Is your wallet feeling a little fatter with some just-received gift cards by chance? Mine, too. It’s a sweet present since the giver’s making sure you get something you actually want, but there can be a little bit of stress with figuring out, “well, what the heck do I want?”
By far, the biggest mistake I see friends making when shopping with a gift card is that they’re looking for an item that’s just at that amount (or a little under). It’s limiting and much more likely to result in you picking a gift that you’re okay with, but don’t love. Your budget’s your budget, but don’t blind yourself to just seeing the amount stored on your gift certificate. Think about how much extra you could afford to spend and then allow yourself to check out items up to that price range. Just think about it: friends I’ve shop-counseled have realized they’re much happier knocking a chunk off that pair of shoes they’ve been eyeing than buying a random pair that they’re okay with, but wouldn’t have bought otherwise.
The other biggest tip is to avoid thinking of the gift card like free money, but your money. Shop the same way you would if you were using your own cash: check out the sale section, look for extra discount codes, or heck, even book an appointment with a free personal shopper and be up front, telling them how much you have on a gift card and that you’re looking for a wise way to spend it. I rounded up some of the very best end-of-year sales before the holiday and most are still going on. Rather than tucking your gift card way for a rainy day, see if there’s a majorly reduced item you could scoop up now.