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10 Reasons Gift Certificates Make Horrible Gifts

10 Reasons Gift Certificates Make Horrible Gifts

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    I don’t know who came up with gift certificates, but they should receive an award for one of the best marketing jobs ever pulled on the unsuspecting public. How else can you explain how people are willing to trade money, for a less useful and more restrictive form of money at a one-to-one ratio?

    For those of you who can’t think of what to buy your miserly Aunt Josie who doesn’t seem to enjoy any material possessions or your nephew, John, who is involved in the next cult-like fad of card-collecting, baggy clothes or earsplitting music, avoid the temptation to get a gift certificate. Here’s why:

    1) Gift certificates are like money, except less useful.

    Money can be used everywhere. Gift certificates can only be used with specific stores. If the gift certificate offers some kind of special service or discount, this tradeoff might be reasonable. However most gift certificates can’t be redeemed for cash, nor do they offer special treatment so buying one is essentially buying less useful money.

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    2) Gift certificates are a mark of defeat.

    When I’ve given gift certificates in the past, the unstated words are, “I give up.” A gift certificate is basically a sign that you couldn’t think of an actual gift to give the person, so you will just let them pick it out for themselves. If you want a gift that says, “I don’t know you well enough to pick out a gift, but I thought cash was tacky,” get a gift certificate.

    3) Gift certificates have expiry dates.

    Not only are gift certificates a more restricted form of money, now some companies have the nerve to put an expiry date on them. As if trading your money for less valuable money wasn’t enough, now you get the bonus of having money that only lasts for a year or two. Most stores won’t tell you about the expiry dates, but if you check the back most tell you that your less-valuable money will become completely useless after several months.

    4) Gift certificates can backfire.

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    The main argument for a gift certificate over cash, is that it shows at least some thought into preparation. However, this can backfire if you get someone a certificate for a store they never shop at. I’m sure we’ve all had the joy of running over to a store to use a gift certificate to buy an item we don’t need, just to feel like we aren’t wasting it.

    5) Gift certificates can cost your friends and family money.

    When you give a gift certificate, often you are forcing them to pay some of their own money to use it. A twenty-five dollar gift certificate isn’t a whole lot at some fancy outlets and technology stores. You may be forcing your recipient to spend another ten or twenty dollars in order to use your wonderful gift. How thoughtful!

    6) Gift certificates get lost.

    Many stores have started using gift cards instead of certificates. These little devices magnetically store info about the dollar value they hold. Despite the tracking of the gift certificate money electronically, you still need to have the card in order to use it. That means that if your certificate gets lost, the money is gone forever. At least you can deposit cash in the bank.

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    7) Gift certificates have leftovers.

    What actually costs exactly twenty-five or fifty dollars? Usually your lucky gift-card recipient will be left with a couple dollars on their card after buying a gift they probably didn’t really want for themselves. This means your tradeoff for less valuable, expiring money loses an additional dollar or two.

    8 ) Gift certificates mean a trip to the store.

    Buying a real gift for someone says: “I know you don’t like to treat yourself, but I went to the trouble of getting something I know you’ll like at a store to save you the visit.” A gift certificate is the do-it-yourself version of a gift, forcing the receiver to make a trip to whatever store you happened upon and spend hours driving, browsing and fumbling with the card.

    9) Gift certificates don’t earn interest.

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    Okay, so twenty dollars in cash isn’t going to appreciate much in your 1-2% annual interest savings account, but it’s still more than your certificate. Slowly losing the battle against inflation you can be happy knowing your gift becomes less and less valuable each day before it eventually gets lost or expires.

    10) Gift certificates… aren’t all that bad.

    I’ve been giving gift certificates a hard time. Despite their many flaws, sending cash is still a faux pas by many peoples standards. And despite the lack of logic in preferring one to money, many people still do. Many people actually prefer the colorful little cards to gifts if it means they don’t have a choice at all.

    Besides, when it is Christmas Eve and you still need to buy for a half-dozen more relatives, that card at the checkout counter starts to look a little more attractive. Sure it isn’t as thoughtful as a hand wrapped gift complete with ribbon, but Hallmark cards aren’t as romantic as hand-written poetry, but nobody does that either. You might just have to throw up your hands and give in to the brilliant marketing scheme that are gift certificates.

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    Scott H Young

    Scott is obsessed with personal development. For the last ten years, he's been experimenting to find out how to learn and think better.

    How to Motivate Yourself: 13 Simple Ways to Try Now How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines 18 Tricks to Make New Habits Stick 18 Tips for Killer Presentations

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    Last Updated on January 21, 2020

    5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

    5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

    In the journey of growth, there are times when we grow and excel. We are endlessly driven and hyped up, motivated to get our goals.

    Then there are times when we stagnate. We feel uninspired and unmotivated. We keep procrastinating on our plans. More often than not, we get out of a rut only to get back into another one.

    How do you know if you are stagnating? Here are some tell-tale signs:

    • If you have been experiencing chronic procrastination on your goals
    • If you don’t ever feel like doing anything
    • If you keep turning to sleep, eating, games, mindless activities and entertainment for comfort
    • If you know you should be doing something, but yet you keep avoiding it
    • If you have not achieved anything new or significant now relative to 1 month, 2 months or 3 months ago
    • If you have a deep sense of feeling that you are living under your potential

    When we face stagnation in life, it’s a sign of deeper issues. Stagnancy in life, just like procrastination, is a symptom of a problem. It’s easy to beat ourselves over it, but this approach is not going to help.

    Here, I will share 5 steps to help you move out of this stagnation. They won’t magically transform your life in 1 night (such changes are never permanent because the foundations are not built), but they will help you get the momentum going and help you get back on track.

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    1. Realize You’re Not Alone

    Everyone stagnates at some point or another. You are not alone in this and more importantly, it’s normal. In fact, it’s amazing how many of my clients actually face the same predicament, even though all of them come from different walks of life, are of different ages, and have never crossed paths.

    Realizing you are not alone in this will make it much easier to deal with this period. By trying to “fight it”, you’re only fighting yourself. Accept this situation, acknowledge it, and tell yourself it’s okay. That way, you can then focus on the constructive steps that will really help you.

    2. Find What Inspires You

    Stagnation comes because there isn’t anything that excites you enough to take action. If you don’t have a habit of setting goals, and instead just leave yourself to daily mundanes, it’s not surprising you are experiencing stagnation.

    What do you want to do if there are no limitations? If you can have whatever you want, what will it be? The answers to these questions will provide the fuel that will drive you forward.

    On the other hand, even if you are an experienced goal setter, there are times when the goals you set in the past lose their appeal now. It’s normal and it happens to me too. Sometimes we lose touch with our goals, since we are in a different emotional state compared to when we first set them. Sometimes our priorities change and we no longer want to work on those goals anymore. However, we don’t consciously realize this, and what happens is we procrastinate on our goals until it compounds into a serious problem.

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    If that’s the case for you, it’s time to relook into your goals. There’s no point in pursuing goals that no longer inspire you. Trash away your old goals (or just put them aside) and ask yourself what you really want now. Then go for them.

    3. Give Yourself a Break

    When’s the last time you took a real break for yourself? 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? Never? Perhaps it’s time to take a time-out. Prolonged working can cause someone to become disillusioned as they lose sight of who they are and what they want.

    Go take some extended leave from work. A few days at bare minimum; a few weeks or months will be great. Some of my ex-colleagues have quit their jobs and took months out to do some self-reflection. Of course, some of us might not have that luxury, so we can stick to a few weeks of leave.

    Go on a trip elsewhere and get away from your work and your life. Use this chance to get a renewed perspective of life. Think about your life purpose, what you want and what you want to create for your life in the future.

    These are big questions that require deep thinking over them. It’s not about finding the answers at one go, but about taking the first step to finding the answers.

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    4. Shake up Your Routines

    Being in the same environment, doing the same things over and over again and meeting the same people can make us stagnant. This is especially if the people you spend the most time with are stagnant themselves.

    Change things around. Start with simple things, like taking a different route to work and eating something different for breakfast. Have your lunch with different colleagues, colleagues you never talked much with. Work in a different cubicle if your work has free and easy seating. Do something different than your usual for weekday evenings and weekends. Cultivate different habits, like exercising every day, listening to a new series of podcasts every morning to work, reading a book, etc (here’re 6 Proven Ways To Make New Habits Stick). The different contexts will give you different stimulus, which will trigger off different thoughts and actions in you.

    When I’m in a state of stagnancy, I’ll get a sense of what’s making me stagnate. Sometimes it’s the environment I’m in, sometimes it’s the people I’ve been hanging out with, sometimes it’s my lifestyle. Most of the times it’s a combination of all these. Changing them up helps to stir myself out of the stagnant mode.

    5. Start with a Small Step

    Stagnation also comes from being frozen in fear. Maybe you do want this certain goal, but you aren’t taking action. Are you overwhelmed by the amount of work needed? Are you afraid you will make mistakes? Is the perfectionist in you taking over and paralyzing you?

    Let go of the belief that it has to be perfect. Such a belief is a bane, not a boon. It’s precisely from being open to mistakes and errors that you move forward.

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    Break down what’s before you into very very small steps, then take those small steps, a little step at a time. I had a client who had been stagnating for a long period because he was afraid of failing. He didn’t want to make another move where he would make a mistake. However, not wanting to make a mistake has led him to do absolutely nothing for 2-3 years.

    On the other hand, by doing just something, you would already be making progress, whether it’s a mistake or not. Even if you make a supposed “mistake”,  you get feedback to do things differently in the next step. That’s something you would never have known if you never made a move.

    More to Help You Get Unstuck

    Featured photo credit: Anubhav Saxena via unsplash.com

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