>> Saturday, January 16, 2010
So, here we are. It's January and you probably have already burned through many of the gift cards you received over the holidays.
The ones you still have left are probably from somewhat obscure places or are for places that don't carry what you really want.
Bear in mind I use the term "general fund" a lot. The general fund is the fund I use for regular, household purchases: groceries, paper products, linens, health/beauty products, etc. These are the items that we use the most of and need replenishing regularly.
Cases in point:
I had a gift card for Target,but they didn't carry the vacuum cleaner I wanted. Walmart did. What to do?
Simple, I used the Target gift card for groceries, thus giving myself a credit in the general fund toward the vacuum cleaner, which I bought the following week.
I had a general "pick-a-gift-card" to a grocery store that I do not like to shop at. However, this was the kind of gift card where I could use to buy another gift card, so I thought I was in the clear. I really wanted something from Amazon. Alas, they didn't sell Amazon gift cards. What to do?
This is a little complicated. DH had given me a "verbal" gift card to Kohls ("Honey, just go ahead and spend $50 at Kohls.") so I bought Kohls gift cards and shifted my verbal giftcard to Amazon. Another option would have been similar to Tip #1 where I could have put the card toward the general fund, by shopping at the grocery store, but I really HATE that grocery store.
I got a crisp $100 bill from my dad and wanted to apply this also to an online purchase. What to do?
I could have gone to the trouble of putting it in the bank, but instead I used it at Walmart toward my biweekly purchases, thus entering it into the general fund. Now I have a "virtual" credit anywhere I want.
My kids got a gift card to a big toy store, that I think is way overpriced. (Apparently, I am the only one who thinks this, as this toy store is hugely popular with my friends and family.) I was kind of stuck in that they don't sell things I could use toward the general fund. What to do?
I gave the gift card away for the first kid's birthday party we were invited to. I then put cash into my kid's envelope toward a future purchase.
A few years ago, I really had my eye on a new "fancy cell phone", but it was a lot of $. What to do?
I got on my bank's website and signed up for their rewards program. I switched some things around, so we are now only using our bank cards for purchases and paying all our bills online, thus maximizing our rewards, or points. Now every few months, we get a $25 MasterCard Gift card, which I saved until I had enough for the phone.
Note: I did lose some money because the older cards had had deductions from the bank for not being used. Next time, I will be aware of this and use them toward the general fund before the monthly fees kick in.
So I have just listed 5 tips for using gift cards. I have also heard, but not verified, that there are websites where you can exchange your gift cards for one store to another you want. Use these sites with caution, however, as I have also heard stories of people trading out used or invalid cards.
(photo credits: robinsonsmay, and borman818,)