January 11, 2018
If you received some gift cards this past holiday season that you’ve yet to use, let me ask you a question: do you really want or need more stuff?
What if, instead, you used the value of the card to pay down some credit card debt? Or make a fresh investment in your Roth IRA. Or donate the proceeds to a charity?
I bet just thinking about those options made you feel pretty good. They are acts that will enrich you. Maybe it’s having more security when you make a dent in paying off a debt. Maybe more calm that you are doing what you can to help those in need, at a time when so many are in need.
And I don’t think you really need to worry about offending the person who gave you the gift card (if you intend to tell them.) Anyone who cares about you, will cheer you on when you take steps to help yourself and help others. Isn’t that really part of the holiday spirit anyway?
If you want to convert a gift card to cash, there are websites where you can list gift cards for sale. You won’t get every penny of the face value back, but depending on the card you might get 85% or so of the face value of the card. Or better yet, send out a note to colleagues or friends offering a card at a 5% discount, or “best offer.” I bet you will get some takers.
Do it now, before you forget where you stored the gift card. Do it now, so you can turn around and use the cash toward an act that will make you feel good. That’s the best gift, and one that you deserve!
Answer Yes or No to the follow statements.
I pay all my credit card bills in full each month.
I have an eight-month emergency savings fund separate from my checking or other bank accounts.
The car I am driving was paid for with cash, or a loan that was no more than three years, and I sure didn’t lease!
I am contributing at least 10% of my gross salary to a retirement plan at work, or I am saving at least that much in an IRA and/or regular taxable account.
I have a long-term asset allocation plan for my retirement investments, and once a year I check to see if I need to do any rebalancing to stay on target with my allocation goals.
I have term life insurance to provide protection to those who are dependent on my income.
I have a will, a trust, an advance directive (living will), and have appointed someone to be my health care proxy.
So how did you do?
If you answered yes to every item, congratulations. If you are working on improving on a few items, I say congratulations as well.
As long as you are comitted to truly creating financial security, I applaud you. If that means you are paying down your credit card balances, or are building up your emergency fun with automated payments, that’s more than fine. You are on your way!
But if you found yourself saying No to any of those questions, and you’re not working on moving to Yes, then I want you to stand in your truth. No matter how good you feel, you have some work to do before you can honestly know what you are on solid financial ground.