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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.

    15 Ways to Cultivate Continuous Learning for a Sharper Brain 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines How to Motivate Yourself: 13 Simple Ways You Can Try Right Now 18 Tricks to Make New Habits Stick 18 Tips for Killer Presentations

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    Last Updated on October 15, 2019

    How to Plan Your Life Goals and Actually Achieve Them in 7 Simple Steps

    How to Plan Your Life Goals and Actually Achieve Them in 7 Simple Steps

    Where do you want to be 5 years from now, 10 years from now, or even this time next year? These places are your goal destinations and although you might know that you don’t want to be standing still in the same place as you are now, it’s not always easy to identify what your real goals are.

    Many people think that setting a goal destination is having a dream that is there in the far distant future but will never be attained. This proves to be a self-fulfilling prophesy because of two things:

    Firstly, that the goal isn’t specifically defined enough in the first place; and secondly, it remains a remote dream waiting for action which is never taken.

    Defining your goal destination is something that you need to take some time to think carefully about. The following steps on how to plan your life goals should get you started on a journey to your destination:

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    1. Make a list of your goal destinations

    Goal destinations are the things that are important to you. Another word for them would be ambitions, but ambitions sound like something which outside of your grasp, whereas goal destinations are certainly achievable if you are willing to put in the effort working towards them.

    So what do you really want to do with your life? What are the main things that you would like to accomplish with your life? What is it that you would really regret not doing if you suddenly found you had a limited amount of time left on the earth?

    Each of these things is a goal. Define each goal destination in one sentence.

    If any of these goals is a stepping stone to another one of the goals, take it off this list as it isn’t a goal destination.

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    2. Think about the time frame to have the goal accomplished

    This is where the 5 year, 10 year, next year plan comes into it.

    Some goals will have a “shelf life” because of age, health, finance, etc, whereas others will be up to you as to when you would like to achieve them by.

    3. Write down your goals clearly

    Write each goal destination at the top of a new piece of paper.

    For each goal, write down what is it that you need and don’t have now that will allow you achieve that goal. This could be some kind of education, career change, finance, a new skill, etc. Any “stepping stone” goals you removed will fit into this exercise. If any of these smaller “goals” have sub-goals, go through the same process with these so that you have precise action points to work with.

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    4. Write down what you need to do for each goal

    Under each item listed, write down the things that you will need to do in order to complete each of the steps required to complete the goal. 

    These items will become a check-list. They are a tangible way of checking how you are progressing towards reaching your goal destinations. A record of your success!

    5. Write down your timeframe with specific and realistic dates

    Using the time frames you created, on each goal destination sheet write down the year in which you will complete the goal by.

    For any goal which has no fixed completion date, think about when you would like to have accomplished it by and use that as your destination date.

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    Work within the time frames for each goal destination, make a note of realistic dates by which you will complete each of the small steps.

    6. Schedule your to-dos

    Now take an overview of all your goal destinations and make a schedule of what you need to do this week, this month, this year – in order to progress along the road towards your goal destinations.

    Write these action points on a schedule so that you have definite dates on which to do things.

    7. Review your progress

    At the end of the year, review what you have done this year, mark things off the check-lists for each goal destination and write up the schedule with the action points you need for the next year.

    Although it may take you several years to, for example, get the promotion you desire because you first need to get the MBA which means getting a job with more money to allow you to finance a part-time degree course, you will ultimately be successful in achieving your goal destination because you have planned out not only what you want, but how to get it, and have been pro-active towards achieving it.

    Featured photo credit: Debby Hudson via unsplash.com

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