine or nice box of chocolates can fulfill the need to give a gift without spending a ton.
  5. Cut back elsewhere. If you typically go out to eat a couple times of week, try to reduce this. There are so many treats during the holiday, having some home cooked meals probably feels like a relief anyway. If you’re planning to send client or vendor gifts or cards, consider skipping a coffee meeting and meet somewhere where you won’t have to shell out.

I hope these 5 tips get you thinking about your holiday game plan, and help you focus on the real reason for the season. Enjoy celebrating with your friends and family, stay warm, and share the love!