If you got a gift card for Christmas, spend it!  You'd be surprised how many gift cards go unused, and that just leaves free money on the table.  Oh, and I bet you have a hunch which gender is best at gift-card spending.

Maybe you've got a system that helps you keep track of gift cards and that ensures you'll get the balance down to zero in no time.  I do.  If I don't spend a gift card within a week of receiving it, alarms start going off in my head and holes are burned in my handbag, and I start feeling the need to take a half day off work to get out and spend that plastic money.  If I don't spend a gift card in a hurry I feel like I'll forget it's there, and I'll lose the opportunity to get free coffee and picture frames and things.

I ran across a survey that said twenty percent of us forget to spend gift cards. In other words, if you gave out several gift cards for Christmas, 1 in 5 of the people who received them will never use the currency.  In those cases, we're better off keeping the gift cards for ourselves.  Maybe it's the store they're not crazy about and that's why the gift cards are never redeemed, but I think I could find something I like in any store if it's free.

The survey also said men are the most likely gender to forget to spend a gift card.  Twenty-three percent of men forget to spend gift cards, while seventeen percent of women do.  Guys, give your gift cards to your wives and you will dramatically increase the odds of using those things up.

When I put gift cards in my wallet right next to my cash and debit cards, and it sure is a lot harder to forget them. I'll be out later today getting yoga pants, drawer organizers, and lattes, all with gift cards.

The day after Christmas is one of the biggest gift-card shopping days of the year, and it's a shopping spree that never impacts our personal bank accounts.  And if you just don't like the gift card, check out a gift card exchange and trade it in for cash.  It's better than leaving that fun money on the table.

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