365 Frugality Tips: Use Gift Cards

January 17, 2013

Day 17: Year of Renewed Frugality

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.

Speaking of gift cards, I’ve posted below some opportunities, available through my affiliate networks, for you sign up to win gift cards from various companies. Good luck.

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6 Responses to 365 Frugality Tips: Use Gift Cards

  1. JUDY INGRAM on January 19, 2013 at 9:10 am

    I, too, like the idea of bonus gift cards being given something is purchased. For example, the $100 Applebee’s gift card (with no expiration date) I purchased as a Christmas gift resulted in two $10.00 Bonus Cards. However, be aware of expiration dates on bonus cards….mine expires @ the end of February.

  2. Ian Filonczuk on January 18, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    Awesome Blog. Using gift cards is a way to go, because of the bonuses that are given for purchasing them. I’m sure that you already know about this, but many of them basically give a free money amount when purchased or a free item. This is just compounding the savings when a person uses coupons to purchase the items or services as well (with the already purchased gift card). If a person is going to shop at that place anyway, why not get the bonuses too. A combo meal comes with a 25$ gift card purchase at Deltaco, and I got a 5$ bonus for purchasing 25$ at IHOP and Denny’s. When we go to use the card we will use the BOGOs, kids eat free, or another coupon (as examples).

  3. Terri B. on January 18, 2013 at 10:21 am

    I think the biggest issue here are those people who have a gift card with only a $1 or $1.50 left on it. These cards sit in the purses or wallets, forever never to be used. I always tell people if you get a gift card, find a place to go and spend a little bit more than you should, that way you can spend the entire gift card but only pay what you owe and you don’t feel too bad.

    • Leah Ingram on January 18, 2013 at 11:16 am

      Great advice!

  4. Janice on January 18, 2013 at 12:48 am

    I’m interested in the IPSOS and/or NCP. Have you had any feedback or any other info regarding either of these companies, other than you can win free items? Are they very time consuming, as I am limited to some degree with life being very full? Just wondering if it’s worth the time? Thanks Leah!

    • Leah Ingram on January 18, 2013 at 11:16 am

      I personally have not as I am not a big fan of surveys. Sorry I don’t have personal experience to share.


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