Money Matters: Holiday Shopping (Food and Gifts)

By RAYT721 Latest Reply 2010-11-15 18:21:46 -0600
Started 2010-11-14 10:17:50 -0600

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.,,, 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.

Looking for unique stocking stuffers? Check out the healthier low-carb product versions at and

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,, or

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,, or www. (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,, and 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 and, 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.

9 replies

RAYT721 2010-11-15 18:21:46 -0600 Report

I keep a running "Dear Santa" list in plain site as I think of things so that whether I am naughty or nice, Santa has a good idea of things that I would LIKE to have instead of the usual (or unusual) gifts that I get. Santa: hold off on the boxer briefs… put me down for TOYS!!!

jeffrey9127 2010-11-15 13:57:14 -0600 Report

rayt, This is really an incredible article. Besides your website references your gift ideas are pretty cool. Some of these sites I have never heard of. I will definitely be checking these out! Thanks Again.

realsis77 2010-11-15 12:43:05 -0600 Report

Wow ray that's an awsome article! Id like to print it but sadly I don't have a printer! I want to check into the christmas club! Every year I kick my self in the but for not beng able to save for christmas ! A little at a time through the year would surely add up! Such excellant information! Thanks ray

CaliKo 2010-11-15 09:46:34 -0600 Report

Excellent suggestions, Ray, thanks. I especially like the recipe collection idea. That might be just the thing for a couple of those gift exchange parties I always go to. Might be fun to see if anyone fights for my recipes! Ok, maybe I'm being optimistic, but I still have and use the index card recipe collection my college room mate gave me of her Mother's recipes. It was a priceless wedding gift.

GabbyPA 2010-11-15 09:38:46 -0600 Report

I didn't know that "christmas clubs" still existed. I just use a jar! LOL I like the black friday sites. What a great niche.

Another thing that we do here is use our local church food programs. We have one that sells packages for about 40% off the grocery store prices. All good quality foods, fresh fruits and veggies, nothing canned. So we order our packages for the Holiday months usually, as they really do help us extend our grocery bill that time of year. Just as an example, we purchased about 10 pounds of various meats, fresh fruit and veggies, and a whole turkey dinner with the fixings that will feed 4 people for $62. This will feed us all for about 2 weeks, so we are very thankful for those opportunities as well. So don't overlook your local and community programs.

RAYT721 2010-11-15 18:02:32 -0600 Report

Yup, we have a Christmas Club through our credit union. I would think there may be online accounts available now as more and more financial services are trying to build customer loyalty any way they can. Just make sure to check out any institution you are interested in. There are legitimate products and services out there and then there are scams. Anything sounding too good to be true probably is.

jayabee52 2010-11-14 14:16:46 -0600 Report

Thank you for putting that together for us RAY. Very useful!

RAYT721 2010-11-14 14:43:44 -0600 Report

There are times when I found myself shouting, pouting and even crying and I'll tell you why… Santa Claus has sometimes overspent or over thought the gifts. Sometimes the best things in life are free (or cheaper) and I've fallen victim to thinking that spending money and acquiring debt was the answer to showing love. How wrong I was!

This year my wife and I are going to buy each other a large screen tv which is a durable item for years of use. We are researching, comparing, looking for coupon codes, negotiating (but paying cash) for the "major" purchase.

I thought I would share our newly discovered techniques with friends (like you) and I would like to thank you for the feedback.

RAYT721 2010-11-14 10:30:44 -0600 Report

Another gift idea (to give or receive) that I forgot to mention above is a food scale. Think about things that you normally would not buy for yourself and be careful when buying items like clothing for another person. The best gifts are those in which you don't need to include the receipts. :)