As a consumer advocate, I usually say that consumers should make a budget and stick to it, think carefully before making purchases, as so on. Here is a fun and refreshing piece of consumer advice: if you just received a gift card this holiday season, get out there and spend it!
A nationwide survey by the Consumer Reports National Research Center in November 2007 found that 27% of consumers who received a gift card the year before still had not spent all of the funds on those gift cards. Read more about this survey at: http://www.consumersunion.org/pub/core_financial_services/005188.html.
Money Mom says, just spend your gift cards before they get lost, or even worse, get eaten away by fees. Fees are a much bigger problem with bank-issued gift cards (the ones that may say VISA, MasterCard, Discover or American Express on them) than with the cards you get from a single retailer, because many states have laws to protect you from expiration dates and fees on retailer gift cards. To see if your state restricts fees and expiration dates on retail cards, check our state list: http://www.consumersunion.org/pub/core_financial_services/003889.html.
If you don’t use your gift cards right away, put them all together in a file that you’ll look at the next time you have a purchase to make. For more about gift cards, see this free article at Consumer Reports Online: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/money/shopping/shopping-tips/gift-card-pitfalls-12-07/overview/gift-card-pitfalls-ov.htm?resultPageIndex=1&resultIndex=1&searchTerm=”gift%20card”