If you're giving or receiving gift cards this holiday season, you're part of a popular trend.
According to the National Retail Federation, more than 80 percent of consumers will purchase gift cards this year and spend $28.29 billion in the process.
But what if Uncle Bill and Aunt Doris mailed you a card for a restaurant that's an hour drive from your home? Or Grandma Lil bought you an iTunes card and you carry an Android in your case.
If you'd prefer cash, you can resell your card on sites like PlasticJungle.com, CouponTrade.com or GiftCardGranny.com.
Most cards sell at a 5-10 percent discount, which makes these sites a great place to buy gifts, too.
Just remember to pay close attention to the balance on the card before purchasing. It'd be mighty embarrassing if your gift recipient shows up at the department store cash register to buy a perfectly priced $50 sweater with your gift card and there's only a balance of $24 left.
But that's assuming the card gets used at all. According to the Wall Street Journal, many people forget about gift cards after the holiday hoopla. From 2005 to 2011, the Journal estimates $41 billion on gift cards went unspent.
So, dig through your drawers and check every pocket in your purse or wallet. You may still have time to redeem those cards from several years ago.
Recent legislation requires that merchant and bank-issued gift cards must now remain valid for five years. Reloadable cards can expire five years after money was last added.
After several days of reheating spaghetti sauce and cooking bacon, our microwave was looking like the non-walking wounded.
Here's a quick tip to melt away the mess:
Fill a small bowl with two-thirds water and one-third white vinegar. Heat the mixture on high until boiling — about 5-7 minutes, depending on the wattage of your microwave. The vinegar will soften hardened particles and steam away the grime. Wipe the inside of the door, walls and top with a cloth or paper towel.
If you're battling really stubborn stains, dip your cloth into the mixture and scrub.
Whole lotta' holiday
Kevin Kaiser of Spring Lake Township submitted this idea for stretching the season:
“If your company gives you both Christmas Eve and Day, plus New Year's Eve and Day, take off the three days in between. This will give you almost two weeks off from work for not that much vacation.”
Have some household hints or savings secrets of your own you'd like to share? We'd love to hear from you. E-mail your suggestions to Marie Havenga at email@example.com. Include your name, address and phone number. You may also snail-mail ideas to: Trib Tips, 101 N. Third St., Grand Haven, MI 49417; or call 616-847-2628.