How I Used Gift Cards to Help Pay for the Holidays

Craig Sebastiano
by Craig Sebastiano December 16, 2016 / No Comments

The holidays can be a costly time of year, especially if you plan on buying presents for friends and family. Instead of spending more than I could afford or dipping into my savings, I decided to use gift cards to avoid going into debt.

Gift cards are a popular present. In fact, a survey by market research firm GfK finds 62% of Canadians plan on buying store gift cards this year. Interestingly, the cards are the most popular in Atlantic Canada—73% of respondents in that part of the country plan to buy them. That number is lower in Ontario (67%), Quebec (61%), and Western Canada (53%).

While gift cards are popular, many find them impersonal. That’s why more than one-third of Canadians won’t be buying gift cards. For me, however, I don’t care because I can put those gift cards to good use and buy something for myself or others.

So far, I’ve used three different gift cards to spend about $120 on seven presents. I was able to use Hudson’s Bay and Indigo gift cards on five presents: Two small Lego sets, a set of washable markers, a stuffed animal, and baby clothes and still have money left over.

And I used another gift card I received from work to purchase a couple books (total cost: $40.16) for two gift exchanges I participated in. During one of the exchanges, I was able to snag a gift I can give to someone else (hopefully, he or she doesn’t read this). I’ll admit it, I’m a regifter and I’m not ashamed of it.

Despite buying seven gifts, I still have about $58 left on two of the cards, which I hope to use to buy a couple more presents in the next week or so.

The bottom line

While gift cards are usually given to you for you to spend money on yourself, they can come in handy if you want to buy a lot of presents without going into debt. Next year, I hope to spend any new gift cards I receive on myself. In order to do that, I plan on putting some money away into a savings account every month so I’m better prepared for Christmas in 2017.

If you want to save for the holidays next year, you should compare the best GIC rates and the best high-interest savings accounts.

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