Here’s the problem I have with email. It seems like it gives people the right to be mean, rude, and just plain nasty….

Case in point, I received an email from a Mr. Jimmy Hair, who read an article in January’s Reader’s Digest that interviewed me (and several other “experts”) abouts ways to save money and control spending in the New Year (great article by the way) .  I mentioned how I use giftcards to help control spending- particularly when going on major shopping sprees like during the holidays. This piece of advice didn’t sit too well with Mr. Hair.  According to him, giftcards are evil, the editors of Reader’s Digest should be forced to go on one of those team-building retreats in the woods and I should burn a fiery death along with the folks who created the Mastercard commercials for even suggesting that you use giftcards to help control your spending.

What’s interesting is that Mr. Hair has NEVER read the site (or the before mentioned article which states that giftcards can carry fees)- if he did, he would know that my willpower is always challenged- which is how I came up with all my fashion-related money saving tips and advice.  If he read the site, he would have read last week’s post on the Money Magazine article about 35 Outrageous Fees to Avoid including giftcard fees. Yes, some giftcards do charge fees and you should avoid those giftcards like the plague (I actually have a post I’m putting together about what stores have gift cards that charge fees called “Giftcards Gone Bad”). However, no-fee giftcards are still a great option for saving and managing money for several reasons, including:

1. It’s not smart to carry around wads of cash. According to Mr. Hair everyone should carry around wads of cash. If you live in the perfect TV world of Mayberry, USA, sure. But in reality- and this is true whether you live “in da hood” or “in da cornfields”- carrying around wads of cash just isn’t safe. Especially for women.
2. It helps to control your spending. Not everyone is as great a money manager as Mr. Hair. Plus carrying wads of cash doesn’t exactly help you control your spending either.
3. You avoid other, more expensive fees, like credit card overdraft fees, debit card purchase fees, late payment fees, etc. If I had to choose between the $2 dollar fee for the giftcard and the $39 plus $39 fee for credit card overdraft- I would choose the giftcard.

Read Mr. Hair’s email and read my response to his email:

Dear Ms Finney,

I have extreme doubts that you will EVER receive this email personally or that I will EVER get a personal response from you? A response will most likely be answered with a form letter from one of your employee. On the outside chance that I’m wrong in my assumption, Here Goes;

Your article “Shop Smart” in Readers Digest was giving some fair ideas until the last paragraph.
I must say that I was completely shocked at the advice given in reference to prepaid gift cards. You profess to be a Professional Smart Shopper Advisor, then you advocate spending up-front fees for gift cards. Even going so far as to admitting that you have to use gift cards to stay in budget. By this admission you are telling us You do not have even the least amount of Willpower when it comes to Spending Money. But yet You are qualified to give Money Saving Advise. Quite a contradiction in principle to say the least.

Maybe your next article can include some Common Sense Clothing Shopping Advice as well. Such as the age old, proven, simplistic advice of putting a given amount of cash in your purse to go shopping and then when it’s gone its gone. No cards to buy, No up-front fees, No expiration dates, No hidden fees, No Checks to write. Now how did I think of that without a degree in accounting or economics?

I am even more amazed by the fact that Reader’s Digest editors let this article slid by and left that paragraph intact. I will be taking up that point shortly with the Reader’s Digest editors as well.

*********** THINK TRUE SAVINGS CASH POSITIVE *******************************

“The Simplistic Form of Clothing Shopping (CASH) That Incurs NO Fees and No Debt”

*****************************************************************************************************************

I do look forward to receiving your personal comments.

No form letters, Please!
Thank you.

Best regards,

Jimmy Hair
Canton, Texas

______________________________________________________________________________

Thanks Mr. Canton,

Like everything in life, it’s all about the approach and they way you approached me really doesn’t deserve a personal response. It was insulting, demeaning, not factual (most giftcards don’t charge any fees) and very much based on your limited worldview.

Since you appear to be a much better money manager than myself, and according to your email, a better person, I invite you to write an entry for my blog on practical money saving tips that my readers can use. If the entry provides solid factual information and is written well, I will post it with full credit given to you.

In the meantime, I’m going to post your letter to my blog. I’m sure your letter will inspire a great deal of healthy debate.

Happy Shopping, or should I say happy cash spending,

Kathryn