The holidays are around the corner and I thought that I would write this article to offer some tips to the consumers on ways to save money, save time, and put more joy in the reason for the season. Holiday festivities are not limited to any one nationality or religion. Our holidays feature celebrations of Hanukkah, Kwanzaa as well as Christmas. There is no intention in this discussion to offend anyone. I would like to wish each member a happy holiday, regardless of which holiday is celebrated. Further I wish to apologize to anyone who may feel that Diabetic Connect is not an appropriate place for discussion of money and holidays. In my opinion, it's a perfect place because stress of finances and holidays can (and usually will) affect ones glucose levels, emotions, and energy.
The central key points of my discussion here are to plan ahead (menu, budget, gift lists) and planning to reduce costs with comparison shopping, discount codes and alternative merchants. I would also like to present some gift ideas that are more personal than gift cards or cash.
One of the ways that my wife and I plan ahead for holidays (ironically these dates are on the calendar every year at the same time yet many people don't even think about them until a few days or weeks before the events) is by using a holiday savings account, which are available at many banks or credit unions. With some plans you can save a little through the year instead of tapping the budget or feeding the credit card companies with more profits. We also make out our holiday gift and menu lists far in advance and begin purchasing non-perishable foods in advance. Since the dates won't change, why should the mood?
Did you know there are various online shopping assistant websites that will help you compare pricing on products among vendors? I will list a few here in no special order. www.mysimon.com, www.froogle.com, www.shopping.com, www.bottomdollar.com. If you enter a keyword or make/model of an item, you'll find significant price differences. Always, always check out unfamiliar merchants. The old saying that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Consider personalized items online or from places like Walgreens. One of the most creative gifts I ever gave was a personalized calendar with photos of our cats to their Mommy. Imagine how special a t shirt or other imprinted item would be received for those hard-to-buy-for recipients? (Note: order in advance. There are waiting times)
Think about making and sharing your own memory books or recipe books with family and friends if money is tight. The best gifts do not always have to cost a bundle of money. There are more treasures in your heart than in your wallets. Don't focus on what you can't do. Focus on what you can do. Even an IOU for quality time is priceless compared to a product or service you cannot afford.
Another suggestion is to check out the many online product review websites out there on the internet. Sometimes it is as easy as using google to rate products or merchants while other times you may wish to thoroughly research these factors on such websites as www.bizrate.com, www.cnet.com, or www.epinions.com.
Before making a final decision on an item, check out one or more of the various coupon code websites online. Such examples (and more are on google) include www.retailmenot.com, www.currentcodes.com, or www. couponcabin.com. (note: I have not checked out each of these personally)
Unless you have spent the past ten or more years in a cave you have probably heard of Ebay. I have successfully bought and sold many products through this well-known website auction business but there are other auction sites worth browsing for new (or rare) products. I have purchased items from www.ubid.com, www.overstock.com, and www.onsale.com. A search through google for "online auctions" will bring up other auction sites for you to investigate. Again my disclaimer to check out any unfamiliar sites and to remember the "too good to be true" words I shared above.
There are many Black Friday ads that have already been released to the media. (Trust me, the merchants want those leaked and shared). Such sites include www.theblackfriday.com and www.black-friday.net, to name a few. There will be far more shoppers out there than the loss leader advertised Black Friday specials. The game is to get you into their doors and grab your money before their competition.
When it comes to food shopping, many of the tips above will also apply: use coupons, shop sales, and plan ahead. The internet is loaded with recipe databases that can help give your holiday a boost of new and healthier recipes and a budget boost as well.
In closing, I would like to wish each of you a happy, healthy and safe holiday and I thank you for reading this article. Please feel free to share any sites or tips that you've discovered because this is not a complete list of what's out there. Sometimes a hug or kind words can be the best gift you can give to another.
It's okay to shop with your heart but important as well to use your head.
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