Are you the kind of person that would be embarrassed to use the $2.04 left on a gift card? What about $1.13? If so, this is not right for you. By leaving value on the card, you're throwing good money (any any discount you get) in the trash.
Are you the kind of person that will not only use that $1.13 left over, but will use 4 cards with similar value? READ ON!
There are several websites out there that buy your unwanted gift cards and sell them for a price cheaper than the value. The one that springs to mind most readily is "Plastic Jungle".
Your general merchandisers like Target and Walmart offer a lower discount- 3%, as compared to 5% at a more specialized store like Best Buy. Some extremely specialized (ie, no one really wants them) cards offer 35% back!
In browsing the website, it should be no shock that Walmart gift cards seem to sell out first.
With the correct planning, you could save some serious money. Or you could waste a great deal. Which happens is up to you.
Let's say you plan to buy a new computer from Best Buy. By doing your research, you understand you will be spending $600 after taxes (because it's a nice round number and makes this easier..).
You could spend that $600 cash/check/debit, whatever and that's what you've spent. Period. Hopefully you have a Best Buy rewards card and you get a few points towards your cash out of a store voucher (for $5, $10, whatever). That's the end of the story.
Now let's say you think of Plastic Jungle. You check it out and see that a $50.00 gift card costs $47.50 (with free shipping). You quickly do some math and buy 12 cards, valued at $600 total.
What did you just spend for your new computer? $570. PLUS you earned the same amount of rewards points with your buyer's card. Not too bad, especially since that is money you had planned to spend anyway.
Now think how this could help out with daily expenses. If your budget for food is $100 and you know you'll spend $100 at Walmart, why not consider buying a giftcard? Even at only 35 savings, or $3 off your $100, that's $3! Especially if money is so tight it's squeaking, every bit helps. This is also helpful to couple with huge sales- like the PetSmart Friends and Family sales twice a year, or the Bath and Body Works end of the year sale- IF you normally purchase from those stores anyway.
However- are you willing to pull out a $25 or $50 gift card every time you make a purchase? Tim is forgetful and often uses his debit card automatically.
Are you willing to buy $75 worth of items and use the $2.42 you have left on that gift card? Because as you see- you're "only" saving $1.50 per $50 gift card if you buy Walmart or Target cards. If you don't use that $2.42, you've paid MORE for your cards.
Maybe this is an option you'd rather keep in your back pocket for those large purchases, like that computer I mentioned earlier- that's fine too! Maybe you want to use it only to purchase Christmas gifts, if you typically give cash or gift cards anyway- no problem!
No rule says you have to do anything you are uncomfortable with or use a money-saving idea every time you make a purchase. It's definitely food for thought though!
As always, start small and with what you can afford. If you convert your entire paycheck to Best Buy gift cards, that isn't going to help pay your rent.