Today’s frugality tips focuses on gift cards. Why? Because they are a popular holiday gift, and they could help you save money in 2013.
According to the National Retail Federation, 81.1 percent of shoppers in 2012 planned to purchase at least one gift card, and six in ten gift recipients said they’d like to receive gift cards as gifts during this past holiday season.
How many gift cards did you or your family members get at the holidays? If you’re like my family, at least each member of your family got at least one gift card. My teenage daughters got about three each.
Between the NRF stats and our own anecdotes, my guess is that you have some gift cards leftover from the holidays. How are you planning to use them?
I’m not condoning your going out and shopping recklessly. Rather, I would suggest gathering up your gift cards, organizing them a gift card wallet, and then keeping that gift card wallet with you whenever you go to the stores. The idea is that if you need to buy a gift for someone or need to spend money, you can use the gift cards instead of spending your own money.
For example, my teenage daughter recently joined Future Business Leaders of America, a club at her high school, for which she needs business attire. Last weekend I took her to JCPenney to get a pencil skirt and button-down shirt, and used the gift card that I’d gotten for Christmas to cover the purchase. Clearly, I was going to buy her the clothes she needed no matter what. But the idea that I could do it without putting a dent in my budget was even better.
Another way to use gift cards to save you money? Regift them when you need to give a gift to someone else. Of course, you should only do this with a gift card you haven’t used yet. The idea of giving someone a “new” gift card with only the partial amount on it is beyond tacky.
In a perfect world, I would love to use all of the gift cards that we got for holiday gifts and make splurges. And sometimes that happens. But when you’re looking at ways to save money and have a renewed sense of frugality, using those gift cards to offset your spending is likely a better idea.