National Use Your Gift Card Day

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

National Use Your Gift Card 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?

**UPDATE** Since writing this blog a National Use Your Gift Card Day has been established for the 3rd Saturday in January! That means Saturday, January 18, 2020 is the next one – who else has marked their calendars?

Or 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 the new official day (3rd Saturday in January), 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
  • Shelley Hunter
    Posted at 17:06h, 22 October Reply

    So wait. Is there a day? I always thought it should be in January…shortly after the holidays, when clearance sales are still going on, but spring clothes are also available. People who want to stretch their gift cards further can get great deals and people who want a jump on the next season, have “free money” to spend. I love it.

    If there isn’t a day…let’s make one.

    I’m all for people using the gift cards in their wallet. I call it “Tidy Up those Gift Cards!”

    • Lauren Mang
      Posted at 05:57h, 23 October Reply

      As far as I can tell there is not an official day – just a National Gift Card Exchange (as in give to others) Day on 12/26. So perhaps one of us should put in an application (! I agree January is a good time of the year!

  • Missy
    Posted at 16:02h, 04 November Reply

    Great article Lauren, however, there is National Use Your Gift Card Day! It’s official and launching in January 2020.

    • V Ciaravolo
      Posted at 16:49h, 04 November Reply

      I saw it!!!!! I’m so excited!!! 😀 … I just wonder who’s going to partner….finally something to keep me in check!!

      • Lauren Mang
        Posted at 04:33h, 06 November Reply

        We’ll all be accountability buddies to help hold each other accountable on 01/18/2020!

    • Lauren Mang
      Posted at 04:31h, 06 November Reply

      That’s fantastic news! I’ll mark my calendar – thank you!

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