National Gift Card Use Day

I write my balance on my gift card so I always know what I have to spend.

National Gift Card Use Day

Ok, it’s time to get real: how many of us have a small (or maybe large) stack of gift cards in our wallets or somewhere in the house, collecting dust because we never remember to use them?

You can’t see my hand, but it’s up!

As an organizer, my gift cards are conveniently located in the center pocket of my wallet and I currently have seven:

  • The Container Store (shocking, I know)
  • Draeger’s (local grocery store; actually for their cooking school)
  • Pier 1 Imports
  • PetSmart
  • Cinemark
  • Williams Sonoma
  • Costco

Then there are the two in my “pending” file in my active filing system: one is a paper print out for a free float at Balance Float and the other is a paper gift card to a local restaurant (both birthday gifts, people know me so well and know I love consumables and gift cards.

If you happen to have a huge number of gift cards, I’d recommend getting a small accordion file (Target use to have these for $1) and keeping them there. You can group by category or type, or even by store. Categories would look like:

  • food and drink
  • for the house
  • for the office
  • for the pets
  • for fun (movies, cooking classes, floats, manicures)
  • beauty/clothes

I use this method for coupons as well, and tell clients to keep them in their car or purse. If you are going to keep gift cards in your car, be sure to lock them in the glove box as they are like cash and anyone can use them. Otherwise it might be safest to keep them in the house in a safe place. Heck, I’ve already admitted to having mine in my wallet so if my wallet is ever stolen, there go the gift cards with exactly how much is on them. But that’s the risk I am willing to take.

Typically when I get gift cards I use them rather quickly. But there are times that I carry a balance on those cards.

I highly recommend you write the balance of your gift card on the front in a sharpie marker so you know exactly how much you have left.

The cashier can tell you the balance or you can usually find it on your receipt. As an organizer, I always have a sharpie on me so I tend to do this right at the store. But if you aren’t a celebrity, author, or organizer and don’t happen to carry a sharpie on you at all times, you can do this at home. If the balance needs to be updated again, just cross out the original balance and write in the new balance. Trust me – this is super helpful!

But truth be told, despite being super organized, I often forget about the gift cards even though they are in my wallet which I’m in EVERY DAY! Like The Container Store merchandise credit which I’ve probably been carrying for a few months because I never remember to use it. I know we are all guilty of this, so I had a thought:

Why not pick a day and make it my goal to use up all the gift cards in that one day?

Naturally I googled “national gift card use day” and didn’t see one – perhaps I’ll put in an application to start the day. Perhaps it’ll be today. What I did find is that December 26th is National Gift Card Exchange Day. This blog let’s readers know that if you don’t like the gift card that you were given over the holidays, you can either trade it in at various sites or using various apps, or possibly even get cash for it (although not always at the full value, and the card can’t carry a random value, it needs to be un-used). There are a whole slew of sites and apps that offer this service.

Since there isn’t a national day for using your gift cards (well, at least not until I put in that application), the day can be of your choosing. Perhaps you want to use one of your “spontaneous days” to go around using the gift cards. If there’s nothing that tickles your fancy at the store, perhaps buy something to donate (like school supplies, books, kitchen gadgets, new towels, etc.), or buy a gift for others.

Another idea is to do this on your birthday. A lot of local stores and restaurants will give you special perks and freebies on your birthday so you can make a really fun day of it! My sister-in-law does this every year for both her, my brother, my niece and their dog! It makes their birthdays special and super fun!

So whether you use your birthday or a random date you select by circling your finger around and finally letting it land on a date on your paper calendar, find a time to use those gift cards and schedule it into your calendar. Do it sooner rather than later, especially if you happen to live in a state where gift cards expire (thankfully in California it’s against the law of gift cards to expire). If you’re not ready to make a purchase at that specific store, consider trading in your gift card for one you’ll more likely use, or at the very least write your balance down so that when it comes time to use that card again, you’ll know exactly how much you have on it.

If you pick one day to use your gift cards please let me know what day you choose and why, or what you got. I’ll report back as well!

Lauren Mang
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