How early is too early to start planning for Christmas?
Oh—it’s never too early? Good news—you’re already on the right track if that’s how you answered that question.
Especially for families with children, Christmas can take a lot of financial planning. Even homemade gifts involve an investment. If you begin saving in December, Christmas finances may come up short when the time comes to purchase gifts.
But saving and scrimping for an entire year can be exhausting. Lots of families don’t get around to considering the holidays until at least halfway through the year.
If you’re thinking that there must be other creative ways to make Christmas spending easier, you’re in the right place—and you need only to look around your home and in your wallet.
Funds might be hidden in those old, forgotten gift cards taking up space in your wallet or lying in the back of a drawer. With them, you’ll find the key to extra cash for the holidays!
Tip #1: Sell Your Gift Cards Online for Spending Money
It can seem like once money is spent and assigned to a gift card, that money can only be used for the establishment on the card. But there is another option!
Many families sell gift cards online and receive cash payouts in exchange for them. All too often, you receive a gift card for a vendor you enjoy, but something gets in the way. Maybe you can’t find anything you love at a clothing store or the nearest restaurant for your gift card closes its doors.
Perhaps even more often, gift cards simply get lost in the shuffle. They can get buried in a wallet behind receipts or at the bottom of a purse.
The good news? Parting ways with the cards in order to make a different, needed purchase—like Christmas gifts for your family—is much easier when you consider that you weren’t really missing the gift card you had. When you find it, you can turn to selling the card online for a more flexible form of funding and hit the mall for Christmas shopping!
Tip #2: Search for Old Cards in Unlikely Places
Of course, old gift cards might be in your wallet. That’s the first place to look, but gift cards can get lost in so many other places within the home, as well.
Think about all the places gift cards might end up, especially in terms of your own home’s specifics. Do you have an area where bills are paid or files are kept? Gift cards could definitely be hiding in this area. The home office is a perfect place for papers and small items to be lost, so gift cards might fall into that category.
Sometimes gift cards, unfortunately, don’t make it out of the greeting card they originally were tucked into. Where do you store your old birthday, Christmas, and other holiday cards? Often, a rereading of the cards you received for past holidays can yield a gift card or two you forgot to take out and put in your wallet.
What about the kitchen? Do you have a “junk drawer” or a place where all the odds and ends of the house end up residing? Along with the spare stamps, matches, and paper clips, you may find a forgotten gift card.
Be sure to look high and low for these sources of extra, easy income. When it comes to Christmas, families who sell gift cards online find that a quick scan of the home for cards they aren’t using helps them to make the most of what they have.
Tip #3: Think Outside the Box (Store)
There are many establishments—restaurants and stores alike—that are most popular when it comes to gift cards. Starbucks, Target, and the like are all popular gifts, especially around the holidays, and those are the cards you most likely use quickly.
But what about those specialty stores and restaurants that may not come to mind when you think of gift cards?
If you want to sell gift cards online, the key lies in considering all types of stores and restaurants for which you have gift cards. Don’t assume that since a store is small, the online service will not accept that card. Take a look at the list of accepted cards on their website—the card you have is likely on the list! Even if it isn’t, most online buyers allow their customers to send them information about the card’s vendor and exchange it for cash after they’ve added it to their database.
Gift cards for specialty stores or smaller restaurant chains work exactly like those coming from big box stores, so they will work similarly when being sold online. The cash payout may vary slightly, but the card will certainly contribute to that Christmas fund you’re working toward.
These are often the cards you may forget about, too, especially if they can’t be used at the coffee shop on every corner or the popular store in every town. If you have to make a special trip to a neighboring town or shop in a store you don’t frequent, the likelihood that you’ll use the card decreases.
That’s why these unique cards are even more important when working toward a sizable Christmas budget. Find them, sell them back online, and use the cash for any gift you want!
Tip #4: Consider the Gift Cards You’d Really Want
Part of the choice to sell gift cards online involves considering the gift cards you really wanted. Which restaurant or store would’ve caught your eye more and been spent quickly?
Take a moment to reflect and decide which cards you want to receive in the future. Sometimes, we are given gift cards because they are easy to purchase and send. Family members who live far away may especially gravitate toward this method of gift-giving.
There is no problem with inviting future gifts from specific vendors. No one wants his or her gift to be lost in a wallet, so considering why the gift card wasn’t as usable as you would have liked is valuable.
When giving gifts, too, you can consider the qualities of the gift cards that you did use immediately, and try to purchase those types of cards as gifts to give. If you buy a card with money gained from an unused card, that money will go further faster.
Tip #5: Make Thoughtful Purchases for Christmas Gifts
Sometimes the cash you receive from selling gift cards back for cash will go toward other gift cards. Receiving funds from old cards doesn’t mean they can’t be put toward a different card, as some family members will prefer gift cards to other options. For example, we’ve all had the experience of a family member wanting a gift card to a clothing store instead of a piece of clothing from that store, as sizes are sometimes difficult to guess.
Because you have considered what goes into purchasing a gift card that will be used, you will be able to make thoughtful purchases with the money you earned back. In order to sell gift cards online and make the most of the process, be sure you put the money toward thoughtful gifts.
That could mean a Starbucks gift card for your coffee-loving best friend who drives by the coffee shop every day before work. It could mean a new bike for your niece who has been using her brother’s hand-me-down bike daily. It could even mean a check for an Airbnb stay for your parents.
However your gifts take shape, make sure you are using your new source of income to the fullest, purchasing gifts that will be used and appreciated most.
Tip #6: Take Inventory in January
So you’ve found your old gift cards lingering around your home, turned them into spending money, and given great Christmas gifts. What now?
In order to sell gift cards online each year and make the most of the process, you should start in January. It’s soon after the crazy rush of Christmas, yes—but some planning and care during this month will help lay the groundwork for another amazing Christmas the following year.
Gather the gift cards you received for Christmas in one place. Make sure you have found them all and that none have gotten lost in their original cards or in extra shirt boxes or Christmas bags. Put them in an envelope or small bag in a place you’ll remember and pass by daily. This way, you will think to look in the gift card spot before going shopping or out to eat.
You may use up the cards, or you may use some and find that others go unused. Either way, you’re being productive with gift cards. This is the crucial first step toward making the most of your resources.
Tip #7: Make a Plan for Gift Card Spending
After you’ve set aside the cards, make a plan for their spending. Decide when you will use specialty cards. For example, if you have to travel out of town for a specific restaurant for which you have a gift card, choose a date and mark it on the calendar. Mark down a date for a mall day with your best friends and take your cards along.
Also, choose a date you want to spend the cards by. Mark the “deadline” on the calendar, deciding, for example, that you want to spend the cards by the end of March.
Beyond then, the cards left will be those you probably won’t spend at all—those that might, again, find themselves at the bottom of a purse or the back of a drawer.
Tip #8: Sell Gift Cards Online—Early!
This is the time to sell your gift cards online again—but this time, the process has started much earlier. You’ve given yourself plenty of time to use the cards, but now they can be used for something else. Sell them and create a Christmas fund early on.
Throughout the year, birthdays and other holidays will pass, and you can recreate the same spending plan. This will bring up more unused cards, and it will ultimately give you almost the whole year to save for Christmas gifts.
Getting into a good cycle with using and selling gift cards will help you figure out how to make the most of what you have. You’ll either enjoy the immediate benefits of having a gift card—coffee on the way to work, for example—or exchange the gift card for something you truly need—a good fund for gift-giving in the future.
Tip #9: Keep Up Your Practice
You’ve learned to sell your gift cards online for extra Christmas cash—but the key to making the process work over time is to keep it up. Do this every year! Get into the practice of selling your gift cards, and it’ll continue to pay off year after year. You’ll learn how to make the most of your money and learn tricks and tips over time.
Most importantly, you’ll have a way to make Christmas look the way you want it to look. It’s tough to operate under a small budget for Christmas, especially when you have many people in your life you want to shower with gifts.
By earning some extra cash from gift cards you’re not using, you’re taking a step toward those magical Christmases you’ve dreamed about for years. Imagine the sight of your children and relatives opening gifts they’ll love—those faces will be priceless!
But the additional satisfaction will come from knowing those gifts were purchased with resources you used wisely and through a simple, fast process. With the tools you’ll gain from completing that process the first time, you’ll have all you need to provide magical, happy Christmas mornings for years to come.