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The Gift Card of the Magi

Since Christmas is now an entire month behind us I have decided to finally clean up and put my Christmas gifts away.  I replaced old favorite sweaters with new favorite sweaters on my closet shelf.  I crammed a few more games and puzzles in the family room closet and gathered up the bountiful array of gift cards.  Now, I have been guilty of letting cards like these go completely to waste in years past, losing them, not knowing what to get thus ignoring them.  We all have done it. In fact $2 billion per year of gift card dollars go wasted.  But, I am determined for this year to be different.  I am a new home owner– I can’t afford to let good plastic money go to waste!  So, I though I would share some strategies for using these tiny shopping spree rectangles to the fullest.

If you have a card that you are really just NOT going to use (S & M Emporium?) try an online gift card swap such as Plasticjungle.com

In my humble opinion, there is nothing wrong with regifting a gift card– you got $20 to Meat Town from your grandma who refuses to accept your vegetarianism?  Make a beef eaters day!

Don’t let a card waste away because you are “sure” the store does not offer anything you are interested in.  Maybe Tire World isn’t your thing but they carry tons of cute air fresheners and keychains!

If you have a whole deck of gift cards, set up your date night schedule around them.  Make your plans to fit the cards instead of making plans randomly and then wondering afterward “Didn’t I have a gift card for that somewhere?”

This may be a little too unconventional for some but consider paying for certain services with gift cards.  I am sure my babysitter would find more age appropriate clothes at DEB than I would anyway. Or maybe the kid down the street who feeds and walks your dog when you are out of town would love those free movie passes.  Just remember to ask about it first.  Even kids often prefer cold hard cash.

Not into that day spa gift card you got from your mother-in-law?  Especially when the card is for just $10 to a spa where that wouldn’t even buy a five minute massage.  You can’t even get out of your clothes that fast!  Don’t fret, spas and salons often sell luxurious prepackaged products right out front, so if you don’t want to chip in 90 additional dollars to your spa day just pick up a nice leave-in-conditioner or foot soak and relax at home.  And bonus, you can ask about what products to try and get their expert advise for free!

Remember, they spend like cash so treat them like cash– put them in your wallet for safe keeping and easy access as in…

Cashier:  “Do you have any coupons or gift cards?”

You:  “Wait let we check my wallet.  Yep!  Here you go.”

Gift cards don’t do you any good at home under a pile of old mail or under your bed.

Beware the vampire Time!  For he slowly sucketh the life blood from your gift cards.  I hate this, but some gift cards lose value over time when they are not used.

Remember to use them up, even if it seems silly.  My husband and I received a gift card for $100 to a very expensive steak house.  We ended up using about $85 on a luxurious dinner leaving just $15, which would not go far at this place on a return visit.  So?  We returned another day and ordered one dessert to share and guess what?  They didn’t throw us out and we didn’t shock all of humanity.

If you are planning on giving a gift card check out the nifty new prepaid credit cards.  I call them the “anything gift cards.” Use like a credit card anywhere you would use a credit card. Available through Visa, Mastercard, and American Express.

So, there you have it friends.  I hope my tips have been helpful and happy spending!

All right gift card maximizers, what are your tips for getting the most while spending the least?  Leave a comment…

Article publié pour la première fois le 29/01/2013

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