Ever lost a gift card? Or forgotten to use a GroupOn or LivingSocial daily deal? You’re not alone. According to the Wall Street Journal, $41 billion in gift cards went unused between 2005 and 2011. (For context, $41 billion is almost two times Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s entire net worth or the annual budget of the Commonwealth of Virginia!) And, those daily deals we buy hand over fist for yoga classes, pomegranate martinis, guitar lessons and pedicures? Research suggests at least 20 percent go unused.
The numbers are staggering. The money wasted, a crime.
The challenge is to ensure no gift card, rebate or deal goes unused. The solution is surprisingly simple – you tie it to your calendar. Allow me to explain.
The very first thing you should ask yourself when you receive a gift card or buy a daily deal is: When am I going to use this? If you can pinpoint the day, schedule it immediately into your calendar and store the gift card, receipt, etc. wherever you keep the rest of your money – presumably your wallet or purse. If you don’t have enough space, or would prefer not to carry them around, give the cards and receipts a place of honor, like a little bank box that sits on your desk, your kitchen counter or chest of drawers – someplace easy to access and convenient to use. Gift cards and GroupOns are cash. You wouldn’t stick a $100 bill in a forgotten file, right? The same logic applies here.
New York Times bestselling author Julie Morgenstern is an organizing and time-management expert, business productivity consultant and speaker. Her company, Julie Morgenstern Enterprises, is dedicated to using her philosophies and methods to provide a wide range of practical solutions that transform the way people and companies function.