Interesting Facts About Gift Cards

Gift Card Facts

Gift Card Redemptions

While online and retail vacation shopping sales have satisfied or surpassed expectations for many merchants in the last few years, there is another “rush” for all merchants to prepare for: gift card redemption.

Gift Card Facts
Gift Card Facts

In accordance with Hitwise, an online intelligence service, the market share of U.S. Internet searches consisting of the words “gift card” was up 32% for the week ending December 10, 2005 as compared to the previous week. In fact, the National Retail Federation expects gift card sales to increase 6.6% this holiday season to 18.48 billion dollars, with consumers spending an average of $88 dollars on gift cards or 15.6% of their vacation shopping budget plan.

Gift certificates have always been a popular gift option for the hard to please recipient or perhaps for the lazy consumer. For the gift giver, it enables a fast purchase at whatever shop or online merchant they choose, with a dollar amount that fits their budget plan. For the recipient, they can pick what they desire from a particular merchant and for the most part use the card at their convenience.

The Gift Card Is The Perfect Gift Option

But for some, offering a gift card is a cop-out, thinking it is too impersonal and deciding to hand pick a gift and choosing something special and distinct for a loved one or buddy. However, for some, the gift card is the perfect gift option, with family or friends even suggesting the store or online merchant they choose.

For the merchants, it has actually extended the vacation shopping season because they can not tape the sale until the recipient utilizes the gift card to make a purchase. This holds down sales figures in November and December, however supplies an increase in January when most cards are redeemed. An additional increase is provided by the reality that the majority of the consumers who redeem their gift cards typically invest 15% to 50% more than the face value of the card when they pick their vacation gift.

Are There Drawbacks To Gift Cards?

There are some drawbacks to gift cards. Some merchants clear unused gift cards off the books by subtracting off of the stated value of the card, an inactivity fee (normally $2.50 monthly) after a specific quantity of time. Some gift cards have an expiration date and others come with special conditions or limitations. However, consumer outrage has actually prompted many states across the nation to introduce legislation restricting or banning the fees. Furthermore, there is no federal law on gift cards however, two Republican congressmen, Joe Barton of Texas and Charlie Bass of New Hampshire, have asked for that the Federal Trade Commission investigate the way retailers conduct their gift card programs.

Is giving a gift card too impersonal? Is it the best gift choice? That question is up for dispute and is an individual choice. However with annual gift card sales forecasted to reach 90 billion dollars by 2007 (Ernst & Young 2005), the gift card is here to stay.

Yes, A Gift Card Is A Great Present

What To Give The Person Who Has Everthing

What Do You Give  Hard-to-Buy-For People?

Almost everybody has at least one person on their shopping list that seems impossible to buy for. That person may be incredibly choosy; might go out and buy everything they want when they desire it; or may be someone you do not know all that well.

What To Give The Person Who Has EverthingFor instance, some couples who get married do not register for gifts because they currently have their homes established and do not feel they need any extra items. In that case, a gift card or gift certificate to one of their favorite dining establishments, the theater, or for travel from an airline or travel bureau would likely be appreciated. Or perhaps the person you are buying the gift for is somebody who lives far away and the gift you wish to buy is extremely bulky which would make shipping costly. Because case a gift card or gift certificate for that product would work well.

A gift card can likewise be an excellent gift for somebody you know extremely well. For instance, my sister-in-law enjoys to obtain massages. But she has four children and a tight family budget so massages are a high-end she can not normally manage. So for her birthday and for Christmas I offer her gift certificates for massages or to a spa. She loves getting them!

I’ve likewise provided my children gift cards. For instance, last year my boy desired a recliner for Christmas. We wanted to get it for him but he lives 600 miles away and one wouldn’t suit his vehicle for his drive back home after the holidays. Purchasing one and shipping it didn’t seem cost effective to us. We chose we would rather put that shipping loan into a nicer reclining chair so we gave him a gift card to purchase a chair where he lives. Due to the fact that we weren’t sure exactly what furniture shop he would wish to purchase the recliner from, we gave him a Visa gift card which can be utilized anywhere a Visa charge card can be utilized.

The significant credit card companies, consisting of Mastercard, Discover, American Express, and Visa all sell gift cards. The gift cards are redeemable anywhere their credits are accepted.

Everyone Likes A Little Help Filling Up On Gas

Gas gift cards are another gift card I like to give. My nieces and nephews who own love them, because like the majority of other teenagers who drive they are always scrounging for gas cash. And since gas gift cards can be used for gas and also for purchasing treats inside the filling station, they are a gift that is really appreciated.

Teenage girls normally love gift cards or gift certificates to the local shopping center. For me, teenage girls are challenging to buy and I have a teenage daughter! Most teenage girls love clothes but can be extremely picky about what they like. Likewise, picking the best size can be challenging since sizes are not uniform amongst shops. I prefer giving a gift card in order to avoid the recipient having to go through taking the undesirable or incorrect size item back to the shop to exchange.

If you need to find a gift for someone who enjoys to go to restaurants and you wish to buy them a dining establishment gift certificate, consider buying one from your state’s restaurant association (if they use gift certificates). Then the receivers will have the ability to go to any among the association’s member dining establishments which generally provides a large option. For example, the Wisconsin restaurant association offers gift certificates to utilize at any among their member dining establishments of which there are over 7,000.

If you are looking for a gift for that individual who appears to have whatever, think about giving them something much like a gift card– offer a gift in their name to a charitable organization such as the Red Cross.

Some individuals say offering a gift card is the lazy way to provide a gift. I don’t concur. I think an attentively picked gift card is a wonderful gift. It reveals the recipient that you desire them to have something unique they can truly use.

Give Double The Delight With Gift Cards!

Gift Cards Are Splendid Gifts

Finding the ideal present can be very difficult

Gift Cards Are Splendid Gifts
Gift Cards – Double The Pleasure!

Discovering the ideal gift for that unique someone has actually always been of terrific importance. They may state that it’s the idea that counts, however the thoughtfulness invested in any gift must go deeper than simply selecting something up at random. While your mom might like flowers, there’s little point in purchasing a lot for your sweetheart who is allergic– a gift does not need to be precisely exactly what your loved one wanted to be really valued, but it should represent something they can use, and some understanding of exactly what they enjoy to do.

Is A Gift Card An Impersonal Present?

For this reason it might be argued that gift cards are merely an impersonal method, purchased to make the gift provider’s life much easier rather than displaying any unique thought or message to the recipient. And while there is an excellent thrill to be discovered in getting the really gift you have talked about non-stop for weeks, or something purchased by the delicate soul who intuited a gift that you had not even realized you required yet, a gift card is a really thoughtful gift, enabling the recipient to buy precisely what it is they truly need.

Why Everyone Likes A Gift Card

How many of us have received gifts that wound up unused, unloved? Even with the best will on the planet, a well-thought out gift can fizzle. Why make complex life by gifting items that just add stress to the lives of those we like by needing to be dragged from storage each time we visit? It is not just the recipient who wants to discover a gift that will beloved and treasured.

Share A Gift Card With Your Friend

If you are fretted about your gift card appearing impersonal, then make your mark on what is undoubtedly a special gift. Make your own handmade card to accompany your gift, and make a date to go shopping to invest it. By picking a non-store particular gift card, such as those made by Visa, you can leave the plans in the hands of the recipient of your gift, so that you in effect present them with a twofold gift– the chance to purchase something they’ve constantly wanted and the possibility to spend time with you.

Basic Tips on Personal Finance

Personal Finance

Basic Tips on Personal Finance

Personal FinanceDo you ever wonder where your money goes every month? Does it sometimes seem as though you cannot afford to do things because your financial obligations are holding you back? If you find that you are asking yourself these sorts of questions, perhaps you should take a look at your financial situation and assess whether you are practicing good personal finance management or not. Good personal finance management spends within their income, plan for the future and solve financial problems as they arise. Poor personal finance management pay more, do without and fall behind. If you find yourself in the second category, you can do something about it. You can learn to take charge of your finances by planning your personal finances.

Planning your personal finances doesn’t always come naturally, and even if you’re just beginning to take your financial matters seriously, then you likely need a few personal finance tips.

Evaluate your current financial situation. One of the most important goals for most people is financial independence. Collect accurate information about your personal financial situation. Calculate your net worth which includes the real estate, saving and retirement accounts, and all other assets. This will help you decide how much money you can set aside for meeting future needs and goals.

A basic personal finance tip is to make a budget. A personal finance budget is information made up of your income and expenses and the more accurate this information is, the more likely you are be able to meet your goals and realize your dreams. A personal finance budget should be made for at most one year at a time and include a list of your monthly expenses.

All expenses must be included. To be sure of that go through all your paid bills, check register and credit card receipts to find expenditures that recur every month and expenditures that happen less frequently. Personal finance budgeting requires some small sacrifices. To be able to make good personal financial decisions and set priorities, you must know where your money is actually going. Start your budget and accomplish your goals.

Get an electronic bill pay. This is a very convenient way to pay your bills. You pay them electronically, by direct withdrawal from your bank account. The transaction is processed immediately. You can even link your bill pay service to your personal finance budget, so that your expenditures are automatically entered in the appropriate category. Personal financial management can be really easy.

Make an investment and finance plan. Now that the fundamental state of your personal financial security has been established, the time has come for the more prosperous part of your personal financial life. You need to make a personal finance plan of what you really want in life that money can buy. Your personal financial plan can be as simple or as detailed as you want it to be. Find out how to finally start to implement this plan and get the money to finance it. This is the long term part of your financial. This journey is the most interesting and exciting part of personal financing you can have toward financial freedom.

You can prepare for a secure personal financial future by following these simple tips. When you take control with your money, you don’t have to worry about debt taking control of you.

Top 5 Money Mistakes of Young Couples

 

gr8redlogo-90When you’re newly married, you’ll probably face some new challenges and might not feel that you’re ready for these new responsibilities. A lot of young couples don’t anticipate how different managing their finances can be once they get married.

 

It’s important to understand how merging your finances will impact the way you spend and manage money. There are common mistakes most couples make, and you can avoid some difficulties by being aware of these errors.

 

These are the five most common money mistakes young couples make:

 

  1. Not communicating about money. It’s crucial to talk about money and agree on how you wish to spend and save money as a couple. You’ll find yourselves fighting over money issues if you avoid this for too long or if one spouse isn’t upfront about money.

 

  1. Failing to build your savings. You might feel that you’re not earning enough to save money, but most couples can find at least a little to save by cutting back on the more flexible expenses. Cover your bases and prepare for a brighter future by saving for these events:

 

  • Starting a family. Going through a pregnancy and raising a baby is expensive!
  • When you’re ready to settle down, you’ll need a down payment to buy a home.
  • Children’s education. College is expensive and it is never too early to start saving.
  • Health expenses. Open a health savings account if you don’t have a comprehensive health insurance policy.
  • Being young means you can take more risks when you invest and saving up early will help you retire more comfortably. It also gives your savings time to grow from the interest you’ll earn over many years.

 

  1. Failing to effectively manage debts and credit cards. Some couples encounter challenges because one person wasn’t upfront about how deeply they’re in debt or because they use their credit card too often. Even though both spouses still have separate credit scores, both should be responsible for managing debt and credit:

 

  • Set some goals and strategies to raise both your credit scores.
  • Decide what your credit cards should be used for and how much you can charge on them.
  • Make paying off your loans or outstanding credit card balances a priority.

 

  1. Buying a house before you’re ready. You’ll see benefits in waiting until you’re financially stabile before purchasing a house. There are still some costly mistakes to avoid once you are ready to buy a home:

 

  • Buying a house that is too expensive to fix or maintain.
  • Applying for a mortgage you can’t afford.
  • Not making a down payment that is large enough to lower your mortgage.
  • Failing to take advantage of the help available to first-time buyers.
  • Buying a house before taking the time to raise your credit score.

 

  1. Not looking for ways to strengthen your financial standing. You can set some financial goals and do your best to save money, but most young couples eventually need to find a way to earn a higher income to meet their goals.

 

  • You could, for instance, make some plans for your career, move to a city where you can get better jobs, or decide to go back to school.

 

If you think you’re making any of these mistakes, it’s a great time to schedule a money discussion. Make plans to bypass these mistakes and get started on the right track for a bright financial future together.

Top Job Related Expenses You Can Cut Today

Top Job Related Expenses You Can Cut Today

 

 

gr8redlogo-90Are job-related expenses draining your paycheck? You can find the sources of the money leaks plug those holes with a few changes to your spending routines.

 

Try these techniques to save money on your work expenses:

 

  1. Analyze your commuting costs. How much do you spend each day to get to work? It’s important to consider every step of the way and every penny:
  • If you drive, keep track of the cost of gas and car maintenance. In addition, you may have to pay for tolls along the roads you use. You may also have other fees related to the car such as insurance.
  • If you use public transportation, add up the cost of the tickets.
  • If you walk or ride a bike, think about the cost of shoes and bike maintenance.
  • Examine your commute and search for ways to cut costs. Can you pick roads without tolls? Can you share rides with coworkers and split the cost of gas? Can you find a cheaper public transportation route or buy tickets ahead of time to save money?

 

  1. Consider your childcare expenses. Do you pay for childcare while you work? How much of your paycheck goes to childcare expenses? Do you pay for a babysitter, school, or daycare center?
  • Shop around for less expensive childcare deals.
  • Consider using a co-op to save money. A co-op allows parents to take care of other people’s children on a set schedule.
  • You may also be able to rearrange your schedule with your spouse, so one of you can take care of the kids after school.

 

  1. Evaluate your work clothes budget. How much do you spend on your work clothes?
  • You may have to follow strict clothing rules at work, but you can still save money. Shop at discount stores or thrift stores. Search for deals at online clothing stores.
  • You may be able to swap clothes with another professional and you’ll both save money.

 

  1. Save on lunch expenses. Do you go out to eat every day for lunch? Bringing your own lunch is an easy way to save money, but it’s not always an option.
  • Track your lunch spending and look for ways to cut the costs. Try to select filling meals that cost less than your usual fare.
  • Can you bring your own water bottle to work to save on drinks?

 

  1. Remember office supply expenses. Does your company make you supply your own phone or other office items? Do you have to provide your own pens or paper?
  • By buying in bulk, you can save money on office supplies. Shop online or at club stores for bigger savings.
  • Search for deals on school supplies prior to the beginning of the new school year. You can also find clearance items at retailers after the big school rush in the fall.
  • You don’t need the fanciest stapler or most elaborate folders. Simpler supplies cost less.
  • Also, you may want to discuss the office supply situation with your employer. Many companies cover these expenses for their office employees or provide the items themselves.

 

Job-related expenses may be unavoidable, but you can reduce them. By paying attention to your habits at work, you can make changes that result in big savings.

Protect Your Finances from Inflation Before It’s Too Late

Protect Your Finances from Inflation Before It's Too Late

 

inflation can impact your savings

Inflation can eat up your savings and plans for the future. However, you can take steps to protect yourself from inflation.

 

Consider these tips to protect your finances:  

 

  1. Understand purchasing power. Purchasing power refers to your ability to buy items such as necessities and luxuries. One of the main issues with inflation is that your purchasing power goes down as inflation goes up.

 

  • For example, your $1 could buy an item yesterday, but today you’ll need $5 to buy the same item.
  • Unfortunately, interest rates and incomes can’t always keep up with inflation.

 

  1. Consider investing in the stock market. Do you have investments in the stock market? Instead of taking them out after every drop, plan a long-term strategy.

 

  • Long-term investments in stocks may protect you from inflation.
  • Commodities tend to increase in value during inflation. For example, coffee or grains may survive inflation well on the stock market because they’re commodities.

 

  1. Consider real estate investments. Real estate can be a powerful investment tool.

 

  • Real estate can fluctuate in value. If you’re considering an investment, then you may want to be careful.
  • Although real estate prices can go up during inflation, you have to consider your ability to handle all of the loans and mortgages. Even if you rent out the properties, how will you handle periods without renters?
  • Commercial real estate can be even more complicated than buying a home. If you want to invest in commercial real estate, then you also have to deal with zoning laws and extra fees.
  • Land is another possible investment option.

 

  1. Consider investing in your future. You have the power to survive inflation, and you can take steps to deal with it.

 

  • Have you considered investing in your future by going back to school? Additional degrees may help you earn more money and provide a bigger cushion during times of inflation.
  • However, going back to school isn’t the only choice. You can also take free classes online or from other organizations. You can build your skill set and discover new hobbies that can increase your income.

 

  1. Try to make your income sources grow. If you can make your sources of income increase, then inflation will have a lower impact on you.

 

  1. Get rid of debt. As inflation rises, the interest rates on your debts can also rise. If you pay off your debts, then you don’t have to worry about it. However, if you can’t pay off all of your debts, be prepared to make higher payments during times of inflation.

 

  1. Consider your Social Security benefits. During periods of inflation, benefits such as Social Security usually can’t keep up with the growing prices. Be prepared for this event. Have some savings that will cover you when prices go up.

 

Inflation isn’t always easy to predict or avoid. However, you can take action to make it have a smaller impact on your finances. Follow these strategies and protect yourself, your family, and your finances from inflation.

Important Financial Considerations Before the Birth of Your First Child

Important Financial Considerations Before the Birth of Your First Child

 

 

financial baby burdenExpecting your first child is a very exciting event and the financial aspect of raising a child is probably not the only thing you have on your mind. However, having a child means you’ll soon have some new responsibilities, including preparing for your new arrival from a financial point of view.

 

A lot of new parents underestimate the cost of having a baby. These are some of the main expenses you’ll have to cover in the next few months:

 

  • Doctors’ appointments during the pregnancy and for the baby
  • Birthing classes
  • Maternity leave can impact your budget if your employer doesn’t offer paid leave.
  • Purchasing a stroller, crib, car seat, and some baby clothes
  • Saving up to cover any other expenses you didn’t plan for

 

The good news is that you have nine months to prepare and save some money. This will be easier if you assess how much money you expect to spend on baby-related expenses during the pregnancy and the first year of your baby’s life.

 

Put aside a certain amount on a weekly or monthly basis to reach your goal.

 

Consider these items as well:

 

  1. Go over your current health care plan to figure out how much coverage you have. At least a dozen of checkups will be needed throughout the pregnancy if there are no complications. You should also go over your policy to see if you would be covered for a C section since this is a more expensive procedure.

 

  1. Open a health savings account and make regular contributions. These contributions are tax deductible and this is a good way to cover a part of the costs of the pregnancy and delivery.

 

  1. What about your career? As an expectant mother, you’ll probably have to put your career on hold for a while. If you work for a company with less than thirty employees, your employer is not required to offer a paid maternity leave. Talk to your employer to find out if you can count on getting your job back after the maternity leave.

 

  1. Increasing your income. Raising a child costs $165,000 according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. You should expect to spend between $8,000 and $10,000 during the first year of the baby’s life. Saving money is necessary, but you might want to look into ways to earn more money in the long-term.

 

  1. These items would also be beneficial:
  • Disability insurance that covers any complications linked to pregnancy
  • Term life insurance
  • Look into upgrading your health insurance. If you plan on scheduling all your appointments with the same professionals, a preferred provider option can be more affordable and provide you with more coverage.
  • A 529 Saving Plan to start saving up for your child’s college education

 

Avoid making the mistake of overspending on items you don’t really need, like a lot of young parents do. Focus on upgrading your health care if needed, putting as much money aside as possible, and shopping for good deals for baby essentials.

 

It will be easier to avoid overspending if you have a good idea of the expenses you still need to take care of. Help yourself to meet your money goals for the baby expenses by creating and following a budget.

 

Having a baby is a major life event. Saving money should be a priority, but don’t hesitate to ask friends and relatives to help with some baby items. They’ll likely be glad to help out with baby clothes and other essentials.

How Helicopter Parents Affect a Child’s Finances

helicopter kid

 

gr8redlogo-90Did you know that being a helicopter parent can negatively affect your child’s financial future? Helicopter parenting is becoming more common, but it can have serious, unintended consequences.

 

If you’re a helicopter parent, consider the financial impact on your child:  

 

  1. Understanding helicopter parenting. Helicopter parenting requires you to be extremely involved in every aspect of your child’s life.

 

  • Helicopter parents often make the decisions for their children and rescue them from any issues they may encounter. These types of parents want to prevent the world from hurting their children, but they also affect the ability of the children to grow and learn.

 

  1. Inability to make decisions on their own. Studies show that the children of helicopter parents often lack self-confidence and struggle with decisions. They rely on their parents for help with every decision. This affects being able to handle their finances and their ability to invest.

 

  1. They don’t learn how to handle basic personal finance tasks. Does your child understand how to manage a checkbook or write a check? Can your child keep track of spending on a budget?

 

  • The children of helicopter parents often struggle with simple personal finance and have to ask their parents for help or pay others to help them.
  • Ensure that your children are able to write a check, make a deposit, make a withdrawal, and keep track of their finances.

 

  1. They lack financial responsibility. Helicopter parents often have children who are financially irresponsible.

 

  • They struggle with responsibility and turn to their parents to save them. Do you rescue your children from every financial mistake they make?

 

  • Parents who act as financial saviors are actually hurting their children’s ability to learn from their mistakes and make more beneficial decisions in the future.

 

  • Children can become too dependent on their parents and refuse to grow up.

 

  1. They may ask you to finance their luxury lifestyle. Helicopter parenting can make children grow accustomed to luxury lifestyles and having all of their needs met. They often continue to ask their parents to finance these lifestyles as an adult.

 

  • Can you afford to finance your child’s luxury desires and wants? Helicopter parents may want to examine how much money they’re giving their children.

 

  1. They remain financially dependent on their parents. Studies show that the children of helicopter parents are also more likely to go home after college without a job or any future plans. They continue to depend on their parents for money and every aspect of their lifestyle.

 

  • The knowledge that you’ll rescue them from any trouble makes them less likely to want independence.

 

  • Encourage your children to establish their own households and careers. Unfortunately, the impact of years of helicopter parenting means that they’re less likely to live on their own.

 

  • You may have to push your children to become financially independent. They may resist this because helicopter parenting has made them feel secure. But think of the future. You don’t want to take care of a 40-year-old child who is capable of working and living on his or her own!

 

Helicopter parenting can have dramatic outcomes for children and their finances. It’s important to be aware of these consequences and encourage your child’s financial learning and independence. Otherwise, you may be stuck taking care of their finances for years after they become adults.

Don’t Let Your Hobby Destroy Your Financial Future

Don't Let Your Hobby Destroy Your Financial Future

 

Empty Bank AccountDo you have a favorite hobby that takes up a great deal of your time and money? Hobbies can be fun activities, but they can also have a negative impact on your finances.

 

If your hobby is starting to hurt your finances, then it’s time to reevaluate it:  

 

  1. Consider the time you spend on the hobby. How much time do you dedicate to your favorite hobby every week? Do you spend at least several hours on the hobby every day?

 

  • Hobbies can be fun distractions and can help you explore new ideas. However, hobbies that take up too much of your time can be dangerous. They can affect your job, family, friends, and finances.

 

  • If spending so much time on your hobby has negative effects, perhaps just cutting down the amount of time you spend on it can resolve those issues.

 

  1. Is your hobby interfering with your job? A hobby shouldn’t affect your work life or paycheck. Don’t risk losing your job because the hobby has taken over your life. Find a way to balance them before it’s too late.

 

  1. Examine how much money you spend on the hobby. How much does your hobby cost you and your family each month? Is your hobby eating away at your retirement savings and rainy day accounts?

 

  • Most hobbies do have some expenses, and that’s okay, as long as your budget can handle the costs without robbing from your necessary expenses.

 

  • If your hobby is starting to hurt your ability to feed your family or pay the light bill, remembering your priorities will help you contain the costs.

 

  1. Evaluate the reputation impact. Is your hobby strange or unusual, and does it affect your reputation? Your reputation may affect your ability to get and keep a job. How will future employers react to learning about your unusual hobby?

 

  • Even if you feel secure in your current employment, circumstances can change fast. You may be laid off or the company may cut down hours without a great deal of notice. This can leave you scrambling to find new work, and your reputation is important during the process.

 

  • Potential employers can find information about your hobbies on social media and other websites that you post on. They can use this data to make hiring decisions and may not be pleased with your hobby choices. It’s important to consider that companies can be concerned with their public image and how employees represent them.

 

  • An unusual hobby can also hurt your chances of getting a promotion. Employers often check into your private life as they make decisions on who gets promoted within the company.

 

  1. Consider storage expenses. Does your hobby require a lot of materials that need extra storage you’re paying for each month? Try making a dedicated space in your home where you can store the materials for free.

 

Hobbies shouldn’t affect your ability to pay normal bills or buy food. If your hobby is out of control, think about other ways to spend your free time. A less expensive hobby will bring you many benefits.