My favorite hobby is collecting Found Money—that’s money I can access outside my regular income. Anything from coupons to credit card points to cash I earn selling my clutter counts as Found Money.”
Found Money #2: Wallet Check! Gift Card Balances
If you’re like me, you have a couple dozen gift cards laying around. I gathered all of my gift cards up and checked the balances. Suprise! I found more than $100—and I didn’t even know I had most of that money hidden on gift cards I had chucked into my nightstand drawer!
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Found Money — Money on gift cards I didn’t know (or remember) I had: $75.72
- I have no idea how I have money on this card. I bought it and used it all for an online purchase. There was a shipping issue, so it’s possible Staples issued a credit they didn’t tell me about.
- I’ll use this to buy free-after-rebate paper so I don’t have to pay cash out of pocket.
$50 Arco Gas Card
- We buy Arco cards at Fry’s in Arizona to save money on gas when we visit California. I thought I had used most of this card on our last trip, but it was fully loaded at $50.
- I’ll use this on our next trip to Disneyland! It’s not exactly free gas since I did buy the gift card at some point, but we won’t pay more out of pocket, and I saved more than 19% buying the gift card (which helps because CA gas is 60 cents more per gallon than AZ gas).
- Frugal tip: Use an Arco gift card to pay with a card at the pump without the ATM convenience fee!
$5 Target Gift Card
- I usually track $5 Target gift cards in my Disneyland Found Money Fund. (Those $5 you earn with “buy 3 get $5”-type purchases.) Since this was in my wallet, it’s new Found Money!
- I’ll put it into the Disneyland Found Money Fund. I’ll cash it in at Target toward a Disney Gift Card.
- Frugal tip: Some Targets aren’t allowing gift card purchases with Target gift cards anymore. If your store is one of those, just buy something needed at Target with your Target gift card. That still saves cash out of pocket so you can buy a Disney gift card with another form of payment—or even better, at the grocery store so you can get 6% cashback plus any grocery store incentives.
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Not Quite Found Money — I knew I had this money, but at least now I know where it is! $57.90
The biggest challenge with Found Money is to never count your Found Money twice!”
- This card had a bit left over from a $30 gift card Lowe’s sent me in apology for a shipping problem. I’ve already accounted for the $30 in my Disneyland Found Money Fund, so this is not Found Money. I do need to use it next time I’m at Lowe’s so I can pay a little less out of pocket.
- This Target gift card is definitely not Found Money. I justified the price of a Christmas gift by subtracting the value of the incentive gift card. I need to use this on needed items I would buy anyway, and pay less out of pocket.
$10 Hat Club (mall store)
- I paid $5 for this gift card during a Christmas promotion. If Jefferson needs a cheap team hat for Little League, I can use the $10 gift card to pay less out of pocket, but I’ll know I only saved $5.
$23.87 Disney Gift Card
- We always buy Disney Gift Cards to pay for everything (including Annual Passes and on-site hotels) for our Disneyland trips. I over-buy whenever there is a grocery store promotion because I know we’ll be back and I want to save 19% or more on every dollar I spend at Disneyland! That is, I don’t want to run out of Disney Gift Cards on a trip and have to pay full price for anything. So, we always come home with some money on gift cards.
A few cents here and there
- I found gift cards for Tilly’s, Sprouts, and Costco. Each gift card only has a few cents left in value, but I can’t find a way to check them online. I’ve put them to the front of my wallet so I can remember to use them up next time I’m at those stores.
Total gift card face value I rounded up by checking the balances on all the gift cards in my wallet: $133.62
Total gift card real value: $128.62 (That Hat Club card is really only worth $5.)
Total Real Found Money: $75.72
More Found Money from All Day Mom:
Get loads more Found Money tips in my book Disneyland on a Budget: How Our Family Spends 30 Days a Year at Disneyland without Breaking the Bank!
What’s in your wallet? How much Found Money do you have on gift cards?