I found myself in an unusual situation. My insurance company has sent me an OTC card about a year ago, and they had given me a certain amount on that OTC card. I’m the type of person that doesn’t like to spend money unless I need something. I only use the card sporadically because, honestly, I was trying not to add more stuff to my home, considering that I had already been through a nightmare of moving stuff out and didn’t want to reenter that nightmare. It’s easy to accumulate things without even thinking about them. And I didn’t want to be one of those hoarders who stacked so much toilet paper and paper towels and other toiletries that it looked like I was a hog. Then my insurance company sent me a nasty notification that I had until the 31st to use the card, or they would deactivate it. Being forced to spend money is not something I’m used to doing. So today, I decided I would go ahead and use the card up because there wasn’t much of a balance left on the card, and I thought this was an excellent time to replenish some things.
I went to Walmart and scanned the barcodes for various items I needed and wanted to make sure that the card would cover them. Of everything that I needed and wanted the card covered, I thought, well, this is a good thing that way I can use this card up. I got to the checkout line and wrung everything up. And when the total came, the total was $36.95. My card had a remaining balance of $36.84. I only had to pay 11 cents. I was excited because I had gotten tea, Orange juice, cereal pickles, mayonnaise, and crackers. I also picked up some chips and a couple of other items, and by the time I checked out and spent my 11 cents, I was thrilled. I used up every last cent and didn’t leave any money for the insurance company to take back.
It was not a situation I was used to because I tried not to bring in too many possessions. I have learned to live very minimally over the last two years. So picking up items that I usually don’t acquire made me need a little of an adjustment. I think the thing that I’m trying to get across to everybody is if you have cards that have a balance on them and you have a deadline to use those cards up, try to meet those deadlines and don’t let that money go to waste. I had made that mistake in the past with gift cards that had a small window of time before they expired and realized that I was wasting money.
Be sure to check your gift cards or any other card that you receive and make sure there are no expiration dates on them. Many Visa, Mastercard, Amex, and Discover prepaid cards have a year on them before they start charging you a $2 fee a month for not using the card. I’ve made this mistake more times than I can count, and I can attest to the fact that’s the fact that I throw away money that I didn’t realize I did.
Thank goodness food stamps do not expire because I have a good friend who is on the food stamp program and depends on that program for food. If it were to expire, I think he’d be in trouble. If you decide to give gifts of gift cards and other programs that might be like a gift certificate or something along those lines, be sure that the person will use it in the amount of time allotted. If you don’t know if they like something, then ask them. Don’t assume anything.
The truth is that costs are rising everywhere around us, and we have to be smart about what we spend and how we spend it. By keeping an eye on our gift cards, we have fewer chances of throwing money away.
So as you embark on the day, I hope you can find things that work for you. If you need to get a gift for someone before you even contemplate gift cards, make sure you’ve done one of two things. The first is to know that that person will like the gift card and will use it. The second is to make sure that there’s no expiration, and if there is, make sure that the person will use it in that time. Some people spend money the second they get it. I’m not one of them. I’m meticulous about how I spend and what I spend. I’ve become highly frugal as I get older.
You may want to dig through your stuff and see if you have any gift cards that are still lying around. If you do, make sure they’re still valid, and if they are, if there is something that you want to use, you might want to use them because so many places are beginning to close because of the pandemic. It’s getting more difficult for businesses to remain open. People aren’t spending like they used to because they’re scared and broke, and the economy is inflating so much that people can’t afford the rising cost of living if they don’t get more money from their jobs. Spend wisely and do everything you can to come through for yourself and others. Have a great day, everyone.