As many of you probably know, Bing is officially gone as of July 31st. (A moment of silence, please.) I know a lot of eBay buyers will miss the 8% cash back they receive. In fact, with the deadline looming not too far ahead, I’ve started wondering whether I’m making a big mistake by letting it pass without stocking up on gift cards.
Of course, Mr. Rebates will still net you 3% cash back on your eBay purchases. That won’t be ending, plus you get it on regular auctions, not just the “Buy It Now” type.
Still, as much as I love Mr. Rebates, 3% just doesn’t sound as impressive as 8%. Sad but true. And so, as the door to this opportunity closes, I find myself wondering if I should take advantage before it’s too late.
The real question, though, is how the GCs will get spent.
It’s easy to start thinking of a gift card as free money — especially if you don’t pay full price. That can easily lead to indulging in items because your card has a balance.
I know that if we got any restaurant gift cards, we’d use them up in no time. It’s just too tempting to know that there’s a “free” meal out there.
I looked at a few stores that carry Tim’s Philosophy products. Saving on that is always welcome. But there are two problems there:
- It’s just too easy to work other items onto the gift card. At Macy’s, it could be clothes or jewelry. At Sephora, it would probably be some new shade of makeup. (I’m a sucker, and I freely admit it.)
- Gift cards encourage brand loyalty to a non-frugal extreme.
To clarify that last point a bit, I just want to say that financial psychology, as ever, is quite different from financial logic.
Logically, if I see a good chance to stock up on Philosophy somewhere, it shouldn’t matter if I already have a gift card for Sephora. Whether or not money has already been spent, it’s still up to us to make sure those funds are used wisely. So, I should buy the products where there’s a sale, and wait for a similarly good deal at Sephora. Then I can get the most bang for my buck.
But, instead, I think about how much money I’ve already spent to get a good deal on Philosophy products. So why would I want to spend even more? Especially since I didn’t pay retail price for the gift card to begin with?
I should add that this is a bigger deal than you might think, depending on your state’s sales tax rates. Here, they just got raised to 9.3% — so shopping at online stores essentially saves 10% immediately.
It’s probably clear to you, I’ve more or less abandoned the whole gift card idea. At least, I don’t want to let the time crunch pressure me into spending to save. And time-related pressure is what eBay excels at, after all.
I wonder how many people buying these cards on eBay are saving money. If the freedom of the gift card means you get two or three things you otherwise wouldn’t have, you will quickly negate the savings. In fact, it may mean you spend more than you would have otherwise.
Isn’t it kind of interesting how quickly a “savings” opportunity can turn into unnecessary consumerism?