According to the National Retail Federation, billions of dollars in gift cards remain unused every year. There lies the possibility of maximizing your budget by buying gift cards others won’t use. Most of us have had the experience of getting a gift card we are not excited about. There is no need for them to go to waste. Someone else will appreciate it. You may never eat at Starbucks, but others may crave iced coffee at least once a week. There’s a lid for every pot, and there's a gift card for every need.
When you buy a discounted gift card, you’ve already won: You buy a $100 gift card with a 20% discount and get to keep 20 bucks. A discounted gift card is a bargain in itself, but it’s a gift that keeps on giving. For example, by purchasing a discounted gift card with your credit card, you also get reward points. In addition, most gift cards allow you to stack coupons and offers.
Getting into the habit of using discounted gift cards for weekly purchases like grocery shopping or coffee, can help you limit how much you spend. Look for discounted cards for your favorite go-to stores with the amount of money you have budgeted. Not only will the gift card help you save through a discount, but it will also help you keep track of your expenditures. What's more, discount cards are a hassle-free and safer alternative to cash envelopes, where you save the amount of money you will need for an item in your budget. Instead of having to go to the bank and extract the money for the envelopes, you can have the right amount in gift cards.
If you feel that searching for deals on gift cards might send you down a rabbit hole, don’t fret! Most websites have filters that allow you to find what you need quickly and intuitively. A smart way to avoid extra temptation to spend is to search for cards when you have a specific need. Let's say you want to go on a date night, use the filters to find cards for restaurants, hotels, or spas. Play around with your options depending on your plans: a trip, a date, or a girls' night out.
Another smart way to include gift cards in your budgeting is to use a filter to find the highest discounts. You may find gift cards marked 10, 20, or even 26% off. However, in weekly or monthly expenses, a much lower discount is still a smart financial decision. If you know you need to make a weekly trip to Walmart, a gift card marked less than 10% off is still the best choice. By adding your weekly savings through gift cards, you can save a significant amount in the year that can go towards goals like a family trip, airfare, or a weekend away.
Discounted gift cards can become tools that help you meet your financial goals. Nonetheless, here are some tips to avoid any risks. To begin with, read the terms and conditions thoroughly, so you know what to expect. Before you buy gift cards in bulk, double-check if the store allows more than one for every purchase. For instance, if you are saving towards paying for a plane ticket, make sure you can use any number of gift cards before buying in bulk. Also, look for the expiration dates and be certain you can use them within that time. You might be tempted to buy a gift card because it has a high discount, but you may not be able to use it before it expires.
If done well, discount cards can become a powerful tool, both for saving and tracking your expenses. Follow these guidelines, and you will maximize your budget and contribute to less waste. There is no need for a gift card to sit in a drawer, it only takes the right person to find it and put it to use.