I love gift cards. If you’re careful, they can be good for gifts, especially gift certificates for experiences—dinner, massages, skydiving, etc. (If you’re not careful, it can come across as thoughtless.)
Where I really love gift cards, though, is Costco. For $80, I can buy $100 in gift cards to my favorite restaurants, golf courses, and even the iTunes Store.
Like anything you buy at Costco, it’s only a deal if you’re going to use it. For gift cards, a large part of that is not losing it or sticking it someplace safe only to forget about it. It’s one thing to lose a gift card you receive, but when you lose one you buy, that’s just money out the door.
Fortunately, there’s an easy way you can integrate gift cards, gift certificates, and coupons into your trusted system. Once again, Evernote is your friend.
First, create a new notebook in Evernote. I called mine “Coupons” since I use the same workflow for gift cards, coupons, and gift certificates. Conceptually, this is my digital equivalent of the coupon organizer wallet my mother used.
Now for each gift card you’re tracking, create a new note:
Summarize the card in the title. Enter
$25 Cafe Nervosaor
$10 off $40+ Pizza Planetfor the note’s title. Keep it short. You’ll be skimming this in a list.
Record the expiration date. If the coupon has an expiration date, add a reminder with a due date to the note. This will help you notice coupons that will expire soon and coupons that have recently expired and need cleaned out. (Most gifts cards don’t have expiration dates; be sure to note if it does. If it charges a maintenance fee, schedule time now to go out and use the card. Now! Go!))
Tag it. Add a
coupontag to the note. You can also use tags like
diningif you need the extra organization.
Add more details in the note. If there is any salient information on the card or coupon, capture it in the note so you don’t have to dig up the original to check something. Snap a picture from within Evernote, scan it, or transcribe it.
File it where you’ll find it. Have one place where you store your coupons and gift cards. They can be stored together or separately, but when it’s time to use it, you want to know exactly where to find it. If the coupon will be stored in a different place for some reason, note its location in the note.
I keep my coupons in a hanging file in my desk. (If I used more grocery coupons, I’d get a dedicated organizer I could grab and take to the store.) Gift cards go in an old wallet.
When you’re getting ready to run errands, planning your shopping for the week, or deciding where to go for dinner on Friday night, you can pull up your Coupons notebook and review the coupons and gift cards you have on hand. When you’ve used it, don’t forget to delete it.