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Spring Cleaning? Find Your Gift Cards!

Spring Cleaning? Find Your Gift Cards! 8553 6048 admin

The annual “spring cleaning” ritual dates back to ancient times, but in America it became popular in the 19th century. Prior to the advent of the vacuum cleaner, March was often the best time for dusting because it was getting warm enough to open windows and doors (but not warm enough for insects to be a problem), and the high winds could carry the dust out of the house. This time of year is also when coal furnaces wouldn’t run and you could wash all the soot from the walls and furniture left by the furnace. For the same reason, modern rural households often use the month of March for cleaning projects involving the use of chemical products which generate fumes.

In addition to this household deep cleanse, many experts recommend organizing the household as part of spring cleaning.  It’s a great way to uncover the unused gift cards you may have stuffed in drawers or the back of cabinets.

“Summer is more fun when you’re organized!  So, fling into Spring,” says Amy Fisher, a.k.a. Ms. Efficiency. “One tip – keep your gift cards (and coupons) in a colorful plastic envelope that can be tucked into the side door of your car or in the glove compartment. That way you’ll always have them when you need them!”

In fact, organizing is an essential component of spring cleaning. As you go room-to-room with your vacuum, mop and dust cloth, focus on going through your closets and drawers, and donate items you know you won’t use again, but other’s might find useful. You can even make it fun by inviting friends for a spring-cleaning swap! So channel your inner Marie Kondo and get ready to clean and stay organized.

Along the way, you’re likely to come across forgotten gift cards, because $3 billion in gift cards are going unspent each year in the U.S. Once you’ve re-discovered your gift cards, you have two choices: use them or organize them in a way that you will use them in the future, and not bury them again.

Early spring is a great time to use your gift cards because you can get winter items at rock-bottom prices in clearance sales. It’s also a perfect moment to refresh your wardrobe and add a few key pieces for spring.

If you choose to hold off on using your gift cards, make a plan for when and how you will use them in the future.  For example, if you know you’re going camping in June, make a note on your calendar to use your gift card when you stock up on gear in the weeks before you leave on your trip.

Did you find a dining gift card or one for a special experience? Consider which of your friends of family members has a birthday coming up and make a plan to use your gift card to celebrate.

The best part of spring cleaning is getting a fresh start. Make it a moment to take a fresh look at your gift cards too!

Winter Clearance Sales are Coming – Use Your Gift Cards!

Winter Clearance Sales are Coming – Use Your Gift Cards! 8553 6048 admin

The best thing about getting gift cards is using them. But it’s hard to know when is the “best” time to use them. Some people like to use them to treat themselves for a special occasion, others use them as a pick-me-up on an otherwise hum-drum day. However, for thrifty consumers, timing the use of gift cards strategically helps maximize their dollar amount.

According to the National Retail Federation, consumers planned to purchase three or four gift cards on average at an average $47 per card for a total of $27.5 billion this past holiday season.  Earlier research indicated that 42% of people who receive gift cards during the holiday season say they watch for a good sale or promotion to maximize the value of their gift cards.

Stores across the country hold their last call winter-clearance sales, such as Saks Off Fifth, Macy’s, Kohl’s, Express and rue21. It’s a great time to find rock bottom prices on merchandise that didn’t sell during post-holiday sales.  It’s also the perfect time to start thinking about donating the items in your closet that you didn’t wear last winter – or wore out and adding new items that you’ll enjoy next winter.

In addition to winter clearance clothes and accessories, other items that traditionally go on sale in March include:

  • air conditioners
  • washers and dryers
  • garden supplies
  • outdoor winter sports gear
  • luggage
  • china

There are other ways to be a smart sales shopper. Among the tips they offer online, Consumer Reports recommends these top savvy strategies:

  • “The Facebook pages and Twitter feeds of your favorite retailers are a great way to find out about deals and promotions. Also check their Instagram and Pinterest accounts. Retailers will often reward customers who like or follow them with special alerts to Cyber Monday discounts and incentives. And, of course, texts, tweets, and social media posts are an easy way to share shopping intel with your friends.”
  • “Sign up for loyalty programs. Stores often have loyalty programs that offer sales and promotions to their members first, then let them earn rewards on what they buy. Signing up for Cyber Monday shopping alerts will get you the early word on promotions, coupons, and discounts. In some cases, you can even find out whether the products you want are in stock or eligible to buy online and pick up at the store, which can save you on shipping.”
  • “If you’re using a retailer or shopping app, make sure it comes from one of the major app stores, such as the Apple App Store or Google Play. And follow these additional tips to make sure it’s not a fake app created by scammers.”


Once you’ve gotten the most bang for your gift card bucks, check around your drawers, wallets and car to see if you’ve forgotten one. With any luck, you’ll find a restaurant gift card you can use to celebrate all your savings!

Clocks Spring Ahead! Wake Up and Use the Extra Hour Wisely

Clocks Spring Ahead! Wake Up and Use the Extra Hour Wisely 8553 6048 admin

The second Sunday of March each year is more than just an average weekend day.  It’s the date that daylight savings time begins – and gives us an extra hour of time. One of the most popular things to do with that hour is sleep (more on that later).  However, the extra hour can be spent doing something that will reap even bigger rewards. Why not get up at your usual time and use the bonus sixty mintues to organize your gift cards?

Chances are, you’re one of the xx people who received a gift card over the holidays. What you don’t want to happen to those gift cards is to have them become part of the $3 billion in gift cards that go unspent each year in the U.S.

Once you’ve had your coffee and breakfast, go on a gift card treasure hunt around the house. Look in all the drawers, desks, files, wallets, purses and gym bags for gift cards you may have forgotten about.  Lay them out on a table and grab your calendar and a permanent marker.

Schedule a “use on” date for each gift card, mark the date on the card, and make a notation to use that gift card on your calendar. It may be as simple as deciding to use a restaurant gift card to take a friend out on their birthday. Or, knowing that you will be near your favorite mall on a particular day.  Once you’ve made a plan to use your gift card, put them in a place where you’ll have them readily available. If you usually drive, your car’s glove compartment is a good option. Another great spot is in a see-through bag tacked to your front door.

Once you’ve gotten your gift cards together and organized and you still feel robbed of that extra hour of sleep, make sure you’re getting the best quality sleep on daylight savings night – and every night – by following these tips from psychotherapist  Jonathan Alpert, author of Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days.

1) Get Daily Exercise:  improved blood flow, which can be gained through aerobic exercise, increases your drive for sleep.

2)  Clear Your Mind:  Writing down your daily to-do list the night before helps eliminate the chronic worry that so often keeps people up at night.

3)  Relax and Get Ready:  Meditation and exercises for muscle relaxation have helped many of my patients quiet their minds to prepare for sleep.

Always getting a good night’s sleep will make forgoing that extra daylight savings time hour less important – use that hour to organize your gift cards!

Get Organized in 2020

Get Organized in 2020 8553 6048 admin

As is often the custom, many people make a New Year’s resolution to be more organized. As a professional organizer, I totally understand the desire to get organized.

There are so many benefits.


When you are organized, you know where your things are and where to put them back.

When you are organized, you save money. It’s true! You know what you have so you don’t spend money on things that are already in your closet, on your shelves, or in the cupboard. You can avoid buying duplicates. If you have gift cards, you know where they are and can easily access them when you’re ready to use them.

When you are organized, you have less stress at home. You may have stress at work or outside the home but once you get home, you can relax. If there is a mess, it’s easy to tidy up. If things are out of place, it’s no big deal to put them back where they belong because there is a place for everything, and everything is in its place.

How do you arrive at this state of organized bliss?

Decide on a Zone

Begin by deciding on an area or zone on which to focus. Typically, I ask clients to focus on the zone that is bothering them the most. For the purpose of this blog, let’s select the kitchen.

Start by setting your timer for a short period of time. Fifteen minutes to half an hour is probably a good amount of time to begin with. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself by thinking you have to start and finish the entire kitchen in a day.

Remove anything that doesn’t belong in the kitchen. Put these things in a bag or box to deal with when you’re finished for the day. You don’t want to take time out of your organizing session to figure out what to do with them or where to put these things as you find them.

Pick a zone within the zone. You may decide to begin by clearing off the counters, leaving only the things that support the function of the kitchen. Remember put the things that don’t belong in a bag or a box to be delivered when the timer goes off. It’s important to note that your kitchen counter may serve many different functions.

It is probably a food prep station and a place to keep small appliances like your coffee machine or toaster oven.  It may also be a drop zone for the mail. This is fine as long as you have a place to put the mail and that you have a plan for sorting it.

Work your way through the drawers, cupboards, and shelves one at a time. You’ll be amazed by how much you can do in 15 to 30 minutes when you focus on one small area at a time.

Small, incremental improvements are the easiest to maintain.

Inform the others

If you are part of a family, they will need a tour of what you have done and guidance so they can help you maintain the organization. Let them know that the kitchen counters are no longer the place to deposit backpacks, homework, toys or other odds and ends.

Maintain the kitchen before tackling your next zone.

Practice these skills mindfully and before long you’ll discover that putting things away is a habit, part of your routine.


Some chores go in cycles. Thinking about them this way can help you as you work towards being more organized. Chores like laundry and dishes are good examples.

For instance, you put the laundry in the washer, then the dryer (or hang the laundry to dry), fold the clothes and put them away or hang them in the closet and the cycle is complete.

Washing dishes has a similar cycle. You use the cooking tools and dishes, wash them or put them in the dishwasher, either dry them or remove the items from the dishwasher, and put them away.

Everything ends with putting things away.


Even the mail has a cycle. It comes into our home many times digitally. We read it and then we deal with it. We can delete the digital mail, let it sit in our inbox, file it digitally or print it. You know that more mail is going to come in every day. It is a good idea to keep the number of emails that linger in your inbox to a minimum.

Paper mail we can recycle, shred, or file.

Having a good user-friendly filing system is important.

I mentioned that quite often the kitchen counter is a collection spot for paper mail. It has always been that way for me and for many of my clients.

Have a basket in the kitchen in which to deposit paper mail. Make a date with yourself to go through the basket at least once a week. This will keep the basket from overflowing and will keep you current.

Gift Cards

Do you get gift cards in the mail? I have often sent gift cards to family members and I regularly come across them when helping my clients organize their papers. Letting gift cards linger in a basket or on a desk is wasting money.

Keep your gift cards together in a clear plastic envelope or a small baggie.

When you are making your shopping list double check this baggie or envelope to see if you have a gift card or a reward card from any of the stores at which you are planning to shop.

Take the gift card out of the baggie or envelope and put it either with your list or in your wallet so that you remember to use it.

Give yourself the gift of getting organized this year so that you save time, and money (use those gift cards) and reduce stress. Where and when will you start? Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions.

Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer®, Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®, Master Trainer and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia. Diane teaches busy people how to become organized and provides them with strategies and solutions for maintaining order in their lives. She specializes in residential and home-office organizing and in working with people affected by ADD, Hoarding, and chronic disorganization.

Why Using Gift Cards is a Love-ly Way to Keep Celebrating the Present

Why Using Gift Cards is a Love-ly Way to Keep Celebrating the Present 150 150 admin

If you haven’t used the gift cards you received as presents for the holidays in December, Valentine’s Day might be a good time to share the love – before you forget about your gift cards.

You probably were really excited to receive those gift cards. You’re not alone; according to the National Retail Federation, gift cards were at the top of the wish list for 59 percent of those surveyed this year.  Why don’t you celebrate the present by using it for Valentine’s Day?

You may be thinking that the person who gave you the gift card wanted you to get something that would make you happy. How can you regift it? Simple! You wouldn’t just slip the actual gift card in with your Valentine’s Day greeting card.  You can purchase something specialfor your Valentine, using the gift card. And, if it makes them happy – that will most certainly make you happy too, and therefore you are fulfilling the good wishes of the person who gave it to you in the first place. After all, it’s better to give than receive right?

Or, maybe you received a gift card for a restaurant or experience. Using that gift card for your Valentine’s Day celebration is a perfect use for it.  Gift cards for movies are especially good for your date night, even better if there’s a rom-com at the local cinema.

Even if you decide to hold onto your gift cards for another occasion, make sure you don’t forget about it. Over $3 billion of gift cards go unspent every year because they end up stuffed in drawers or in the back of wallets. Find a place in your home where you will see your gift card and be reminded to use it, like tacking it up by the door in a clear ziplock bag. Or, keep them in your car’s glove compartment where they’ll be handy when you go out shopping.

Whatever you do, don’t forget to celebrate the present of your gift card before it’s forgotten – and have a happy Valentine’s Day!

Lovable Ways to Use Gift Cards for Valentine’s Day Gifts

Lovable Ways to Use Gift Cards for Valentine’s Day Gifts 8553 6048 admin

February is a time of reckoning for the budgets many consumers “blew” buying holiday gifts.  Of course, it’s also when we celebrate Valentine’s Day, another big gift-giving event.  But there’s a great way to celebrate Valentine’s Day without breaking your budget any further: use your gift cards!

While actually re-gifting a gift card might not be in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, you can use your gift cards in more subtle, lovable ways.  Did you get a gift card for a restaurant or experience?  You can use it for your Valentine’s Day celebration.

Consider using the gift card you got for a store to purchase something for your Valentine, instead of for yourself.  Worried that the person who gave you the gift card will ask you what you bought? Just tell them you decided to “share the love.”  After all, they gave you the gift card to make you happy, and what would make you happier than the smile on your Valentine’s face when they open the gift you purchased with your gift card.

Perhaps you received a gift card to go to the movies.  Pick a romantic film and make it part of your Valentine’s date night.  Dinner and a movie are popular celebrations, so you may want to pick up your tickets in advance.

What about the gift cards you’ve received in years past for birthdays, graduations or other special events. If you’re like many people, you have a few stuffed in your drawers or in the back of your wallet.  In fact, over $3 billion worth of gift cards go unspent every year.  Now is a great time to see if you can find an unused gift card stashed away somewhere and then use it for a Valentine’s Day gift or celebration.

If you have any gift cards left over after putting them to good use for Valentine’s Day, make sure that you don’t forget about them for the rest of the year.  As a gift to yourself, create a system to keep your gift cards handy so you remember to use them.  Putting them in a ziplock back and keeping them in your car’s glove compartment is one simple solution to always have them accessible when you’re out and about.  Or check out these other easy means to always remember to USE YOUR GIFT CARD.

Gift Cards Don’t Expire – Or Do They? A Recipe to Use it or Lose It

Gift Cards Don’t Expire – Or Do They? A Recipe to Use it or Lose It 8553 6048 admin

Using a gift card is easy. Waiting to use it may make it harder.  Why?  While there are a few federal  rules about gift card expiration, most vary from state to state.

Curious about what the law says about gift card expiration? If you like to read lots of legalese, visit the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)  website.  It explains in detail the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (a.k.a. Credit CARD Act).

In short, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, “the CARD Act sets consumer protections for gift cards based on many state laws.” Bottom line?  The law provides that gift cards cannot expire within five years from the date they were activated.  However, the federal regulations give states a lot of wiggle room to make their rules for gift card expiration.

To be on the safe side, when you receive a gift card, do your best to use it within a year. That calls for a little advance planning.  For example, if you got a gift card for a friend or family member’s favorite restaurants, you can make a reservation to treat them on their birthday.  A gift card for a clothing brand? Check your closet and decide which seasonal outfits will need a refresh and put a future shopping date on your calendar.  If you’re planning a vacation, think about which of your gift cards would be helpful to have on your trip and store them in your suitcase.

For the electronically savvy, there are many to-do-list apps available that are perfect for keeping track of your gift cards.  Or, take a picture of each of your gift cards (front and back), and create a separate album in your smart phone Photos. Online retailers only require the card number and PIN and some retailers will accept a photo instead of the physical card.

But,  if you’ve just unearthed an old gift card that you stashed in the back of your wallet or buried in a drawer, your first step will be to google your state’s regulation.  For example, in Florida, gift cards have no expiration dates and no fees, but that does not cover promotional cards, or cards issued by financial institutions and usable at multiple unaffiliated merchants.

On the other hand, New York states that expiration dates and any fees that will be charged along with other terms and conditions must be clearly and conspicuously stated on the card, package, or accompanying printed document.

If you have a question about your state’s rules on gift card expiration, you can do a simple search online.  Even better, call the number on the back of your gift card – or contact the merchant directly – and ask whether there is a usable balance on your gift card.

Better still, remember to use your gift card BEFORE it gets lost or forgotten.  Whether your state has a “use it or lose it” law on the books, you can be sure that when it comes to gift cards, if you lose it, you’ll definitely not be able to use it.

It Feels Good to Give When You Receive – Chatting with the Gift Card Girlfriend, Shelley Hunter

It Feels Good to Give When You Receive – Chatting with the Gift Card Girlfriend, Shelley Hunter 6000 4636 admin

From gift card tips and practical advice, to inspiring ideas and insights into the gift card industry, Shelley Hunter (a.k.a. Gift Card Girlfriend) is the one-and-only consumer guide to gift cards. In addition to sharing creative ideas, she is always on the lookout for gift card trends that impact the public. A former IT Professional in the financial services industry, Shelley is a work-at-home mom who loves to give (and receive!) gift cards.
Here’s her expert advice on what to do with an unwanted gift card:

Q. After receiving gift cards for holidays and birthdays, how should people prioritize using them?

I think the most important thing to do when you receive several gift cards at one time is to gather them all together, put them in one place and take an accounting of what you have. I keep my list top-of-mind so I don’t forget to use them.

Part of the reason for making this inventory is to know which gift cards you won’t use at all. Oftentimes when people get a lukewarm feeling about a gift card, they’ll put it in the back of their wallet “just in case” they change their mind about it. Then the gift card goes unused indefinitely. But realistically, your first instinct is probably correct.

Q. Why would a gift card recipient choose not to use it?
Common reasons people are unlikely to use a gift card include not having a location nearby, not liking the brand, or thinking they don’t need anything from that particular store. Or perhaps the gift card is for $40 and you’d need to spend $100 to purchase something you’d like. Once you know which gift card you won’t spend, make a plan to donate or regift it, instead of holding onto it for months and months.

Q. Why should consumers consider donating their gift cards to charity instead of selling them online for cash?

There are many reasons you may want to donate your gift card to charity, rather than sell it. Maybe it’s a local brand not a national one that can be sold online. Or, the online offer you’d get for selling it is way less than its value. Non-profits can maximize the value of gift cards, and when you help others it feels good.

Q. How can you donate a gift card to a charity?
Non-profit organizations, schools and groups in your local area are always looking to raise money. Many are actively trying to get cash or products donated to them. Say you have a restaurant gift card you aren’t going to use, and the high school football team is having an event where they can auction it to raise money – you can put your unwanted gift card to good use by donating it to the team’s booster club.

In addition to donating the card directly to an organization, you can use it to purchase items that fill an actual need for a specific charity. For instance, if you have a gift card to a department or clothing store you can go in and buy products that the local shelter could use like socks or hygiene products.

Q. What about regifting a gift card to a friend? Are there any gift cards that I shouldn’t give to someone else?
The only thing I wouldn’t do is regift a card that doesn’t have the full amount you’d expect – like an odd balance like $43.50. Always check the balance on a gift card before regifting it – you can go to the merchant, or often find out online. If the balance is an odd amount, I suggest you use the gift card to buy something from that store that the gift recipient would like.
Q. Any other expert tips you’d like to share?
The one other thing I would say is to be aware of retailers that are struggling. By having your personal gift card inventory and making an honest assessment of those gift cards, you’re less likely to get stuck with one that may eventually be unusable. If a store is going out of business, go buy things you can gift or donate to anyone for anything. When Gymboree was closing, I suggested buying several onesies that could be used in the future for new baby gifts or donated to charity. It’s better to buy something than have a gift card that may lose all its value.

For more advice from the Gift Card Girlfriend, check out her blog what to do with unwanted gift cards.

Today’s the day! It’s the official first annual National Use Your Gift Card Day!

Today’s the day! It’s the official first annual National Use Your Gift Card Day! 6000 4636 admin

It’s not too late to make a plan to use your gift cards and take advantage of the deals and reminders at  Gather up all your gift cards – make sure they’re not hiding in a drawer or stuffed into the back of your wallet.  Call your friends and meet up to shop together or swap gift cards. Whatever you decide to do today, make sure you Celebrate the Present™ of gift cards you received last month for the holidays by getting out and using them.

Did you know that $3 billion goes unspent on gift cards every year? You won’t want to be one of the many people who forget about their gift cards.  Even if you can’t or aren’t ready to use your gift cards today, you can take just a few minutes to celebrate National Use Your Gift Card Day by organizing your gift cards and creating a calendar of when and where you want to use them in the future.

Check our Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for the last chance to win a $50 gift card!

National Use Your Gift Card Day TOMORROW!

National Use Your Gift Card Day TOMORROW! 2560 2214 admin

National Use Your Gift Card Day is TOMORROW!

Saturday, January 18th is a shopping holiday to get up, get out and use your gift cards in stores or online. That means right now is the time to look through your drawers, wallets and desks to find all the gift cards you may have squirreled away. Make an action plan for when you want to go, where you want to shop or eat, and how you’ll use your gift cards.

According to the National Retail Federation, a total of $27.5 billion during the holiday season was spent on gift cards, so chances are you’re among the millions of recipients of at least one gift card last month. Surprisingly though, $3 billion goes unspent on gift cards every year- ouch!

National Use Your Gift Card Day helps you remember to spend every gift card dollar and reminds you to Celebrate the Present™ you got from friends and family for the holidays. You can find deals and reminders from your favorite retailers and restaurants at

No gift cards? No problem! You can enter to win a $50 gift card on our Instagram, Twitter and Facebook!

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