One of the most commonly forgotten items I find in my clients’ homes is the gift certificate, often by the dozen. I can’t say ‘use it or lose it’ to Connecticut residents because there is a law ending expiration dates on gift certificates. In New York and other states if you contact customer service about an expired credit card, they will likely restore the balance or give you a cash refund to maintain good customer service. Nevertheless, my question regarding a large collection of gift certificates is, what are you saving them for?
I often find these large collections saved by busy moms, who are terrific at taking care of their family, but not always themselves. Sure, there are valuable lessons to be learned from self-sacrifice, but there are also valuable lessons from rewarding yourself once in awhile with a gift, especially if it is a gift someone else has intended for you: a gift certificate. Easier said than done. I know. Here are some tips.
Sooner than later.
Gift certificates are wonderfully easy to give, but not so easy to use. The main barrier is time, especially for all those spa and salon certificates I see everywhere. The giver is happy to think of you being pampered, within the next week or two, not after the kids graduate from High School! Don’t wait until you have a free block of time, because that won’t come soon. It takes a little effort, but you owe it to yourself to squeeze in a little you-time. Why? Because not only do you get to feel good from the pampering, but the giver gets to feel good when you tell him or her how much you enjoyed it and you get to feel good AGAIN when you have made the giver feel good. Don’t let all this good feeling get lost in a pile!
Store near use.
If you can’t use the gift certificate right away, store it as close to the point of use as possible. I keep a collection of gift certificates and coupons in a clear envelope I keep in my car door. If I find myself at Staples buying supplies, I’ll check this envelope for rewards certificates. A pocketbook might be a better answer, but I wouldn’t overload your purse with gift certificates. Keep them in a separate envelope.
Create a shopping file.
A shopping file becomes useful as we buy increasingly more online. It’s handy to have one file to collect all online purchase ideas, coupons, and yes, gift certificates. If the point of use is near your computer, then it makes sense to have your online gift certificates filed in your home office, not your car.
I can promise you that no one is going to award you self-denial points for all the gift certificates you collect, so you might as well enjoy these gifts and soon!