Resolve To Use Your Gift Cards

My wife had a great idea for one of her New Years resolutions:

Use up as many gift cards as possible.

As soon as I heard it, I thought it was a great idea that I had to share with my readers, so big shout out to Mrs. Beagle for this one.

See, both my wife and I are savers.  We don’t like to spend money frivolously, and we also both spend money with assigned purpose.  So when we get a gift card, whether it be as an actual gift or a store credit for a returned item, we’ll often say to ourselves that we want to use it for something specific.  Then, it sits there.

For example, we’ll return an article of clothing we bought for one of our kids at Meijer, which also happens to be where we do our grocery shopping.  We’ve actually sat on gift cards there with the mindset that we won’t use it until we buy another piece of clothing for that particular child.  Which sort of makes sense.

But this makes sense, too: Use the dang thing since you go there every week, then you’ll have a few extra bucks in the bank that you didn’t spend since your grocery bill was lower.

So, my wife has been using a gift card here and a gift card there over the past week and a half.  We haven’t come out ahead just yet simply because we both got various gift cards for the holidays, but I’ve committed to joining her in the gift card reduction program, and I think it will make things much more organized on the gift card front after we’ve made it a point to use them over the upcoming weeks.

Our strategy of holding onto gift cards too long hasn’t been working.  I don’t want to go to the opposite extreme of using it just for the sake of using it, because then you’ll either end up with something you don’t need or overpay for something.  A happy medium would be great!

How do you manage your gift cards?

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25 thoughts on “Resolve To Use Your Gift Cards

    • I used to laugh at people that rushed out and used them, but honestly, it really does make sense because we find that we just sit on them and that’s not really doing anybody any good, nor are we getting any enjoyment out of them.

  1. I’m pretty good about using my gift cards, especially since I only get ones that are for stores I would frequent anyway. My favorite one is my iTunes. I love having that money in my account and I can make purchases without thinking about it.

    • That’s the tough part for me about using a gift card in stages rather than all at once: I hate the last transaction! As long as you keep it funded, sounds like you’re in good shape!

  2. I usually keep them in my wallet, but sometimes I forget about them. We set aside a $35 visa gift card and forgot about in for 4 months! I even forgot about an amazon gift card in my email for a few months…glad I remembered about that one 🙂

    • I never have, though without their e-mail reminders I might have otherwise missed one or two. You tend to forget about them a couple days after buying them.

  3. This is now my new strategy because we recently found some that had been misplaced for awhile. I hate losing free money!

    Also, we sometimes re-gift them or give them to trashman, babysitter, etc, people who have helped you throughout the year.

    • I’ve always heard that you’re supposed to tip the trash guy but I’ve never met any of our trash collectors so I would have no idea about whether they’re even the regular guy if I were to hand over a gift. Plus, our city has bins where they can pick them up and empty them without even getting out of the truck, so it’s all gotten rather impersonal nowadays!

    • LOL, well that’s one way to solve the problem. I’ll try to get to the ‘ping’ response. Thanks for thinking of me!

  4. We forget to use them. Like you, we have been making an effort to use them up and dropped the number very nicely just recently.

  5. I just had to laugh when I read this title. My mom gets my wife and I JCPenney gift cards for Christmas and birthday presents. I must have had 3 years’ worth set aside as I had about 7 sitting around on my desk so I finally used them 3 days ago to pick up some new clothes. I am not a shopper. It must have been about 3 years since I have purchased anything so I replaced 4 pairs of pants and several shirts. I got lucky since only one of the cards had lost and money.

    • I just found one for Best Buy that I had to have gotten ten years ago or more. I went online to check and it has the full amount. It’s only $15 so it’s not like I’m getting a new TV or anything, but that’s still pretty cool.

  6. We get CostCo cards every year from family, and those get used right away. They help rebalance the grocery budget in January after the always more expensive months of November and December.
    We also get generic Visa gift cards that can be used anywhere. We do tend to sit on those for either a specific major purpose (C is considering a tablet this year) or a dinner out at a restaurant we wouldn’t normally go to.
    We did have one relative who sent us cards to a store we were rarely in. One day, a few years after we got the gift cards, we were in that store looking for something fairly expensive. We pulled out the cards thinking maybe we’d used them, that they have $5 left or something. Nope, almost $200 on the gift cards. We used them up and got we wanted for a lot less out of pocket than we expected. That was nice.

    • Wow, that was an AWESOME find. Good stuff. I like the thought that using them in January balances out spending from previous months. Maybe a good strategy is to use them more often in high spend months. Thanks for the thought starter!

  7. I have a separate card holder in my purse just for gift cards so I don’t lose them. The hubby and I just had a great brunch yesterday by using the last of an IHOP gift card along with a BOGOF coupon. French toast is so much yummier when it is free!

    • Yeah, my wife had a gift card holder that I think was an old coin purse. The problem was it got so stuffed she realized she had let things get out of control! Agree, free is best!!!

  8. My wife is a pre-K school teacher so she got a lot of gift cards. We shopped at Macy’s and Nordstroms the day after Christmas. Some of the other Visa gift cards, I gave her cash for and used them for my business expenses. The other gift cards we do not shop converted to Amazon GC at PlasticJungle.

    Redeem your gift card. Retailers love it when you don’t redeem them. And there are billions of dollars left on the table because of non-redemption:

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