A girlfriend of mine knows I love Dean & Deluca, so she gave me a very generous gift card to D&D for Christmas. And boy, did I love that thing. Just having it in my wallet, and knowing I could go in that place and get whatever I needed, whenever I wanted. It was awesome.
But then it ran out of money. I stood at the register owing 74 cents. And instead of scrounging up the change, I took out my credit card and bought another gift card. I just couldn’t stand the thought of not having it anymore.
I already have a Starbucks card I reload every month, why not a D&D card? The answer is, because they’re luxuries that I really shouldn’t be spending money on. But what if I sat down at the beginning of each month, worked out a budget, and bought gift cards for the real necessities in life?
Like a grocery card. That way I would budget my groceries and not be grabbing extra stuff on the way out. Same with gas. Budget two full tanks, and after that, I don’t know, we ride our bikes or something.
Oh, and Target. Now that’s a place where every mom needs discipline. No more going in there for a coat for your child and walking out of there with new placemats, a scarf and the soundtrack from “Nashville.”
I could really get a handle on budgeting for the kids. A shoe gift card would put an end to the pricey brand names – unless they want to max out the card and make up the difference out of their own wallets. And maybe do teeny-tiny-amount gift cards for fast food, movie theaters and iTunes. Help eliminate some of the junk in their lives.
It could work the other way too. I could get a gift card to a sporting goods store and a yoga studio. Because trust me, when I get a gift card, I use it, no matter what it’s for. That way I’d buy workout clothes and actually work out. And have to workout, until the card was maxed out. Brilliant.
Add to that a card to GNC, Barnes & Noble and Guitar Center, and I’d be healthy, smart and know how to play an instrument. Throw in Sephora, and I’d have nice skin. Then I’m making the most of my money – and myself!
But inevitably, there’s that awkward moment where you come up short. And you owe, like $1.46. And you have to put something back – or just walk. The kids don’t like it, but they learn that eventually money really does run out. It’s a great lesson to them, and everyone begins to learn that you absolutely must budget.
Or at least keep a twenty in the glove box.