What did you receive for Christmas? If you’re like me, you gave and received some gift cards to favorite restaurants. Also, you may be a subscriber to Groupon, Living Social, or a similar program. You bought the vouchers at deeply-discounted rates. All that remains is enjoying the benefits.

As great as these cards and vouchers are, they are no good if you don’t use them. Each year, billions of dollars worth of gift cards go unused. People lose them or simply forget they have them. A Wall Street Journal article estimated $41 billion in gift cards went unspent between 2005 and 2011. Could you be among those statistics?gift cards

It’s money left on the table. When I tell people, “When you get organized, you save money,” you’re looking at a prime example.

How can you keep from joining this crowd? Wouldn’t it be great if you had a place where you could put these little gems? Wouldn’t it be great if those little cards would periodically hop up and say, “Remember me? Spend me.” The solution is simple, and you can have it today.

Here’s your setup…

All you need is a Tickler File plus one blank file folder. Label this folder “Gift Cards.” Gather the gift cards from Christmas. Scour the various drawers around the house. Look in wallets, purses, and anywhere else you might have put past gift cards. Put them all in your Gift Card folder. As for the Groupons and other vouchers, put them in that same folder. Organize them by expiration date. The voucher expiring first will show up in the front of the folder.

Put the entire folder in the Tickler File for the next time you want to think about gift cards and vouchers. Saturday is a good day for me. Every Saturday morning, the file folder of gift cards and vouchers appears in my Tickler File. That’s my trigger to review the contents and decide which ones I want to use during the next week. You can have the exact same thing.

Pull your selections from the folder. Drop them in the Tickler File for the days you plan to use them during the week. Put the folder in the Tickler File to resurface the next Saturday. That’s it.

Nothing slips through the cracks…

Now, you have a system that handles your remembering for you. Of course, your Tickler File isn’t only reminding you about gift cards and vouchers. That’s just one example. Your Tickler File is housing birthday cards to mail, tickets for concerts to attend, and tons of other paper-based triggers you’ll use all year long.

Pulling the Tickler File for the day is part of your daily routine. Put the gift card folder in the Saturday file, and you have a built-in trigger reminding you to look at your collection. The process can take as little as one minute, and it’s easy.
Every year, people waste billions of dollars because they lose or forget about the free money they have. This year, the situation need not describe you!

Life doesn’t have to be as hard as we make it. Yes, our modern-day world gives us so many things that clamor for our attention. Simple systems make life much more manageable. Take a few minutes today to get a handle on this topic and enjoy the benefits for years to come.