It was estimated that each American would receive at least one gift card over the winter holiday season.  For many reasons though, millions of dollars each year go unspent on gift cards. Chances are, some received cards of no personal value and decided to stick them in a drawer somewhere. Others like me, may spend weeks debating on how to spend it and eventually forget about it. My advice, use your gift cards sooner rather than later unless they are for something like Starbucks where multiple gift card transactions are necessary to diminish the card’s balance. Here are some tips to help you with those gift card decisions:

1.) Remember Necessity Over Frivolous Spending = Win

For those of you with the $50 or $100 Walmart gift cards, this one is for you. Impulse might tell a lot of you to upgrade your life in the electronics department with every dollar you have. A good approach I try to take to this situation is the 80/20 rule. If you purchase necessities like toilet paper, soap, groceries, and other NEEDS. This will free up budget in the immediate future. With the other 20%, go ahead and treat yourself to a movie or something. It can be fun trying to meet that $20 cap at the end of shopping for something you WANT.

2.) Re-gifting Never Hurts

No I  don’t mean re-give the gift card. Have a loved one or friend with a birthday coming up? Instead of forcing a personal purchase, use the gift card to buy something for them instead. This saves you money you would have probably spent anyway.

3.) Trade OR Redeem For Cash

There are some great sites to exchange or sell gift cards like GiftCardRescue.com. Gift Card Rescue offers consumers the chance to swap gift cards and even to earn up to $.92 back on every dollar.  This route might take a little research and work but it is surely worth it once you reap the benefits of the savings they provide. GCR accepts cards from over 350 vendors and offers trades for credit with merchants such as Amazon.

4.) Donate To Charity And Feel Good

If you really don’t happen to need a gift card, or are feeling extra generous, there are some options available for you to donate to charities. That gift card might not mean much to you, but to someone else it could mean everything. Works Of Life is a non profit Christian organization that combines smaller donated gift cards into larger cards to help needy individuals and families. GiftCardGiver distributes donated cards to non profit organizations which in turn, use the funds to help the less fortunate. GiftCardGiver also offers the option to throw a house party, meaning that you invite your friends over and collect their unused gift cards to make one bulk donation.