Ok, it’s the new year. I’m organized. I’m well-rested. I am ready to face 2019. As for resolutions, I made one and I also made three daily goals. Rather than getting into why I chose “Forgive” as my one and only NY resolution, I thought it was way more important to talk about what we do with all the gift cards we received over the holidays first. I mean, priorities.
You know how it goes. I planned on organizing my gift cards but then I found myself doing three other organizational tasks before I could get to organizing the gift cards. I began by going thru my wallet. While I was there, I figured I might as well organize it. There were coupons in there that expired in 2017! Next, I knew I had some gift cards clipped together hanging on my bulletin board. You can guess what happens next. I organized the bulletin board which took up some of my precious time. Besides a tidy bulletin board, there is another bright spot: I found more thoughtful pinch topics! And last, I went thru my desk drawer and found, besides a little mess, some gift cards but they weren’t for me. They were thoughtful pinches to give to others. I moved those gift cards to a place where I store my thoughtful pinches and now I won’t forget them.
By this time, I have organized three areas and I have all my gift cards. Now what? I have gift cards that I “won” at silent auctions and ones that I earned and ones that were gifts. I have so many, it’s not even funny. I decided to put them into categories just so I can see what I have. There’s a “Food” category, an “Entertainment” category that includes a month of yoga and a “Shopping” category. I also have the Visa gift cards that I have used except for $5.35 on one, $53.59 on another and two that have expired. Yup, I have been holding onto a $50 Visa card that expired 12/15 - never used.
I really HATE is to see anything expired. Food, coupons and gift cards etc; I don’t like to see that I am holding onto anything that has expired. It reminds me of my organizer friend, Vasilia. She told me many years ago to forget about cutting coupons. What? Obviously, she wasn’t aware that I liked a bargain and that I loved to save money. Why was she telling me not to save money? Calmly, like she always was, she explained that the process of collecting the coupons, reading the fine print, cutting the coupon out, filing the coupon in a system to remember when to use them and finally remembering to bring the coupon with me, were about six steps too many for me and my lifestyle. I let those words sink in. Vasilia continued to explain. By holding onto the coupon, I am using energy that I am already short in supply of and it causes stress instead of saving money. I let those words sink in. What she was saying was that because I know that I have a coupon, I want to use it. If I remember to bring it and I remember to use it before it expires then its a win-win. However, if I can’t accomplish either of those steps, then it’s like I failed and that causes unnecessary stress. She was so right! For me, coupons add stress and does not save me enough money to make it worth feeling that way. To find expired coupons is one thing but to find a couple of gift cards that already expired REALLY sucks. One expired gift certificate was to The Guthrie Theatre, another was to Crave restaurant, another was for a month of yoga and last, I have dividends ($68.29 + $95.40) from REI that were not used before they expired . I HATE that!
Luckily I caught a Tiny Acorns photography certificate that will expire 2/2019 and the kids have two wristbands for Nickelodeon Universe in Mall of America that will expire 2/28/19. Gotta use all of those up in the next month. I’m also nervous about our gift cards to Barnes and Noble. Fingers crossed business continues to thrive for B & N but to be safe, I better use up those cards too because you never know. We all have had those gift cards to venues that go out of business and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Ok, so I have my piles of cards and certificates. Now what? Well, I scheduled a “Gift Card” day so that I can literally go from place to place all day long and use my gift cards. I need and want to feel a sense of peace that those who gave the gift cards to me actually got their money’s worth. I have a meat store gift card, coffee venues, Japanese restaurants, ball room dancing, a blow out and make up certificate, photography - I mean, the list goes on. It makes me wonder, what do all the educators do when they get so many gift cards? They must have some sort of system that I need to learn about.
One of my favorite thoughtful pinches to give to educators are wallets that could be specifically used for gift cards. My friend Katie makes some cute oil cloth ones. I like to give them filled with a couple gift cards to start off an educator’s gift card collection. I used to carry my gift card wallet around all the time (note how worn out it is) but it was heavy. Since I always try to streamline my purses, the gift card wallet was often left at home. Well, I can’t use gift cards unless I bring them. There was a time that I kept this wallet in my car but I would worry too much that if my car was broken into, the cards would be goners. Funny thing: Even if I had the wallet in my car, I would forget to bring it into the store and inevitably I would be too much in a hurry or the weather prevented me to easily run back to the car to get the wallet. I would just say to myself, “Next time!” And this is why I am where I am.
Nowadays, I’m really digging the venues that let you load your gift card onto their app because ain’t nobody going anywhere without their phone! It’s a full-proof (or foolproof) way to ensure that you use the gift cards. Thank you Starbucks!
So I’m ringing in the new year by scheduling a “Gift Card” day into my calendar once a week until all of my cards are gone. My goal is to use as many gift cards in one day and challenge myself to be finished with these gift cards by the end of the month. You may ask, what if I get more gift cards before I can even finish redeeming the current ones I have? Now what? Well, I am not going to put off what I can do today. I will use them as soon as I get them. I’m so done with my past attitude of saving them for a “special occasion”. If I get a gift card, I will use the gift card as soon as possible. This is something I’m learning from my kids who use what they get asap. It’s the New Year and I’m going “to forgive” myself for wasting the gifts cards that have expired. Baby, I’m moving on to 2019!
P.S. The post on “Forgiving” as my NY resolution is coming soon!