People Who Use Giftcards are Bad

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,


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  1. says


    Don’t you just love it when people make assumptions based on reading a little smidgen that you’ve written?

    Personally, I’m not a fan of any gift cards but that doesn’t give me the right to personally attack you or disregard any benefit it may have to your other readers. 

    Furthermore, I find it difficult to fully appreciate a better than thou, intelligent “opinion” that is laced with an ungodly amount of grammatical errors.

    Nice response.

  2. Meg says

    If his money managing is half as good as his spelling, then sign me up, fella! The world apparently DOES revolve around Canton, Texas.

  3. Noki says

    Some people just have this burning desire to be right.  It doesn’t even matter about what.  The internet is a prime playground for those sorts of people.

    I have a lot of experience with those that spout, “If its not my way, its a crime agains all that is Holy”.  This guy, is definately one of those.

  4. TBF says

    Oh, if I aired very negative situation this blog would be filled with bad stuff. I would much rather discuss shopping and fashion and beauty tips

    When you’re in the public eye people can be SO mean, almost like you’re not even a real person with real feelings. I’m fortunately cause I don’t get very much negative email….

  5. Ginger says

    Wow – his email was not appropriate, and I would suggest he invest in a grammar/spell checker. Perhaps he is jealous because he was not invited to contribute to an article in a major publication. Whatever is problem is, it’s his. I’ve been attacked through email also, and it’s never pleasant. I found your blog a few months ago, and I read it every night. You give us great information, are always fair, and offer information that I can’t find elsewhere. Keep on keepin’ on! :)

  6. says

    Hmmm…wouldn’t a simple “I disagree with your view for the following reasons” have sufficed? Does he not realize that not everyone shares his views…or yours? A-maz-ing.

  7. Rachel says

    Let me just say that I have been to Canton, Texas, and the only places to possibly spend money there are a feed store, a Walmart Supercenter and a Super RV Center.  No wonder he doesn’t like receiving giftcards…

  8. donna says

    Ummm I’m so confused by what his problem is, even with the fees it can be better for some people than going with cash or credit card. The way I can spend money going it with cash or credit card would equal up to much more than if I just paid a few dollars for the gift card and placed a set amount on it.

    Of course because I want to be wise with my spending, I did go for no-fee gift cards for the family this Christmas but just saying if I had to pay fees that would still be much better than going over by spending on a gift that I just have to get so and so.

    Also wouldn’t say it takes away from your knowledge to say you get these for yourself to control spending, not your exact words I’m sure, but that would just show wisdom in weaknesses. Knowing how to set a budget and actually following is two different things seeing a person successful when a weakness exists is what we need rather than a fantasy of someone trying to eliminate problems as if they have none of their own.

  9. Cynthia says

    You should have just sent him a “form” letter. It sounds like he lives for reasons to be offended, so you’d be doing him a favor. 😉

    Seriously though, if he goes through life this way, he’s probably a pretty unhappy man; which is a sad thing. In contrast, you have a great personality, and you have created a unique profession for yourself. You give terrific advice and have many satisfied readers. It’s best not to give letters like his more weight than they deserve.

  10. Kim says

    Okay, no offense intended here, but I think you gave this guy exactly what he was looking for by writing such an abrasive letter—attention. Clearly, he has absolutely no expertise in the subject any nothing else to do. If he’d written a boring run-of-the-mill letter like some have suggested, you might not have responded. He wrote that crabby one, and you responded. Neither of your opinions is “right” (gift cards vs. cash) because there is no right or wrong way to spend your hard-earned cash.

  11. liz says

    The retailer I work for offers employee discounts. However, to use it, you have to either pay cash, check, or their store credit card. You can’t get your discount with a debit card our outside credit.

    Because I’m a student, I don’t want to worry about another credit card. Because I’m busy (like most people) I don’t have time to hit the ATM all the time. The way I get around ruining but credit, and still get my discount, is to load up a gift card. It keeps me in budget and out of debt.

    I agree with TBF, giftcards are great!

  12. sarah says

    Since when is a gift card likened to a credit card?  They are completely different.  Someone read too many self help finance books….. a little paranoid of anything plastic, dont u think?

    Gift cards are prepaid, have no effect on your credit report, have no fees (none that I know of do…)  have no down side, with the exception of money designated only for one store, if you do a store gift card. 

    I think it is a sign of responsibility and maturity to know your weaknesses and takes steps to control them.  How is this different from someone who loves chocolate and knows they can overindulge so they do not buy chocolates for their house.  They know their weakness, and take steps to avoid giving in?

    I commend you for your willpower and think that it is a great tip for shoppers.

    Great blog!!!

  13. Melissa says

    I have been under the assumption that gift cards have been the hot thing lately.[I know DON’T ASSUME] When my best friend husband gets paid she pays the bills that need to be paid that week and then with the left over money,She gets a visa gift card through her bank NO FEES and that is her spending money for the week.This is how she can keep a handle on her money and keeps her from going over in her checking account and when the card is done her shopping is done.I think it is a great idea and for people out there who have trouble with accounts or CC this could work.She knows how to manage $and all of that it just works for her and Iam going to try her technique and see how it goes.

  14. casper says

    i hate visa/mastercard giftcards. i sell them, and i think they are a hassle, a waste of two bucks, and completely thoughless as a gift. seriously, men will come ON THE DAY OF THEIR ANNIVERSARY and buy one for their wife. could anything be less personal? it’s disgusting.

  15. says

    This was a wonderful article and you were right to not let that man (who obviously is stuck in the prehistoric days and is not a frequent shopper) get under your skin. he probably doesn’t have a daughter or any other woman in his life that he cares enough about to teach about the theme of “SAFETY First”.

    I love gift cards, and even if they come as a gift from my man – who quite often finds himself still struggling to find that perfect gift the day before. I’ll take a loaded up gift card over another badly selected gift ANY DAY!!! then he’s happy and I’m happy and life goes on.

  16. Wendy says

    I just found your blog today and I already love it! But wow, has no one ever taught him the danger in carrying too much cash? My mom’s been telling me since I was 10. Gift cards are a nice idea though, I think I should probably get some to stay within my low college-student-budget.

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