We all know the difference between needs and wants. We were taught as children that overindulging into our “wants” could be reckless and greedy. As we get older, some of us learned to be more responsible with our money (I’m still learning!), but regardless, it is inevitable that we WILL buy things we WANT no matter how thrifty we fancy ourselves.
Spending money that you have is alright, but just because you have it, doesn’t mean you should squander it. Know what you want, and find the cheapest means available for obtaining it. One such way is the use of gift cards. No I’m not just talking about the gift cards you may have received as the latest Christmas or birthday presents, I’m talking about gift cards that you go out and buy for yourself!!
If you are like my parents, whom I love very much but wouldn’t consider to be the most tech savvy and trendy, then you probably are more familiar with coupons and sales as a means for saving on items you want to purchase. Ever notice on the ever so tiny disclaimer at the bottom of a coupon, it often says “not for sure on sale items”? Ever notice that sale items cannot be combined with multiple discounts and coupons? How about this one…“one coupon per customer per visit”? Think about the savings you could achieve if you were allowed to combine these offers. Let’s say for example that you can’t use the 10% off coupon in conjunction with the sale item. Well you could purchase a gift card online that is discounted 10% from the face value, believe or not this is the same thing! Oh yeah, except coupons don’t have a cash value and a gift card does.
Here’s what you do; Google something like “gift card buy back” or “gift card purchase”, and you should easily find a handful of reputable sites offering these discounted cards (plasticjungle, amazon, ebay, bidtwister, swapagift). The discounts tend to range from 1% to 35% off the face value of the card. These sites are able to buy gift cards from the seller at a very discounted rate, and then pass through some of those savings onto you when you purchase off their website. I myself have sold gift cards that I knew I would never use. Obviously, it’s in your best interest to keep the full value of your own gift cards if you can use them, otherwise don’t let them go to waste. It is estimated that $5 billion in gift cards go unused every year. This is a ridiculously high number considering the how many websites will pay perfectly good money for them.
Let’s look at a real life example shall we. I recently bought my first home, and I spent this summer doing some of the more manageable projects that I felt I could accomplish on my own. One such project was replacing light fixtures throughout the house. I don’t know if any of you have priced these things out, but they are expensive!! Considering I had ten of them to replace, it adds up to be quite a bit. A friend of mine had also recently purchased a home, and had several 10% off coupons to Lowe’s, and I thought great, I love their selection and getting 10% is good. You know what’s even better? Getting 20% off! Unfortunately I’m not able to combine multiple coupons in order to double up the savings, but I can buy Lowe’s gift cards online at a 10% discount and add that together with the 10% off coupon. Oh and guess what else? Coupons can’t save you money on taxes, only the amount of taxes you are charged based on your purchase amount, however, gift cards can be used to be tax as well! So not only did I receive 20% off my purchase, I also received 10% of the amount of sales tax as well. In Michigan, sales tax is 6%, obviously this will be more or less relevant to you depending on where you reside.
Granted it can be difficult to find the better discounts to the more popular stores at times, but if you are patient, do some research ahead of time. Bookmark the sites, keep checking back, the savings can really be worth it, especially considering it can apply to the movie theater, bowling alley, floral arrangements, restaurants, groceries, home improvement goods, etc. Gift cards are the same as money! And remember, money is the root of all things good!!!