Be Smart With Your Gift Cards

I know quite a few people who can’t bear to keep a gift card around for long.  As soon as they receive a gift card, they’re off to the store to spend that thing as if their lives depended on it.

While gift cards may not have cost you any money, they did cost somebody some money.  Remember to treat your gift cards just as you would your hard-earned money.  Spend them wisely!

Here are some ways that you can make the most of those gift cards:

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Know when they expire and keep track of the balances.  There’s nothing worse than going to use a card and realize it’s no longer usable.  If the dollar amount isn’t written on them, you may want to do that.  Knowing the balance can help keep you from overspending.

Keep  your gift cards in a safe place.  Treat them just like cash, because if they get lost or stolen, they’re gone forever… just like cash!  Make sure you know where they are so that you can access them when you want to.

Make a wish list.  It’s very easy to get caught up with ornate store displays or persuasive sales clerks.  Make a wish list of things you’d like to buy, and you won’t end up wasting your gift card on impulse buys.
Use the card on clearance items.

Check the reviews and ask around.  If you’re planning to use your gift card on books, music, movies, or electronics, be sure to check reviews online or ask your friends and family for their opinions.  Marketing pros have a way of making everything sound fantastic and you could end up spending your money on something you can’t stand.  Get some opinions before shop.

Watch for end-of-season clearances.  Here’s where you can really stretch your gift card money!  Watch for clearance sales – not just in January – but throughout the year. You may be able to get 2-3 items with your gift card instead of just one if you’re a savvy shopper.

Consider buying something frugal.  Sometimes the wisest purchases are those that can help you save money in the future.  Check out programmable thermostats, compact fluorescent light bulbs, books on debt reduction and frugal living, or handy kitchen tools, when looking for ways to spend your gift cards.

Use Ebates.  If your gift card can be used online, check Ebates to see if you can earn cash back on your purchases.  You’re already planning to spend the money on your gift card.  Why not make a little money while you’re doing it?

Making the most of your gift cards is not only smart, but it honors the person who gave you the gift card, too.  They’ll love to hear about the deals you scored.

About Christina Brown

Christina is a wife and mother dedicated to figuring out how to live a simpler, happier life on a budget.

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