Gearing Up for The Gift Card Granny Challenge

I am a kid on Christmas morning! Seriously, I'm jumping around in pjs doing a weird Irish jig while my two-year-old stares at me. The gift cards are assembled, shiny and ready to swipe for Gift Card Granny's Challenge.

Here they are in all their splendid plasticity!

Gift Card Granny Challenge - Gift Card Lineup

Take a guess as to which one's my favorite. Hmm?

Discount Ann Taylor Gift Card

Since these have odd remaining balances, and I'm stunted with pregnancy-induced amnesia, the first thing I did was mark the balance of each card with a permanent marker, like so:

Ann Taylor Gift Card Balance

And as I spend them I plan to update the balance on the card with my keychain Sharpie. We'll see how that works out with frequently used cards like Albertson's and Shell Gas. My aim is to spend around $1400 this month, for things I've been saving for like landscaping and interior painting as well as the regulars--food, gas, clothing, entertainment.

I'm beyond proud of my planning prowess for this, since that is one my biggest weaknesses in the credit card world. I've also managed to look beyond tomorrow in planning for birthdays, baby showers, and house projects. Impressed?

Oddly enough the gift cards aren't burning a meteor-sized hole in my pocket, like I thought they would. Using only gift cards has really forced me to make a strict budget, so each dollar is accounted for on paper. But I live with two small children and a spontaneous hubby, so I'll keep expectations to a minimum. I still have some room to purchase an additional card or two if the need arises.

I'm torn as to if I should carry them around at all times or only take a couple with me out of the house. Most of them are registered, but I'd hate to think about losing and then replacing cards in mid-stream since I don't have any more cash for expenses while I wait. Still debating on this one.

Let's get something clear about this list. I'm usually a super frugal person when it comes to buying non-food items like clothing. So while this month may look like a huge budget and extravagant spending, I've been preparing for this for quite some time, saving up for gift cards and buying them as they hit rock-bottom prices. And my poor son has been making do with high-water pants for a while too. I'm making all my purchases for several months in one, but the same principle of buying used gift cards to save money applies if you spread out spending over time.

The great thing about gift cards is they are controlled spending without uninsurability aspects of cash. I planned for everything I'll need and how much those things will cost, and so I'm automatically shaving dollars off the top before sales and deals.

Let's get to it already!


- Ashley