A Regular Account Vs Tracking Account Vs Keeping Track in You Mind

Good afternoon fellow YNABers,

 

I am hoping that by sharing how I do a couple of things that I will either get some ideas how to change it up or tweak it or confirmation that I am doing it right. Seems that I am always getting ideas from reading posts here.

I am on SSDI and get on check at the first of the month. Now I also, I would not call them side hustles as they are not steady, but I do some side work, at UpWork.com , for hire repair and building computers in the community, I also fill out survey's. From these I get funds in a variety of ways and that has led to my quandary. When I get cash or a check from a computer build/repair, I deposit it into my checking account and move the funds “TO BE BUDGETED” and assign them a job, that is easy. Upwork, the funds go into my PayPal account and depending on the amount either stays in there for E-Bay or other purchases, or for larger jobs is transferred to my checking account and treated as above. Now on computer builds, a lot of times for the parts there are rebates on the parts and I just factor that into the price, so the customer does not have to deal with sending the paperwork in and waiting for the gift card to come back. Generally, I just use those in my budget for gas money that month and switch that money to something else.

It is the surveys that are sort of throwing a monkey wrench into things. Generally, the payoff is e-gift cards, Amazon, Regal Theaters, Barnes and Noble to name a few. These have value, but I can’t see putting them into the budget, although I guess if I had a Chili’s I could take some strain of my dining out category, but it is not like the funds are transferable between stores. What I do is make each a store a separate tracking account. Then say I buy a Kindle book, I just enter the transaction in the tracking account, there has only every been one transaction that required funds from my checking as I did not have enough gift cards, but that was a pricey video card for the computer that went on sale so I jumped on it.

Can any one see a better way of doing it? Using YNAB allows me to keep everything in one place, instead of balances on an Excel spreadsheet or something, for physical gift cards I used to write the running balance on the card with a sharpie.

Thank you,

Chris

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  • This is one of those topics that you have to experiment and figure out what works best for you. I have 6 gift cards listed as individual cash-type on-budget accounts: one gas station, three different grocery stores, my favourite drive-thru coffee place, and a misc gift card account for the one-offs.  The first five are for specific stores and have fairly largish revolving balances on them. I regularly replace the cards for the same stores as part of a fundraiser for sports activities for my sister's kids. Early on I decided to track every grocery purchase to the penny rather than record a $100 grocery purchase when I bought the card.  I record a transfer from my chequing account to the appropriate gift card account when I buy it, and YNAB helps me know how much is left on a card before I go shopping at that store.

    The one exception is the miscellaneous one. When I get a little gift card as a rebate or in payment for participating in a survey, a gift of a restaurant card, I track the value in the misc gift card account, and I do this so that I don't have to do mental math any more. These are typically little amounts. I could probably just enter them as a cash inflow to my wallet, but it's the left over few dollars that drive me batty. The number of times I've lost track of the value on a gift card in my wallet..., but I digress.  When the  misc gift card gets to zero, I just close the account. When I get another one of these unexpected small or one-off cards, I reopen the account.

    I have read other YNABers'  posts where they put all their gift cards in the one account, but that wouldn't work for me with my multiple repetitive cards.

    Reply Like
    • HappyDance I tried having them as cash accounts but got frustrated when it came to rolling with the punches, because when I would look for funds to move there would be $35.00 in say the movie category but it was all gift cards, so it was not "real" money. $20 could only be used at AMC, and $15 at Regal. 

      Of course that was in the beginning, I don't have as many punches these days. My age of money is not where I would want, but I don't think I will every get it there unless I win the lottery and to do that I would actually have to buy a ticket. :-D  

      Reply Like
  • I have one gift card account (on budget) for all gift cards. I get Amazon gift cards every month from a survey site and treat them as income and budget them like any other income. So the $10 I got on Jan 12 for Amazon got budgeted to New Dining Room Chairs even though I bought the chairs last weekend from IKEA. I treat all funds as 100% fungible. But I think the fact that even after Christmas when my gift card account tends to be at its highest at 3-digits, it is maybe only 0.5% of my on budget cash is why it is NBD for me to really embrace the one big pot approach.

    Reply Like
    • jenmas How do you handle the gift cards and Rule #1? That is what I had the biggest trouble with when I had the cards as money accounts, well that and Rule #3 and the fact those were not "real" money, in that they could only be used at Ikea or Amazon. 

      Reply Like
      • WordTenor
      • Arranged the menu, the venue, the seating.
      • WordTenor
      • 1 yr ago
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      Ruff16965 (05bd62cee897) It's another one of those magic YNAB moves. Your gft card can only be used at one place but that's actually no different than showing up at a cash-only food truck. You wouldn't say that just because the food truck accepts only cash that suddenly you don't have all the money in your other accounts--you have that money, but right now, only one type of account can be used at this merchant. The gift card is a vechicle for spending some of the money in your budget, but the overall amount in your budget stays the same. So you can inflow gift cards as TBB and spend them wherever you'd like. 

      Reply Like 1
      • HappyDance
      • YNABing consistently since 2014
      • HappyDance
      • 1 yr ago
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      Ruff16965 (05bd62cee897) 

      I do see your struggle. There is a conceptual leap in YNAB where we learn to stop caring where the funds are located, and we stop tying specific categories to specific bank accounts. Where does my emergency fund live? Wherever I need it to be when I want it.  I have no trouble seeing gift cards, even with their limited liquidity, as being part of the same concept. I am in a position of considering them part of the whole amount I have available to spend. Because of the cash balance in my accounts, I am no longer inconvenienced by the fact that a card can only be spent in one establishment.  I frequently have more in my grocery gift card account than I budget and spend on food in a month.

      I can still WAM the entire $25 out of eating out to car maintenance even though I can't spend the  $25 restaurant gift card at the mechanic's shop. The card simply remains in my wallet with my unspent $20s  until I have funds in my eating out category again and until I go to the establishment where I can use the card. This works because I don't spend every dollar I have available in my budget and don't foresee needing to ever.

      Clearly, this notion of fungibility cannot work for someone at a different point on their financial journey, perhaps budgeting so close to the zero that their illiquid asset is all that is left to use. This could easily be the case for a beginner budgeter. Having a $25 restaurant card when you need to repair a flat tire will look different if you have six months of income in your accounts versus if you are down to zero with only the gift card left in your wallet. Perhaps, for people in that situation. temporarily revising the category name to display the amount that cannot be moved would contain this problem. i.e.  Eating Out ($25 gc)  Then after the gift card is spent, revising the name to remove the warning.

      Eventually, in using the YNAB methodology, your account balances increase, and this is no longer an issue. I rarely WAM anymore. After the first few months, I had a very good sense of what I spend on essentials, what I have to set aside for true expenses, what I want for hitting savings goals, and what I am willing to let myself spend on wants. I like to keep a small WAM reserve in my reimbursable category for the minor overspends.

      Reply Like 2
    • WordTenor What I heard in one of the classes once, that would handle the food truck analogy is that that money was in the budget, say as Spending Cash when it is taken out it is accounted for and could be spent however.

      @happydance I do see what you are saying, and conceptual leaps are something that I have struggled with my entire life, to the point I may be taking some testing on how I think and process things soon. I guess since I am sitting at the computer that I will transfer the accounts over and trust the wisdom of the crowd and see how that goes.

       

      I guess on benefit on adding the gift cards in it will change my Age of Money as some of the cards are 60+ days old.

      Reply Like
      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 1 yr ago
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      Ruff16965 (05bd62cee897) I think that others have done a great job of explaining the fungibility of it all. I quite like WordTenor 's food truck analogy. Right now my gift card account has 2 gift cards in it - one from Amazon and one from Sephora. This account currently represents 0.5% of all of my on-budget cash (including the balances on my credit card so it's actually an even smaller percentage of my cash) so it really is a negligible amount for me. In fact, I can't go spend that gift card at Sephora right now, because I don't have enough in my Personal Care category. I got the gift card as a payout from eBates, and when I added it to my budget, I allocated the income to a wedding gift that I want to buy for some friends. This works for me because when I do finally go to Sephora (when I do the March budget, I'll allocate enough to equal the gift card and I'm not in a super rush), I will hand them the gift card and not my credit card. So (in my mind), that frees up funds in my checking account to be spent on a wedding gift (I'm giving them a check) rather than having to go to pay my monthly statement on my credit card. But as HappyDance mentioned, if your budget is tight, you probably don't have the flexibility to think like this.  

      Reply Like 1
    • jenmas My fixed income is a little more than $1000 a month. Depending on surveys and payouts  and spending, I could have half that in gift-cards at any one time. So especially at the end of the month, besides my emergency funds,  and set asides, for things like YNAB, Microsoft Office, insurance and such, there is not a lot in say "Stuff Not Budgeted For" category.

      Reply Like
    • WordTenor I budget the gift cards into a category to get it out of TBB, then when I spend the gift card I transfer the money from one category to the category I spent it in.  You could also just spend it against that category if you wanted.

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      • WordTenor
      • Arranged the menu, the venue, the seating.
      • WordTenor
      • 1 yr ago
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      jermany189 the crazy extension of that is that you don't have to budget the money to a category for the gift cards at all. You're halfway there with moving the money to another category once it's spent. You can actually skip the intermediate step. Bring the gift card on budget, then budget the money where you need it most. 

      Reply Like 1
    • WordTenor Well I COULD skip it, but that's not money that I have (I'm talking store specific gift cards here, not Visa's). Let's say you have a Buffalo Wild Wings gift card that you bring on budget. It's $50 and you budget it to dining out, obviously. Well, this month you took a road trip, and you ended up going over you fuel budget. You take a look at all of your categories and think, "How am I going to cover this overspending? Hey! My dining out category has $50 in it, let's take $30 of that and put it towards gas. I don't need to spend $50 on dining out this month." 

      You just assigned money you didn't have to fuel. Now, if you are going to spend those gift cards quickly and you'll remember not to flub that up, great! But I think you're playing a dangerous game assigning gift cards before they're spent.

      Reply Like 1
      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 1 yr ago
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      jermany189 But I do have that $50. Because I will be using money on a gift card when I go to Buffalo Wild Wings, that's $50 that's not going to come out of my checking account. It matters on if your budget is tight, but if you have slack in your budget, you really can treat all funds as 100% fungible. I am going to receive a $10 Amazon gift card today from a survey site and my plan is to budget that $10 to Parking/Transpo because I need another $11.45 on my SmarTrip card to get me through the end of the month on my commute because I miscounted the # of days I was going to take the Metro vs the MARC train to work when I budgeted at the beginning of the month. I'll pull the other $1.45 from some other category that I haven't decided on yet.

      Reply Like 1
    • jenmas Sure, if it works for you, that's great, but it's not going to work for everyone, especially those with a tight budget.  Let's say I only have $15 to my name, and $10 of that is the gift card.  I can't just put that $10 towards new shoes, because that $10 isn't just spendable anywhere, it's tied to that merchant, I've only got $5 for shoes.  So I spend the money and I try to cover my spending, but it's impossible for that to happen.  If you're giving every single dollar a job, which is one of the rules of YNAB, you have to give them jobs that are capable of doing.  Whatever works for you and your budget is the only real rule for YNAB, but as far as the "correct" way of doing it, you can't treat a $10 gift card from a restaurant as budgetable money for parking.

      Reply Like 1
      • WordTenor
      • Arranged the menu, the venue, the seating.
      • WordTenor
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      jermany189 Yes, if the gift cards exceed your account balances, then it doesn't work. But the moment your finances tip the other way, it does. And for most folks using the YNAB method and saving for true expenses, your cash balances are going to outweigh gift cards pretty fast.  I remember that my true expense savings let me cover a $10 overspend within 20 days of starting YNAB with $7 in checking. It goes fast.

      Budgeting gift cards from TBB isn't an incorrect way of using YNAB at all; it's actually the pinnacle of spending from your category balances and ignoring the location of the money. 

      Reply Like
    • WordTenor Think about it this way.  I have a $5 dollar gift card and a $10 cash balance.  Now can I go spend $12 on shoes?  No, I can't.  

      "it's actually the pinnacle of spending from your category balances and ignoring the location of the money. "

      It's not the location of the money, this money is, for practical purposes, already spent.  It's not your money out, and you can't ignore the location because you cannot transfer the money out of these accounts.  It's stuck.  It can't be assigned another job, it's already been given a job, to pay for food or clothes or whatever at whatever merchant you've bought the gift card for.  You can't give a dollar a job if you've locked into another job.

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      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 1 yr ago
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      jermany189 The original question was "how do you approach this situation?" which I answered while adding the caveat that this works for me because my Gift Card Account is 0.5% of my on budget funds. I have reiterated this point through this thread. Also, I am not budgeting that Amazon gift card to Transpo per se. I am simply saying that the next time I buy something at Amazon, I'll be paying with a gift card instead of a credit card (that will ultimately be paid from my checking account), so that frees up $10 in my checking account to go to my commute.

      Reply Like 1
    • jenmas Listen, while I think your way is incorrect, I never responded to you until you addressed me directly.  If you look at my comment, it was addressed to WordTenor, so don't get in a huffy because I didn't read your "reiterations" of your argument.  I said "if it works for you, that's great, but it's not going to work for everyone" when you did respond to me directly.  I even said that "whatever works for you and your budget is the only real rule for YNAB", so I'm really not sure why you're complaining to me about you "reiterating a point" through the read.

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      • WordTenor
      • Arranged the menu, the venue, the seating.
      • WordTenor
      • 1 yr ago
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      jermany189 jenmas and I are both pointing out that we understand your confusion here. I get why it's hard to see how this works if your budget is tight. You can't do this if gift cards exceed your cash balances as in the two examples you've given. But you can if they do. And when they are an infinitesimally small part of your budget it *really* doesn't matter. The conceptual leap here is VERY large, I agree. It's much larger than the one required to see that, say, your buffer doesn't need to live in checking (which is another one new YNAB users struggle with).

      You'll get it at some point. It will click and you'll go "Oh this is what they meant!" In the meantime, you may continue to think we're crazypants. 

      Reply Like 2
    • WordTenor Reread my second example, the gift card does not exceed cash balances.  This is not a misunderstanding on my part, it's two different ways to approach the same problem.  I do think you're crazy pants, because you can't assign money to a job when the job is already pre-assigned.  I can't use the $25 from the restaurant to go fix a flat tire.  It's really simple to understand that.  When it's cash, whether in your savings or in a checking account or in your wallet, that's different, because those dollars are capable of doing whatever job you want them to do, but you can't say the same for a gift card from Outback.

      Reply Like
    • WordTenor Replying instead of editing in case you're already reading.  Think of YNAB as a bunch of envelopes.  If I've got the $25 gift card in the dining out envelope, that makes sense.  But if I remove that gift card from the dining out envelope and put it in auto maintenance, what good does that do me?  Absolutely none.  What's to prevent you from doing that in YNAB?  You can't see that it's a gift card when you're simply looking at the numbers. 

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  • If you have enough in savings type categories that you don't have to worry so much about liquidity then you could just budget normally and not worry about the fact that the gift card money is available only at certain places.  Unfortunately I am so close to the bone all the time that it was either not track the gift cards at all or figure out a way to do it accurately.  What I settled on that seems to be working is that I have one account I call Gift Card Wallet and a category group called Gift Cards with sub categories for each individual card type.  When I receive a card the funds are budgeted in to the appropriate subcategory.  Because I want my spending reports to be accurate I record spending in the appropriate spending category and then just WAM that amount from the gift card category that I used.  I occasionally reconcile my gift cards by checking all their balances and also when I am done entering and WAMing the Gift Card Wallet account balance equals the total of the Gift Card category group. 

    Reply Like 3
  • This has been an interesting discussion between those still seeing their funds as literal and those who have transitioned to seeing their cash, account balances, and gift cards as totally interchangeable or fungible.

    Let's say you won a prize at the grocery store, and it was a $5,000 gift card from their "groceries for a year" sweepstakes. WooHoo!  Pick me!  How do you view that windfall of $5,000? How do you enter it in your budget?

    Someone new to budgeting and with limited cash flow might see the entire $5,000 as grocery store only, and be convinced the entire inflow amount must be budgeted to the food category. They would do this in order to not make a mistake and overspend any other category resulting in overdrafting the bank account.  Seen from this perspective of limited liquidity, they would not be wrong.  In this scenario it would be impossible to use the $5,000 today to buy anything that isn't sold at the grocery store.

    Someone with six months of income sitting in their bank accounts from building up true expenses, emergency funds, savings for their next car purchase, etc. could simply assign the value of $5,000 to their vacation fund. They could even spend $5,000 on airline tickets the same day and be entirely confident in the knowledge that their account liquidity can handle it. They would add a new $5,000 account and inflow, budget as they choose, and the amount they budget to groceries every month would not change.

    Reply Like 3
      • WordTenor
      • Arranged the menu, the venue, the seating.
      • WordTenor
      • 1 yr ago
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      HappyDance exactly. There are two parts to the situation--the liquidity and the fungibility. I always want to talk about fungibility, because it ultimately opens up such huge doors in managing money. My financial planner says I am her easiest-to-work with client because when she suggests we use pot of money A for purpose B because of tax implications, investment growth implications, etc. I just do it.  I'm never using money that would be better not spent, or keeping money saved in a bad vehicle just because I think of "This account is where my money for xyz thing is." We just move money around. Because money is money.  It ultimately means that I'm squeezing the most value out of every dollar I have. 

       It's a really valuable leap to make, if you can make it, because it affects more than just gift cards and checking accounts--it drives at the core of money management. My goal, if I didn't have the liquidity to make this work would be to get that liquidity as soon as I could by saving. 

      Reply Like 3
    • HappyDance I would see the $5000 as freeing up the money I usually budget towards groceries until spent. If I won, I would funnel it in to building up my Rainy Day, Auto Repair fund and finsh paying off the back child support. At my current spending levels, that 5K would actully last me almost 2 years, so pretty fast the child support would be taken care of, the funds would be where I want them and I would think about maybe going 30% beyond where I plan to now with them.

      Reply Like 1
      • HappyDance
      • YNABing consistently since 2014
      • HappyDance
      • 1 yr ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Ruff16965 (05bd62cee897) 

      Yes.  Me too.  I have now reached the point where the liquidity in my accounts allows me to cashflow plan out much, much further than a single month.  That is why a specific gift card can be seen as cash, and why a new $25 restaurant card can be seen as value only and budgeted to car maintenance. I know I will eventually use the $25 at a restaurant and don't need to protect myself from overdraft.

      While the dramatic example of a $5,000 gift card represents some iliquidity issues, I have sufficient time built into my accounts that I could manage wile only spending a little time thinking about account balances to do so.  Although, I have to say that if I personally received such a windfall today, I would probably not go out and immediately spend $5,000 on something. That would reduce my cash liquidity too low for my current comfort level.  But I know that I would probably have no issues budgeting the 5K to longer-term categories in my budget, things like next car, replacement furnishings, next computer, Christmas, income replacement and the like.

      Reply Like 2
    • HappyDance Unfortunately I don't, and unless I win the lottery or knock off an armored car, will never see the liquidity. I am stable for the first time every, I wish I had discovered YNAB 30 years ago when I was 21, it would of changed my life and outlook on things. It has changed my outlook and is making shifts in my life as I clean things up.

      Reply Like
  • The gift card discussion is a variation of the more general topic of liquidity concerns.  I have some T-Bills at Treasury Direct that are part of my budget.  I can't spend that money on *anything* until they mature, but that's okay because I know I won't need to spend that much before the maturity dates. 

    YNAB doesn't give us any tools to manage account-specific liquidity.  It's up to the user to figure out how to have enough in checking to cover bills that are paid by checking, credit card payments, and cash withdrawals that are needed.  The rather lame advice I've seen given semi-officially is to only have one account; that may work for someone starting to budget with very little money, but it's a poor solution for someone who has budgeted successfully for a year, is a month ahead on budgeting everything, and has some substantial True Expense categories. 

    The specific hypothetical example of a $5,000 gift card for "groceries for a year" makes me think about a slightly different issue:  Suppose I won that card, and it's for Wegman's.  Is it really "for a year?"  By this I mean, does it expire after 12 months?  If so, I have a problem because my Groceries:Food budget is only $300 per month, or $3600 for a year.  Typically, it's not all spent at Wegman's because I can get better prices or products I like better elsewhere for part of the budget.

    The rational gift card winner in my position would be looking for a way to get something of value out of the entire $5,000, even if it meant buying something that might otherwise be delayed or never purchased.  At a minimum, I would pay more for items at Wegman's to use up the gift card that might otherwise expire.  My grocery budget becomes a little distorted for that year, and perhaps I buy some non-food stuff at Wegman's that I normally would not buy there.   How to handle this situation in the budget is a puzzle, because I'm effectively dealing with money that is not perfectly fungible.  I'm willing to pay more for something purchased with that less-than-perfectly-fungible money than I am for the same thing purchased with ordinary, fully fungible money.

    As long as there is no expiration date on the card, that issue does not arise; but the "groceries for a year" tag got me thinking about what a corporation might do to be able to advertise a greater value of a prize than what it costs to provide that prize.  And if I'm sitting there with an extremely tight budget and a bunch of money tied up in restaurant gift cards, I might decide to eat out and spend more of the not-totally-fungible gift cards instead of buying groceries for less of my totally fungible cash.  Again, this is a budgeting puzzle because the form of payment affects what I choose to buy and what price I am willing to pay.

    Reply Like 3
      • HappyDance
      • YNABing consistently since 2014
      • HappyDance
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Patzer 

      The groceries for a year example was a sweepstakes campaign I specifically remember. The slogan was 'groceries for a year' but the specific prize details (which are mandated by law here) was a $5,000 gift card for use at their chain of stores. In my province, the consumer laws governing gift cards provides that there is no expiry on the cards, nor can administrative fees be siphoned off, so it was a full $5,000 for the winner to spend at that store until the card ran out. I put my name on an entry slip every time I shopped at that store. Unfortunately, I did not win. 🙁 I haven't seen another such campaign.

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      • Patzer
      • Retired at age 60. Thank you, YNAB!
      • Patzer
      • 1 yr ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      HappyDance 

      Under those conditions, I'd be just like you.  Put $5000 as an inflow, record it to a Gift Card account, treat my budget just as I always do and simply use that card where it is accepted for anything I buy there.  But I did appreciate the theoretical exercise of considering how fringe conditions would affect my budgeting and spending behavior.

      In general, I don't like merchant gift cards because of the fungibility issues.  I have bought them for places I was spending regularly, because some promotion made it worth while; but absent something like a free meal at a restaurant I frequent in return for buying a gift card, I won't do it.  If I get a gift card as a one-off, I just deal with it as best I can. 

      Extreme example, not going to happen, if someone gave me a gift card for Lane Bryant I'd see if I could sell it.  (Lane Bryant is a seller of plus sized women's clothing.  I am a medium sized man.)  If I could not conveniently sell it, I'd look at whether I could conveniently donate it to some charity that would get a benefit.

      Reply Like 2
      • WordTenor
      • Arranged the menu, the venue, the seating.
      • WordTenor
      • 1 yr ago
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      Patzer Imagining you shopping at Lane Bryant is a really excellent Valentine. Thank you! 😂

      Reply Like 1
      • HappyDance
      • YNABing consistently since 2014
      • HappyDance
      • 1 yr ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Patzer 

      I have been a heavy user of pre-paid store-branded gift cards for different reasons along my budget journey.  The disorganized, indebted, financially desperate me used gift cards to carve out the funds for essentials.  When I got paid, I immediately bought a $100 grocery store card and a $50 gas card. After I got my financial act together and started working with a budget, I was able to transition to cash. I then kept a card or two for emergencies only: a $100 grocery card in my spice cupboard, a $50 gas card in my wallet, both intended to cover me if I was out of cash for some reason. I gave them to someone one day and didn't bother to replace them.

      More recently, philanthropist me -- My! doesn't that sound grand! -- uses buying cards as a way to support a fundraiser for organized sports for  my sister's kids.  I deliberately restrict myself to the stores and gas station I always use. I do not receive a reduction or a deal of any kind -- a $100 card costs me $100 --  but I do get the satisfaction of knowing the amount I would have purchased anyway in cash is helping my sister in some small way when the stores and restaurants pay a percentage to the sports team, that percentage being less than what they would pay to the cc company for processing a transaction.

      There is also a sense of accomplishment in being able to pre-purchase these staples because I know just how far I have traveled financially to be in this position to be able to do that.

      Reply Like 4
    • HappyDance My Ex-wife and used to buy gift cards when we were flush, movies, Barnes and Nobles, Starbucks, I looked at it as a variation of filling the pantry that I learned from my mom growing up and still us to this day. As an Army wife, there were times after moves or when times were tight that she would only have to buy eggs, bread and milk for a couple of months and we could live off what was in the pantry. 

      Funny story about the Barnes and Noble gift cards, I was complaining to a friend that my favorite author had just came out with a new book and I did not get my check for a couple of weeks. When I logged into my BN.com account, I had over $100.00 in gift cards that I had banked on their and just forgot about because I was not buying books.

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