Gift Cards serve a ton of purposes! Some people assume that gift cards only provide an alternative to buying actual gifts. Most gift givers give give gift cards during holidays, birthdays, and even anniversaries. There are various reasons why people would rather give a gift card than an actual gift.
They may simply work too much and be way too busy to buy every single person on their holiday list a gift. This could be that they work a ton of hours and have a lot of people on their list, which would require a lot of planning and time. So, they may just make it quick and grab a gift card to make it easier.
They also might not KNOW what everybody on their list like/want, so they make it easier on everybody by giving gift cards. This will not only save the recipient of the gift the hassle of possibly returning something they didn’t like.
Did you know that Gift Cards can also serve other purposes besides gifts though? They could actually be VERY helpful at teaching kids about money and budgeting and keep YOU from overspending. Here are some very helpful Gift Card Budgeting tips:
Image via dealbreaker.com
There's an almost ancient idea for budgeting called "Envelope budgeting". The idea is simple. You divide up the cash that you have on hand and put it in separate envelopes with the expense categories on them. You can only spend what is in the envelopes.
When there is no money left in the envelope you can't spend any more in that category. If there is money left in the envelope at the end of the month, you can either put it into a savings account
or put it with next months “expense envelope.”
This idea can be applied to gift cards too. This will make it even easier because the kids have less chance of losing a losing a gift card or getting it stolen. They will also be less apt to spending money on a gift card then they would cash.
Teaching Kids about Money & Budgeting
Kids these days have a very hard time comprehending where money comes from. I was at the mall where a kid was asking his mom for a new Playstation or DS game. His mom replied “we don’t have enough money to buy that right now”. He looked up at her and said “mom, don’t worry. You have enough money, you can swipe the card” He seriously thought that money just WENT on the card, that she or his dad wasn’t working for the money that went on the card. This is a very common thing and why many kids do not know that expenses/budgets even exist. This is why when teaching kids the value of money, gift cards can be very helpful.
Say that your son needs a new pair of shoes for basketball practice. Instead of taking him to the store and right out BUYING the shoes for him, there is an alternative. This will help him learn the value of money because he will see which shoes he can purchase with the amount of money he has. Instead of giving him cash, load the amount you need/want him to spend on his basketball shoes on a gift card. Let him make his own decision about what shoes he can get with the amount of money that is on the card.
He’ll be able to understand that there is $100 on the card. Buying a pair of $105 shoes cannot happen because there isn’t that much on the card. If he looks closely he might be able to find the same brand of shoes a little cheaper in a different color or make?
Image via GoWallet
Instead of giving your kids their monthly allowance in the form of cash, give it to them on a gift card. Tell them that they can only spend the amount that is on the card, and they don’t get anymore. This will soon help them learn how to weigh the prices of the things that they purchase.
Families spent an average of $1,139 on prom in 2012. Help her make money prior to prom and save it on gift cards to the store she wants to buy her dress & accessories. Most parents favor splitting the bill with their teen. Their teen makes half of the money and the parents chip in the other half.
Budgeting Your Bills & Necessities
This might not have crossed your mind before, but Adults can use these tricks too. Think about all the things that you spend money on during the month- gas, breakfast before work, lunch while at work, and coffee? Eating out with your family, buying clothes for your family, and household necessities like cleaning supplies, dog food, and groceries. You could take a month’s receipts and add up the average amount that you spend in each category and budget those expenses onto gift cards.
There is a possibility that you already own at least one gift card. You could add more to the mix to help you stay on budget. Think about the certain stores that you shop at and think about buying a reloadable gift card. Do you purchase your cleaning supplies, office/school supplies, and certain other items at the same store? Target, Walmart, Kmart? Save money by buying a gift card.
How is buying a gift card going to help? It will keep you from throwing extra items into the cart randomly. You don’t want to use the cash you DO have on hand and you want to refrain from swiping your credit cards as much as possible. SO, you go by your gift card budget which will help you save money!
Do this with your grocery store, a certain spot that you buy coffee before or during work, and your go-to lunch spot. This will help you look for deals, specials, or maybe find certain coupons that will help you along the way!
Also most vendors offer discounts to consumers who hold gift cards to their sites. Also, you may want to look for their extra “MVP” cards, which will come with extra discounts. You will see the logo above certain items that will tell you that there is a discount for card members.
Bottom line? Gift cards help us concentrate on what we need to buy. If we just have a gift card handy–and not cash or credit cards–it's difficult to go adrift and waste money for things not within the budget. It assists us to say "no" to ourselves. When we can see the budget you have to work with and you know there will be NOTHING left after that budget is used up. Using gift cards to teach kids how to maintain and handle their money definitely gets them off to a great start!
Oh, and while you're at it manage those gift cards in one easy to run location with GoWallet. GoWallet allows you to combine and organize all your gift cards online or on your mobile device. You don't have to pack all the cards around with you. One swift glance and you’ll see how much the balance is on the cards. It even allows you buy extra cards right through the app. Registration is free, Why not give it a test drive and give gift card budgeting a spin?
Sign up for Gowallet now!
To get you started with the Gift Card Budgeting Idea, Stylish Southern Mama is giving away a $25 Gift Card to your choice of Kmart or JCPenny!
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