Regardless of how much money you make or what part of the country you live in, it’s almost impossible to say you have not felt the impact of the economic turmoil we’ve all been facing over the past 5 years. People are working desperately hard to keep their homes, get out of credit card debt and lead a balanced life. One of the biggest financial concerns for most Americans is the credit card debts they carry, it’s not going anywhere.

Many people are starting to look for ways to curb their spending and save more money without drastically impacting their lifestyle. Using discount gift cards is a great way to do this. Gift cards gained some additional respect in March, when the Federal Reserve passed new laws to protect consumer spending using them. With these new protections, gift cards can be a good option for those looking to stretch their budgets.

  1. Cash in coins and redeem in gift cards. Some coin redemption machines, like those at grocery stores or banks, let you exchange your coins for gift cards. Some even offer a bonus for choosing a gift card instead of a cash voucher. Once you get the gift card, make sure to stick to the value on the card when spending and keep your cash away.
  2. Stick to your budget. Gift Cards can be a way to dedicate spending categories, similar to the “envelope” method of budgeting. For example, buy gift cards in the amount on your weekly grocery budget. The money will be gone from your bank account, eliminating the temptation to spend it on something else and possibly rely on credit cards at the checkout. You will stick to your budget and avoid adding debt. Most stores allow shoppers to “reload” gift cards anyway.
  3. Reach a goal. Some people purchase gift cards for themselves to keep their spending focus on track. For instance, if you want to lose weight, you might purchase gift cards to restaurants where you can get healthy lunches instead of hitting the fast food place. Again, because you have already allocated your spending, you are most likely to stick with your plans.
  4. Redeem rewards points for gifts. If you find yourself in some debt, you might have some rewards ‘points’. Converting these points into gift cards to give someone or to spend on yourself can keep you from reaching into your bank account. Log into your credit card rewards website to find out if you can convert rewards into cash or gift cards. Some credit card companies will double the value of your rewards at specific retailers.
  5. Save for a cause. If you know you want to complete a home improvement project in two months, you can estimate how much you would need to save every week. But if it is difficult for you to stick to your goal, instead buy gift cards to the home improvement store in the amount of the weekly savings. Again, you will avoid spending your money elsewhere – and at the end of the allocated time, will have enough funds on gift cards to complete your project without debt.