So Santa C. left you a gift card in the stocking. Some consider it a hollow gift that displays no forethought — but we do not subscribe to the particular vein of thinking: we love gift cards. What they really are is someone giving you exactly what you wanted, just on a sort of time delay, and allowing you to do the mini shopping-spree yourself. We consider it a happy time that comes just after birthdays and holidays.
There is a danger with the gift card, however — happy trigger finger syndrome. It’s that feeling you get the day after receiving the card that has you standing at the gates of whatever store is on the glossy front of the card and ready to spend it. There are two paths to wise gift card spending.
The first is to save the card for emergencies and cash it it when you really need it, sort of like a project parachute that can be deployed at times of great need. This is, however, the least satisfying method of spending for many and often not high on anybody’s list.
Instead of just buying your way out of trouble, one might opt for the second method of wise spending: the educated, tactical strike. Careful product research teamed with patient waiting for that perfect deal — then, like a coiled consumer-cobra, you strike all at once and obtain the perfect tool at low cost to the amazement of your friends and family.
Both those methods are smart plays — Confucius himself couldn’t find fault with those spending plans. You and I both know it’s more fun to run to the store and lay down gifted plastic plus a little extra to get something we’ve been eyeing but hesitant to bring home. Resist the urge: try to hold out.
I’m about 50/50 on that myself.