My New Windfall

Tax season is over.

money

money (Photo credit: 401(K) 2013)

This year, TurboTax and Amazon teamed up to offer me a 10% on up to $1200 of my refund if I took it as an Amazon gift card.

$120 free if I spend that money with a company I’m going to spend money with anyway?

Yes, please.

I spend lots of money with Amazon. ¬†I subscribe to many of my household items there, because I use them and I don’t want to have to think about buying them. ¬†I get my soap, shampoo, toilet paper, paper towels, and garbage bags automatically delivered. ¬†There’s a bunch of other stuff, too, but that’s what I remember off the top of my head. ¬†If I have 5 items in a monthly delivery, I get 20% off.

Free money, free shipping, and none of the hassles of shopping?

Yes, please.

So now I have a $1320 credit with the company I use for most of my non-grocery shopping.

I also have 962 items on my wishlist with Amazon.

To recap: $1320 burning a hole in my metaphorical pocket and 962 items that I have wanted at some time in the past, begging me to bring them home.

That’s a dilemma.

The smart answer is, of course, to let that money hide in Amazon’s system and slowly drain out to pay for the things I actually need.

The fun answer is to stock up on games and books and toys and gadgets and cameras and, and, and….

Some days, it’s hard being a responsible adult.

I think I’m going to compromise with myself. ¬†I’ll leave the vast majority of the money where it is, but I’ll spend a little bit of it on fun stuff, and a little bit more on stuff I don’t quite need, but would be useful, but not so useful that I’ve already bought it.

A new alarm clock to replace the one next to my bed that automatically adjusts for daylight savings time but was purchased before they changed the day daylight savings time hit so I have to adjust the time 4 times per year instead of never. ¬†That’s on the list of not-quite-needs.

The volume 2 book of paracord knots is on the list of wants that can’t possibly be considered a need, but it’s going to come home, anyway.

I figure, if I spend a couple of hundred dollars on things I really, really want, I’ll scratch that itch and leave most of the money alone.

What would you do with a $1300 gift card at a store you shop at every week that sells every conceivable thing?  Spend it right away, or stretch it out, or something else?

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Discount Gift Cards: How Much Can You Save?

Assortment of gift cards

Assortment of gift cards (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you know where you shop regularly?

Would you be happy if the things you bought there were suddenly, magically discounted?

It could happen.

I don’t think the game store down the road is suddenly going to institute a “Jason Rocks” discount program, but some of the bigger chains I visit have an unofficial option that can save you money, and it’s not a five-finger discount.

You can buy discounted gift cards.   You can find a gift card exchange being run on a number of websites.  How does it work?

There are two kinds of card exchange.

The first simply connects buyers and sellers. ¬† ¬†If you want to buy a gift card, you browse the list of available cards until you find something you like. ¬† You place your order with the exchange, who then take a fee and pass the rest of the payment to the seller, who’s got the job of sending it to you. ¬† When you get the card, you get to find out if the balance still exists or if it’s going to expire in the morning. ¬† Most people don’t sell a lot of gift cards, so their reputation isn’t really at stake. ¬†Avoid these, unless you like gambling.

The second kind of exchange actually buys the cards from the sellers and verifies the balance and expiration date before posting them for sale. ¬† When you go shopping, you’re dealing with a company that is putting its reputation–both with its customers and its bank–on the line. ¬†If there’s a problem, you’ve got someone to contact who probably isn’t going to vanish.

You visit the site, find a business you want to visit, and buy a card at a discount. ¬† The discount ranges from around 3% up to around 30%, with most discounts hovering around 10%. ¬† ¬†That means–depending on the store–you can get a $100 gift card for $90. ¬† Not a bad deal, especially if it for a store you’d be visiting anyway.

Have you ever bought a second-hand gift card?  How did it work for you?

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