Posted by: gregboyko | July 21, 2006

Spending $50 can be pretty hard…

Back in April I posted about switching over to Qwest DSL, and one of the promotions they offered was a $50 Visa gift card. Well, the card was set to expire on July 30, so Gretchen and I set about figuring out how to spend it. It was much more difficult that you might think.
What makes spending a $50 gift card so difficult? The answer is in the constraints by which one must abide:
  • Online purchases are diffucult because the total amount must either be below $50 (leaving money left on the card, which is undesireable), or you’ll need to work with a person to split the total between two different cards.
  • Ideally one should stay fairly close to $50. You don’t want to leave money left on the card, and you don’t want to spend a lot more (although if its something you might have bought anyway, you’re still OK).
  • Two people need to agree on one purchase. Gretchen and I don’t always agree on what is a "fun" purchase.
  • Shopping with a 3-year old and a 9-month old is challenging, and shopping trips often need to be shortened prematurely.
  • You have to remember to use the card!
The original plan (at least as I remember it) was to buy one of those ionic air purifiers. We did that back in May, but we forgot to use the gift card. So now we have the air purifier and still need to spend the $50. We considered using it to buy gas or groceries, but that just didn’t seem right. This was a gift card, after all. We should use it to buy something at least a little fun/frivolous. We talked about putting the $50 towards some new bedding (we recently bought a SelectComfort bed), but as I recall, we forgot to use the card again.
We basically forgot about the card until a couple days ago when I decided we better check the expiration date. Sure enough we had to use it or lose it within two weeks. It tooks us three shopping trips to finally settle on a purchase. Initially, we were looking at a Nintendo DS Lite. We probably would have got one had we been able to find one in stock locally. It’s probably a good thing we didn’t get the nintendo. Even though Josh (and I) would have liked it and it would have been great for traveling, at $160 (with a game) it was a bit more than we wanted to spend on a toy. We’ve been wanting some new lamps for our house, and if we would have found some we liked we probably would have got lamps, although I just couldn’t get excited about new lamps, so I’m glad we didn’t find anything we liked. Finally, while looking for lamps (at Target, our second lamp stop) we came across the vacuum cleaner section and I suggested a new vacuum. Our vacuum is pretty old, and a nice, new, high-tech vacuum appealed to my gadget-loving side as well as Gretchen’s practical side so we began looking at the different models. We found one we liked, but it was (of course) out of stock. We checked Wal-Mart to see if they’d have it in stock. They didn’t, but it was starting to get towards the kids’ bedtimes and if we didn’t use the gift card tonight we would have both been very disappointed. So we kept looking at the different vacuum cleaner models and finally decided to buy this Dirt Devil (in Blue). Whew! What a relief to have finally spent that $50!
We haven’t tried the new vacuum yet, but I was pleasantly surprised by the great customer reviews on Amazon. I expect it will clean very well, and the bagless design with the lifetime washable HEPA filter are great features that will save a lot of money on supplies in the long run.
Sure, we ended up spending as much on the vacuum as we would have on the nintendo, but the vacuum is really a much smarter purchase. Even Josh will love the new vacuum–vacuuming on Friday’s is one of his favorite weekly rituals. 🙂 I must admit, however, that a new gaming system (like the ds lite) definitely appeals to me. If I had time to play games, I’d probably already have an xbox 360. Maybe later….

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