Thursday, July 31, 2008

Pick a card, any card

I like gift cards. We give a lot of them for weddings, and I love to get them for Christmas gifts. I'm particular about stuff I want (and am already overloaded by "junk" I don't), so being allowed to choose my gift is a gift in itself. Plus, when I have a giftcard to use, I like take the opportunity to shop by myself and wander at my own leisure--which makes a gift card as much about "me time" as it is the book/clothing/coffee drink that I actually purchase.

Somehow, we've gotten overloaded by them lately. I have been gathering them from around the house, and I think I could re-tile the bathroom floor with them. Don't believe me? Here's a list of the unused (or partially used) gift cards in our house that I am aware of:

Borders (at least 2 separate ones)
Barnes and Noble
Starbucks (at least 2, one might be empty)
Best Buy
The Viking Store
Lerner NY (technically, it's a paper receipt with store credit from a return)
Texas Roadhouse
Landmark Cinema (I think that's the name...the one in Plaza Frontenac)
And a prepaid Visa card (a rebate of some sort)

We could shop till we drop for an entire weekend, and still have plastic left over.

I guess this isn't a bad thing, really, except that some of these cards are aging. Some gift cards start charging fees after the cards go unused for a specified amount of time. And when stores go out of business, the gift cards are often rendered useless. I believe that they are considered by the courts to be a form of unsecured debt, and in a bankruptcy, all of the secured debt is paid off first.

Our current bounty makes me nervous. I get anxious about money in different ways than my husband does. He worries about putting away enough for the future, and having money left over for our heirs. I'm more concerned with making sure today's bills get covered. We're comfortable now, its true, but I can't shake the fear and the habits to make sure that we stay that way.

And stuffing money into drawers and bulletin boards, where little fee-mice will nibble the corners off of it makes me antsy to go out and spend. At the same time, for the cards that were gifts and not just store credit, I feel obligated to spend the money effectively, and get the best gift I can for the giver's money. That means that I'm reluctant to blow an entire card in one purchase.

As for my husband, he's not a big shopper in the first place. Nor does he have a giant purse to cram full of excess plastic and carry around every day. And he also has a Hershey's bar in one of those "it's a She" wrappers sitting on his desk from a baby announcement several years ago. (Pack rat? I'll call it extra sentimental) I think that he might prefer to tile a bathroom floor with gift cards rather than actually spend them.

Does anyone else have problems with gift cards piling up? How do you deal with them? Of is it just us...

1 comment:

Kathy G said...

I'm trying not to give so many gift cards. To me, nothing says "I didn't know what to give you, so I picked up a piece of plastic" than a gift card...I'm trying to make an effort to find out something the person really WANTS and gift them with that..

However, sometimes in cases like wedding presents that's really difficult, so I have been known to buy a gift card or two.

When I get a card, I hate to let it go to waste. Sometimes I'll have two or three stuck in my wallet "in case" I make it to a store, or I'll add one of those stores to my list of errands and make a specific trip just to use the card.