Finance/Budget-Gift Cards

Discussion in 'Budget & Bargains' started by ejagno, Jul 10, 2014.

  1. ejagno

    ejagno Well-Known Member

    How many times have we planned, prepared and saved for our holidays only to be discouraged when the "little" things added up to a budget buster during not only our holidays but all throughout the year?

    Over the next 5 months we'll all be scheduling those family photos, hair appointments, Christmas outfits, extraordinary feasts, etc... When you began your Christmas savings in January you had no idea the cost of living would have gone up 14% for food alone much less another 6% minimum on everything else. This is going to be very difficult for many to absorb at the last minute.

    As I was filling up my car after having my hair done it occurred to me that my weird way of doing things might help others. You see, I grew up in a home where every penny was precious and you had to be prepared for hard times. As an adult we survived floods, hurricanes, job loss, illness and more so much easier than most because we "prepared for the hard times".

    One way that I've always done this is by utilizing Gift Cards. These days there are very few places that do not offer them. You can get a gift card for everything from oil changes to hair cuts. How are you going to pay for it?

    Okay, so you've scheduled your hair cuts for every 8 weeks and you know that it will run $100 for that cut and color. You also know that you are most likely going to have that special Christmas Party whereby you are going to want that style that only the beautician can pull off, so that's an extra appointment. Starting today go get a gift card specific to your salon. Mine is JC Penney so that was easy. I put $30 on this card every 2 weeks. This not only covers my regular 8 week appointment but leaves enough extra on the card to take care of those special occasion styling. I don't have to worry about busting my budget in the middle of the holidays.

    Many of us travel much more during the holidays. Whether you are planning that 6 hour trip or simply heading out on black Friday or cruising the town one night to see the beautiful lights, you are going to need extra fuel during the holidays. Start planning now by getting a gift card specifically for fuel/gasoline. I use Sam's Club so I got a fuel card from there and took a Sharpie and marked it "FUEL". Every week I add $75 to this card. It only takes $58-$62 most weeks to fill up my 4-Runner. The extra is accumulating to spare me the additional expenses during the holidays or heaven forbid, should we have to evacuate for a hurricane.

    I have several gift cards. This eliminates holding on to a lot of cash either physically or in your checking account where it's too easy to dip into. It's my version of David Ramsey and has served me well. You can get gift cards to the movie theater because we all know there's always that one great Christmas movie that comes out during the holidays. You can do this at your preferred grocery store because with a 14% increase in food we'll be watching those sales closer than ever and will have the money (gift card) on hand to take advantage of every one.

    Just thought I'd share some of the methods to my madness. LOL Hope it helps!
     
  2. luludou

    luludou Well-Known Member

    I always thought a GC was bought with a fixed amount. Never knew you could add on it... great idea! Thanks Ellen
     
  3. missjane

    missjane Well-Known Member

    What Ellen is referring to is actually reloadable shopping cards like they have at Walmart, grocery stores, department stores, etc. They are store specific. You can get also get reloadable Visa and Master Cards. We've used them for DDs when they went on trips with school so they wouldn't have to carry so much cash.

    I have noticed that our local Dollar General has a better selection of GCs than Walmart, which includes Amazon cards that can't be purchased at Walmart. They have a wider selection of cards to fast food restaurants that I thought about while I was reading Ellen's post because during the holiday shopping, I find that we eat out more often because the town we have to go to, to shop is 50 miles from where we live. They also make great stocking stuffers and can be picked up all during the year, not adding that cost all at once during the holidays.

    I have been trying to tuck away all the $5 bills I get in change to use for the holidays.

    Great post, Ellen!
     
  4. luludou

    luludou Well-Known Member

    Jane - I like the $5 tip... will be using that one. Don't like to buy GC too early because they are good only for one year at some places.
     
  5. Minta

    Minta Administrator Staff Member

    When looking into making the holiday budgets we always look at what we spent the previous year and factor in 10% more for the upcoming year.

    We have a more laid back approach to the holidays ...no real special outfits. We use what we have in our closets any maybe spluge on a accessory piece to change it up a bit.

    I color my hair twice a year ... Spring and fall and already budget for those.

    We have money tucked away already for beach trip this summer and back to school shopping. Any money left over will get rolled over into the holidays.

    I am always on the look out for deals on gifts for the family and when I find any if I can swing it I pay for it without dipping into the Christmas funds.

    I like the idea of getting a reloadable giftcard and adding a few dollars here and there for extra splurges or emergencies. We are cutting out all fast food/take out except for special occasions so the money we save could be loaded onto a gift card.
     
  6. sweetpumkinpye

    sweetpumkinpye Well-Known Member

    I really like the $5 idea. Really there is not that much you can buy with a $5 note. Even for bread and milk here you need to produce a $10. So by stashing away all the $5 notes I could end up with a little nest egg.
    Thanks for sharing.
     
  7. festivefun

    festivefun Member

    I do the gift cards here too. Well for certain things as if they are lost then I can't redeem the money>not that I plan on loosing any.

    My family normally do Christmas dinner from scratch, but it has become a lot more stressful. So we decided to buy everything kind of prepared from Marks and Spencers. We budgeted it last year at £100, so I have £50 on a card, my brother and I are going to put another £25 on each this month, so although we will probably spend a bit more, the majority will be covered.

    I love Christmas coffees and hot chocolates from Starbucks and Costa, so think I'll buy one of them and I will chose a restaurant for us to buy- don't need to cover the whole bill, but if I buy a £40 card and the bill is £60/70 it will feel a lot easier to cope with.

    I also have my partner and my brother's birthday on 3rd and 6th of January so another restaurant gift card would make a difference there too.

    I love all this chat :D
     
  8. sweetpumkinpye

    sweetpumkinpye Well-Known Member

    Michelle, the idea for a restaurant GC for the birthdays in January are great. If you buy them before Christmas, you do not need to worry about buying something in the post Christmas crazy.
     
  9. festivefun

    festivefun Member

    Thanks Katrina; the beauty of MHH, always inspiring me x
     
  10. kakelady

    kakelady New Member

    I do something similar for gifts. I watch for "sales" on GC year round. My kids use, and give game cards. Target just had a buy one get one 25% off. Since I have to get them any way... Walgreens, Rite aid, CVS usually have sales on their gift cards, or coupons. $5 off a $25 i-tunes card.. And they are great last minute gifts, or stocking stuffers, or perfect for mailing to out of town recipients. I buy them year round. I LOVE GC!!! and who doean't like to get them!!! Usually come January, or even the week after Christmas we have GIft card day, where we go out for the day and only buy things we can use our GC on..

    Also, if you use sites like Swagbucks, Mypoints, or similar sites, you can use the accumulated points, from x-mas online shopping, to get free giftcards for next years stockings!! It's perfect!!
     
  11. Minta

    Minta Administrator Staff Member

    We got the Christmas Club paid off last weke so for the next month we will continue to tuck a few extra dollars here and there. Have been working on my grocery list of items that I will need for my holiday baking and plan on picking up a few each week based on sales.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2014
  12. Winged One

    Winged One New Member

    I do something similar for groceries - we have savings stamps for €2, put €98 on the card and they give a final €2 stamp free to fill it. Whoopee! (It's not a lot, but 2% is better than the bank is giving currently!).

    But more importantly, the machines selling stamps take €1 and €2 coins. Or you can buy them at the tills too. But by spending some of the change I have rather than weighing down my purse during the year, I build up a couple of cards to use when I want to replenish the store cupboard on all the 25%-50% extra free and buy1get1free type offers. I also then feel happy to spend that money on buying a week's worth of (non perishable) grocery shopping for a family that I give to the local goodwill collection - instead of just a few bits, I bring down a full trolley with things like nappies and toothbrushes and cleaning things, not just a few seasonal treats and breakfast cereals (which is what most donations seem to be - I do have plenty of those as well).

    I like the idea though of keeping my starbucks card well topped up in advance, and I am planning on getting a GC for a local restaurant we use for a family meal out before a concert. I might do that in the next few weeks to have it put aside.
     
  13. MinnieCo

    MinnieCo Well-Known Member

    I've been adding on to my Wal-Mart and Costco re loadable cards for a couple months. I need to do it year around and will think about that this coming year for sure, but I'm happy I'll have a little saved up come December.
     

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