Everyone in my immediate family is an exceptional gift giver. For every occasion of every year, we love giving each other thoughtful, clever gifts. But we are not the norm!  I find that many people have resorted to giving gift certificates as holiday gifts. I believe this is a great thing especially for extended family and fiends. As long as it is something useful, who doesn’t want a gift certificate? The gift giver spends less time and effort shopping and the recipient is happy to save money and buy whatever they really want for themselves. In addition, no time is wasted returning unwanted items. However, I have been noticing a few common mistakes most of us make with gift cards that we should all try to avoid:

1. Not checking when the gift card expires and/or how much money is on it
2. Losing the gift card completely
3. Forgetting the gift card at home and spending actual money at the register
4. Purchasing things you do not really need or want b/c they are “free”
5. Using the gift card immediately because you are excited to shop or need instant gratification

My best advice for avoiding all of these issues is to first check the dollar amount and expiration date and put all of your gift cards in an envelope or safe place. If it is something like a gas or Starbucks card that is frequently used, just keep it in your wallet. As far as impulse gift card shopping goes, it is important to recognize that stores are in between seasons. Sales are picked over and the current merchandise is mainly “Holiday”. If you are in need of a New Years Eve Dress – go for it. But keep in mind that Resort clothes are just starting to roll in and you will probably want some new items for Spring.  I know it is hard to think of now, but when those hot Fendi wedges and bags are staring at you from the shelf next month you might be kicking yourself over that red sparkly dress!

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