Posted by Tim Stobbs on January 4, 2010
If you are like me and have a few gift cards from the Christmas you might be tempted to make a common mistake and spend them while telling yourself that it’s not really your money you are spending. This often little change of view results in people paying too much for things or buying things they don’t really need or want since they excuse themselves with thinking the money is different. In the end it’s still your money.
Now granted a gift card often chains you to spending that money at a specific store but it doesn’t excuse you for looking for a deal. The second you got the card it became your money so realistically you still have to spend it with your typically frugal touch of not spending more than you have to on something.
So how can you make sure you spend it well or don’t forget about the money? Well here’s what has worked for me.
- Keep the gift card handy. If I spend the card in store I make sure to keep the card in my wallet the same as cash so I remember to actually use the money if I come across a deal (I’ve just started doing this one, but it has already been a useful tip. So thank you readers for this idea!).
- Keep used cards around after. If I use the card online I ensure I keep the card afterward for 30 days just in case you need to get a refund (A few stores I shop at require the money to go back on the same card it came from).
- Shop Online. I often have found either better deals or something better selection online with many stores. Also if they offer free shipping it doesn’t cost me any more money and all I have to do is wait for the item to show up in the mail or pick it up at the store. I very often do this with books.
- Watch out for odd limits on multiple cards. I’ve run into a few times where a store website won’t let me use more than two gift cards on a single order. So I either do more than one order if I have more than a single item or try to have the cards combined in advance to avoid this issue. Combining cards might be a good idea anyways if you got a larger number of gift cards for the same store (it take up less room in the wallet).
- Don’t be in a hurry to spend it. I often can wait for months for a good sale on something I want and the same applies with gift cards. It takes up almost no space in your wallet so don’t rush up to spend it just because you have it. Take your time and think about things.
So that’s my tips on spending gift cards, what has worked for you?