I, like all of you, have skills. In addition to organizing,
- I can quote movies and song lyrics from a range of decades and genres;
- I can roll my tongue, and wink with either eye (my 12 year old’s suggestions);
- I can read upside down, and I know the number equivalent of each letter of the alphabet, so writing in code is a piece of 3-1-11-5 (cake); and
- For today’s purposes, I know way more about gift cards than most people. (There are more skills, of course, but that’s enough for now!)
Why do I know about gift cards? In addition to giving and receiving gift cards like most people, I help administer a gift card-based tuition reimbursement program at my son’s high school, so I spend a lot of time working with gift cards. To help you this Holiday Season, I thought I would drop some knowledge on how to use and give these handy items!
Here are some tips to help you manage your Gift Cards:
- Gift cards are money. Therefore:
- They are meant to be spent, and
- They need to be managed (management is defined as getting the most out of our resources).
- Know where your gift cards are, and what you have in stock. Have a single safe place at home to keep them, in one drawer or on your desk (Not all over the house!).
- If you just don’t know how much a gift card is worth, call the customer service number on the back, or go to the website. If a card has been used, the company can usually track exactly when and where the balance was used. Grab a sharpie, and jot the date and current balance on the front of the card. Keep a small sharpie with you, to jot the new balance on a card if you only use part of the value. This one clicks on a key ring!
- If you received gift cards for a certain store or restaurant, sign-up online or via an app or social media (FB, Twitter) for special offer notifications. Use your gift cards along with those special promotions to get a bigger bang for your buck. For example, I have a Starbucks Gold Card, and with my on-line account I receive special offers and can add money or gift cards to the balance.
- Carry the gift cards you plan to use with you, but certainly not all the cards you have. Carrying all of them could be cumbersome and you risk losing them! (There are apps like Slide to manage and digitize your gift cards.)
- And yet, you don’t have to take your gift cards with you. If you receive gift cards for on-line retailers like Amazon.com or ITunes, redeem the gift cards and add to your online account balance when you receive them, and then toss the redeemed cards away.
- USE YOUR GIFT CARDS! They are money, but some can lose value over time, or merchants may go out of business.
- If you have gift cards that you don’t ever plan on using, you can sell your cards. There’s Craig’s List or Facebook groups dedicated to buying / selling, plus other websites or apps just a quick google search away.
This week, collect those gift cards from all the spots you’ve stashed them, and turn them around for more gifts, a nice dinner out or maybe some $$ for Christmas Shopping!