Gift Cards and Easing Into New Year’s Resolutions

There’s a good chance you were on the receiving end of some gift cards this Christmas. With billions of dollars sold,  you need to make sure you actually redeem them. Over 8% aren’t ever used – great for the merchant to get the free money – not so good for you.

The best tip is to get a felt pen and write the amount on them. Then tape them on the fridge, put them in your wallet, or any place prominent so you won’t forget. Remember that you have an IOU and that’s only good as long as the store or chain is still in business. If it’s Tim’s or Walmart – not a rush. But, the smaller the store, the quicker you want to use them up.

If you don’t use the full amount, write what’s left on the card as well. If it’s down to very little, do what I do: Just hand it to the person behind you in line and tell them what’s left on the card. That way they can redeem it right then and there.

Today and tomorrow, it’s likely everybody will make their New Year’s resolutions. But studies keep showing half of them are toast by the middle of January. News flash: You won’t run a marathon this summer, lose 60 pounds by April, or become debt free next Tuesday.

So perhaps you can resist the pressure to set New Year’s resolutions that are destined to fail. How about you do a two-month test drive on some smaller ones? If they’re specific, in writing, measurable and short-term, there’s a much better chance you’ll keep them.

Want to save some money? How about just taking the $200 or whatever you want to save each month and taking it right out of your ATM the 1st of January? Put it under your mattress or wherever. Do it for two months and you’ll see that you really won’t miss it. Good chance you’ll keep that two month trial going….

Can you take your smallest debt, perhaps one of your credit cards, and pay it off by March 31st? It’s the smallest, so no need to freak out or sell everything on Kajijji. If that worked out – great! That bill is now gone – permanently. Since your subconscious mind now knows you can do this, take the next smallest. It might take three or six months, but it’s just one debt, just one payment – you know you can do this, too.

Want to save some serious money for the next two months? Can you avoid restaurants or bars for 60 days? Of course you can – but will you? We average $190 on those each month. There’s around $400 or more by figuring out how stuff in your fridge turns into food, instead of having others make that happen for you.

Test drive some small ideas for two month. It takes 21 days to form a new habit. 60 days is long enough to see if you’ll stick to it for longer. No pressure…it’s just you and your money, debts, and disposable income. Happy New Year!

PS: Just saw a great Facebook post: I’m opening a gym called “resolutions.” It’ll have fitness equipment for the first two weeks and then it’ll turn into a bar for the rest of the year.




Wishful thinking versus goal setting. One is a hope and a dream that someday, something will change. Goal setting is in writing, specific and measurable.

I love my GPS. I travel a lot and can’t imagine life without it. But I can punch in all the destinations in the world, it won’t work if I don’t first know where I’m at! That’s the same with your financial goals.


If you’re not willing to take the 20 minutes to write down…don’t bother – you’ll just be staying in “hope” land. It would be kind of like firing a gun into the air and hoping a duck will run into its path.

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