Do you have a stack of restaurant gift cards collecting dust? Just found a drawer full of gift cards you’ve never used?
Don’t feel bad – it happens to all of us! Sometimes we think we will “save” them for a rainy day and never get around to using them. Sometimes we just forget about them. Regardless, I bet you have at least a handful that needs to be put to good use.
So, how about implementing an annual Gift Card Day? At least once a year, pick a day (preferably a day you don’t work so you have a full day), and designate it Gift Card Day!
Related posts: Love saving money? Check out this post on saving money for your next vacation!
How to get started
First, gather all your gift cards. Search your wallet, junk drawers, whatever other “safe” place you might have stashed them. Take inventory. I like to put them in category piles – i.e. coffee, fast food, restaurants, movies, activities, etc.
Now, pick out a few that you feel like you “need” to use. Maybe it’s a spot that you are afraid is going to go out of business, or a gift card you’ve had for a really long time. Set those aside and plan on using them for sure.
Round out your day with a few more, and make yourself a quick itinerary. Now, pick your day and go wild! It’s a lot of fun (and a little challenging) to spend the entire day using only gift cards. You’ll have a memorable day AND not spend any money. Win-win!
Example of a great gift card day
Need some inspiration? Here’s an example of a recent gift card day we enjoyed:
- Breakfast – Starbucks coffee and breakfast sandwiches (Dunkin or another fast food joint would have been another option).
- Morning activity – TopGolf! This is a lot of fun and since the bays are typically less expensive in the morning, your gift card goes farther!
- Lunch – Cheesecake Factory. We always end up with a ton of these gift cards that we receive as gifts or purchase at Christmas when they have awesome gift card deals, so it’s a perfect lunch choice.
- Afternoon activity – shopping! This is the time to use those random store cards you somehow end up with. The challenge is not to spend more than the card AND to not purchase from stores where you don’t have gift cards. On this day we went to the comic book store and Vera Bradley.
- Dinner – since lunch was a bit heavy, we ordered a pizza from Dominos. Carry-out so we could enjoy it at home with …
- Evening activity – movie from RedBox!
See how easy this is to put together? Obviously, your day will vary depending upon which gift cards you have on hand, but it’s a fun challenge to give yourself! If you don’t have an entire day (or enough gift cards), just plan an afternoon or morning outing. Still lots of fun.
Where to get gift cards
Some of them you’ve probably received as gifts, but if you are savvy, you can often pick up gift cards for less than the amount and stash them away for a future fun day.
A few of my favorite places to buy gift cards include Sam’s Club or Costco. Even Kroger or CVS will often have coupons you can clip in their apps for discounted gift cards.
At Thanksgiving, Christmas, Mother’s Day, Graduation, and Father’s Day, many restaurants will have “deals” where you get an extra gift card or percentage off if you purchase direct. Just be careful to read the fine print as often the extras must be used within a set time frame. For instance, the Cheesecake Factory often offers free slices of cheesecake with gift cards for Black Friday but they have to be used by 3/31 of the next year.
Finally, the best method is to “earn” them – then they are truly free money. My favorite online resources for earning gift cards include Swagbuck and MyPoints. My favorite app is called Fetch – you just snap receipts for points. Couldn’t be simpler. All three are super easy and add up really quickly
Insider tip: use the links above to get extra points when you sign up! And then invite YOUR friends to get even more free points! For Fetch, just enter the code F1VTB for at least 2000 points after snapping your first receipt.
My final place to get a great deal on gift cards is a new app called Fluz. If someone invites you, you’ll get 3 vouchers worth up to $3.50 each, and a discount on gift cards like Starbucks, Chipotle, etc. If this sounds intriguing, drop me an email (phoward336 at yahoo.com) and I’ll send you an invite with my referral number.
So what do you think? Who’s ready to plan a gift card day? I’d love to hear what you come up with and how you spend your day, so please share in the comments.
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