Tracking holiday gift cards
I’m sure many of you received holiday gift cards just as I did. I know many people don’t like gift cards, but I actually prefer them, especially Visa gift cards. I’m fine with store specific cards as well, but Visa gift cards are great because you can use them anywhere.
I’m a fan of gift cards in general for two reasons:
- Many of my interests make it difficult for people to buy things for me (i.e. banjo, saltwater aquariums, model trains)
- I am often not sure what to get people, and giving gift cards allows them to get what they want and/or need.
For example, my wife needed some clothes this year and while I could have picked some things out she liked, her and I are both fairly particular about our clothes. I elected to get her a gift card to Old Navy instead, which she promptly used!
The one downside to gift cards is that I tend to spend more than I normally would. For example, my in-laws gave me a $50 dollar gift card to Best Buy. I needed new new case for my Blackberry and wanted to get a cheap blue tooth headset to use when I am on calls in my car. The case was 31.99 and the headset 19.99. Total 51.98 plus tax. I ended up spending some money out of pocket. Had it been my own $50.00, I probably would have skipped the headset and waiting for one to show up on Woot or Dillyeo for next to nothing.
Tracking gift cards with a spreadsheet
Another big down side for many is not properly tracking gift cards and the remaining balance. Many gift cards don’t ever get fully used and frankly when this happens people are giving the merchants fee money. I’d rather spend a little more than not spend the whole gift card!
To avoid this, I built a very simple tracking spreadsheet that lists off all of the cards we currently have, their balance, and separate tabs for tracking purchases. Each year my parents usually give our whole family a Visa gift card for one large amount along with a card saying how much money is for each member of the family. This particular gift card is a little more difficult to track, but I’ve even set-up the spreadsheet to manage that card as well.
The spreadsheet is free to download and feel for you to distribute to whomever you would like. I figured if it benefited me, it should benefit you as well. I also put some basic instructions for using it on the first page.
How do you keep track of gift cards you receive and their remaining balances? Do you like receiving gift cards? Share your thoughts, add a comment!
Photo by: arvindgrover