Mom uses discounted gift cards to max savings
HOUSTON No credit cards, no debit cards, no checks or cash. It's all gift cards. A mom says by combining discounted gift cards with coupons, she has managed to save more than $200 in one month. Whether she's shopping at Target for groceries, picking up some accessories at Best Buy, even filling up at the pump, Ashley Grimaldo is paying with gift cards. "I have two kids, a two-year-old and a one-year-old. I have one on the way one in August, so we are looking to save money," Grimaldo said. So the stay-at-home mom challenged herself to use discounted gift cards she purchased online as a way to keep her under budget. "Overall, we've saved 10 percent off of everything," she said. So what is Grimaldo's savings potential? For one month she saved $206. At that rate for an entire year, she could save $2,554 and for a decade, $32,000. "That sends one of my three kids to college," she said. You can buy discounted gift cards at sites like giftcardgranny.com, cardpool.com and plasticjungle.com. Grimaldo scooped a Home Depot gift card for 8 percent off, a Babies-R-Us gift card for 9 percent off and an Ann Taylor Loft gift card for 20 percent off. Then on top of that discount, Grimaldo maximizes her savings by using store and manufacturer coupons. "You are looking at 20 percent off," she said. Some things to keep in mind: Be sure you know exactly what kind of gift cards you are getting. A "return" merchandise credit may have restrictions. "A reputable resale card site will tell you if it's a merchandise credit or a gift card and where you can use that card," Grimaldo said. Also, look for expiration dates and any fees if you don't use them within the time frame. Some of the best returns you can get on gift cards are from eBay auctions, but Grimaldo has a warning for anyone who decides to go that route. "The card seller does not guarantee it as well as a dedicated gift card resale site, so make sure your seller on eBay is reputable," she said. Some of the best returns are high-end restaurants like Morton's Steak House. You can get you around 20 percent off the value of the card. On the low side, you'll get 3 percent off at Walmart and gas stations gift cards.