How Chicago Residents Can Improve Finances With Gift Cards This Christmas

What if you could stretch the Christmas magic beyond December 25? It's possible with gift cards.

Not that gift cards are anything new, of course. Americans requested plastic cards more than any other present this year, according to the National Retail Federation. Not surprisingly, when money is tight, most of us would rather have the ability to choose gifts we actually need rather than receive things we may have no use for. But you can get more bang for your buck by using those gift cards strategically, according to Chicago bankruptcy attorneys. recently offered up some common sense tips for stretching your gift card dollars. The problem with gift cards is that we tend to treat them like gifts, not money - even when we're in need of cash. Because of this, it's easy to splurge on the first bright, shiny object we come across when shopping, without taking into account how much actual utility we'll get from our purchase once the holidays are over.

For instance, by browsing the clearance racks, you can probably buy five on-sale shirts for the price of one brand new shirt. But maybe you already have plenty of clothes - what you need is a DVD player. You can go to a gift card exchange website like PlasticJungle and trade your Old Navy card for a Best Buy card.

Thanks to new consumer protection laws, we no longer have to worry as much about expiration dates or inactivity fees on gift cards, but it's still a good idea to check the fine print just in case. And keep your cards with you - they won't do any good if you forget about them or lose them.

Used wisely, a gift card really can be the gift that keeps on giving - at least for awhile. But there's a gift you can give yourself that will last even longer - financial freedom. If you're sick and tired of barely scraping by because debt is running your life, it's time to make a plan to take back control. Bankruptcy is a guaranteed way to lower your debt obligation - and right now, filing your bankruptcy case with DebtStoppers is only $300. Want to know more? Consider signing up for a free one-on-one debt analysis with a Chicago bankruptcy attorney today.

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