February is a time of reckoning for the budgets many consumers “blew” buying holiday gifts.  Of course, it’s also when we celebrate Valentine’s Day, another big gift-giving event.  But there’s a great way to celebrate Valentine’s Day without breaking your budget any further: use your gift cards!

While actually re-gifting a gift card might not be in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, you can use your gift cards in more subtle, lovable ways.  Did you get a gift card for a restaurant or experience?  You can use it for your Valentine’s Day celebration.

Consider using the gift card you got for a store to purchase something for your Valentine, instead of for yourself.  Worried that the person who gave you the gift card will ask you what you bought? Just tell them you decided to “share the love.”  After all, they gave you the gift card to make you happy, and what would make you happier than the smile on your Valentine’s face when they open the gift you purchased with your gift card.

Perhaps you received a gift card to go to the movies.  Pick a romantic film and make it part of your Valentine’s date night.  Dinner and a movie are popular celebrations, so you may want to pick up your tickets in advance.

What about the gift cards you’ve received in years past for birthdays, graduations or other special events. If you’re like many people, you have a few stuffed in your drawers or in the back of your wallet.  In fact, over $3 billion worth of gift cards go unspent every year.  Now is a great time to see if you can find an unused gift card stashed away somewhere and then use it for a Valentine’s Day gift or celebration.

If you have any gift cards left over after putting them to good use for Valentine’s Day, make sure that you don’t forget about them for the rest of the year.  As a gift to yourself, create a system to keep your gift cards handy so you remember to use them.  Putting them in a ziplock back and keeping them in your car’s glove compartment is one simple solution to always have them accessible when you’re out and about.  Or check out these other easy means to always remember to USE YOUR GIFT CARD.

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