Recently, my husband and I were sitting at home feeling bored. We wanted to go out and do something but we didn't have any extra spending money to allow us to go out for dinner or to a movie or something we would normally do on a date. We were sitting there and Jordan was looking through his wallet (I told you we were bored!) and noticed that he had a handful of gift cards in his wallet; Some that he knew had been there for years. I grabbed my wallet and found another handful of my own. We talked about how we can never bring ourselves to throw them out because we don't know if they have any money left on them.
So, we decided to find out. We had never done this before because it seemed like a waste of time and we assumed it would be quite complicated. But we had nothing else to do. First we looked online to see if there was a way to check the balance of the gift cards without calling. For about 70% of them there was a way! We ended up finding that some of them had no remaining balance and we threw those ones in the garbage. Others had a few dollars here and there remaining.
Once we had found out which cards had a balance on them we assessed our situation. We had...
Apple Store: $8.55
Canadian Tire: $7.79
Chapters: $20.00 (Yikes!! This had been in his wallet for years!)
Swiss Chalet/Harveys: $7.01
Bed, Bath & Beyond: $2.80
Victoria's Secret: $13.38
Pretty good right? We thought so! At this point we came up with, what I think is, a brilliant plan. We decided to make a date night of it! So we came up with a game where we would go to the mall and spend all of these gift cards. The catch? We could only spend what we had. And we needed to try to get as close to the exact balance so that afterwards we wouldn't have any cards left. We had only exactly 5 dollars in our wallets and we decided that we would bring that as a way to make it a little more possible to spend up the full balance on the card. (So if we found something that was 50 cents over the card balance we could dip into our 5 dollars to make it work). But we were not allowed to use any more than that.
This turned out to be one of the most fun dates we have ever had! We spend hours running around the mall trying to find things that were the exact right price. Not to much, not too little. It was a huge success and we didn't even use up our entire 5 dollars! Here is what we got:
2. These candles were all we could afford at Bed, Bath, and Beyond since our card only had $2.80 on it. We had to dip into our 5 dollars for this one. I would say that this card proved to be the most challenging, but we love our candles!
3. This is a makeup bag from Victoria's Secret. I looked for a long time in this store. There were lots of pairs of underwear I could have purchased that were within the card budget, but none of them were close enough to the full balance. I ended up having to purchase this makeup bag because it was the only thing that was the exact right price and would leave me with an empty gift card. I actually use it so much! Though the pattern is not my style, it is such a handy little bag!
4. We couldn't find a book that we both agreed on at Chapters so we decided to split the balance down the middle and both look for something worth 10 dollars. I ended up finding this wonderful candle, which has been one of my all time favourites, and Jordan found a cute little strawberry plant starter kit.
5. On our way home we went to Canadian Tire, but it was closed already. But, to our great joy, the Canadian Tire gas station was still open! We decided to buy snacks with our gift card and then go home and watch a movie to finish off our date! So we got a few little bags of chips, candy, and chocolate milk!
6. In the middle of our shopping trip we stopped in at the food court to spend our Swiss Chalet/Harvey's gift card. We ended up being able to purchase a decent lunch for ourselves!
We had so much fun on this random-yet-productive date night! We spent all our gift cards and were able to clear that space up in our wallets. This blurry picture is the only one we took of ourselves that day!
If you have a bunch of mystery gift cards stashed in your wallet or elsewhere, give this fun activity a try! You may have more money left on that old, decrepit, gift card than you realize!
Let me know what you think of this idea and if you are going to try it out! Do you have any other cool tips for leftover gift cards? I would love to hear about them!