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Gift Card Sprees
Matt Wood | Dec 27 2007
If you're like me, you probably got a whole playing deck worth of gift cards over the holidays, those presents that say, "I felt like I needed to get you something, but put the least amount of thought into it." And if you're like me, getting one of these cards is a mixed bag of emotions. For one, there's the "Woohoo! Free money!" feeling from thinking about spending one of those things. But there's also the "God, now I have to set aside time to go spend this thing" nag that turns a gift card into just another chore, not to mention remembering to pocket the damn thing when you do decide to use it.
I can't help you a lot with that last one. You do have to set a time to go cash in those gift cards, or at least plug in the account number when you buy something online, and you can't very well spend it if it's sitting on the counter at home when you leave. But I can tell you that if a someone offloaded their holiday shopping onto you, the least you can do is make it feel like a present, not a burden.
The best way to spend a gift card is all at once, either on one large item you've had your eye on, or a massive pile of smaller things that you can load into a shopping basket. Make a game out of it: if you got a Borders card, see just how many paperbacks you can balance down the aisle for that money and chunk them down onto the counter in triumph (providing you have room for them at home, of course). If there's not anything particular you want at the time, then wait. Don't go spend it for the hell of it, because that defeats the purpose of the gift card, i.e. being able to get exactly what you want.
Try not to overshoot the card's value too much, lest you turn what was a gift into more credit card debt. But whatever you do, don't leave any value on the card, because then you'll be obligated to make another shopping excursion, and it's just another psychic burden to haul around.
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