Read Full Article here… lifehacker.com

Photo: Lipa23 (Shutterstock) Depending who they’re from, gift cards can be a lovely gift. (Read: Not from a life partner, who should intuitively know you want the Ninja AF101 Air Fryer with auto-shutoff and 30 included recipes.) Gift cards take up little space and allow you to shop guilt-free—perhaps even splurge on yourself—because hey, free money. But there are a few ways you can easily lose or diminish their value without meaning to. Avoid these pitfalls if you want to take full advantage of all the dopamine those tiny plastic cards have to offer. Use them as soon as possible It may be tempting to hold onto that gift card for just the right moment, or because you were always taught to save for a rainy day and you don’t want to spend it “too soon.” But that’s not the best strategy with a gift card. The store may go out of business, file for bankruptcy, or shut down all their stores within a 50-mile radius of your home. (Gonna miss you, Lord & Taylor.) Also? You may forget about or misplace them. According to financial services research firm CEB TowerGroup , in 2015 approximately $1 billion in gift card value went unused, largely due to them being lost, forgotten, or tucked away with value still remaining after an initial purchase. So don’t store it in a drawer, waiting for inspiration to strike. (She says, staring forlornly at an envelope of cards received a decade ago, for stores that […]