Maximizing Your Gift Card Dollars

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Gift cards can be a great way to enjoy yourself on a budget. Not only are they fun to collect, but they are like having money in your wallet even if you don’t have a penny to your name. In just a few steps and a few short weeks, you can get more bang for your buck just by using plastic. Gift cards are easy to carry with you and always handy when you’re short on change.

Set up a coin jug. A 32oz canister will hold over $57! You can use a coffee can, water jug, or even a mayonnaise jar. Cut a slot in the top and start putting your spare pocket change into the container.

When your jug is full, roll coins using paper coin rollers which you can get for free at your local bank. Deposit rolled coins into a money bearing savings account and do not take from those funds. You are saving money, not spending it once you have a nice chunk of change. This is a year-long process.

Apply for a debit card for your savings account. Most bank debit cards are paired up with Visa or MasterCard. These can be used to make online purchases as a credit purchase. Check with your bank to see if they are part of reward programs through the credit card that offer points on your debit card when used as a credit card. You may be able to earn 1 point per dollar charged which can then be turned into additional gift cards.

Find a website that allows you to order gift cards online. Using your debit card as a credit card, purchase gift cards from sites that allow you to earn points or credit towards additional gift cards for each purchase. This adds up to about 5% in free money depending on purchase.

Use a coin-counting machine such as the green Coinstar© units found at most grocery stores. Coinstar© is free if you have your change put onto a gift card. Wait for Coinstar© to offer promotions for free coin counting. Coinstar© periodically offers a free $10 gift card when you change $40 or more in coins, but it will be for the same retailer you select. That’s $50 for each $40 ~ $10 free money!

Purchase your restaurant gift cards during the holiday season. Most restaurants will give you a free $5 paper gift certificate for each $25 gift card purchase you make. That’s $30 for the price of $25 ~ free money!

*Always put your change into the fund.
*Keep your change fund jug somewhere near where you empty your pockets so that it is easy to put your change in the jug.
*Wait for Coinstar© to offer promotions, this helps you get more for your coins.
*Wait for the holiday season and purchase gift cards during special promotions at your favorite restaurants.
!Do not take from your fund, it is there for savings, not for dipping, you’ll never replace it.
!Don’t keep your jug out of sight, out of sight is out of mind and you’ll forget to use it.

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