Family or Marriage Finances & Money

Married? You might want to check for forgotten gifts

We were married over 5 years ago, but we’ve held onto all of the cards we received as gifts, and each year we find a new surprise.

After our wedding, while our two families were still in town together (they live 1.5 hours apart), we opened our gifts and cataloged everything for when we sent out thank you cards. We left for our honeymoon the next day, so it was a big rush to gather everything up, get back to Maryland, unload, grab our luggage and get to the airport for our flight to Ireland.

Well, apparently we didn’t grab all the cash/checks/gift cards from the cards and we continue to find money each time we go through the cards (or find more cards placed elsewhere). For instance, last year we found a $50 Target gift card that still had all its value. The year before we found a $25 check (that we didn’t cash since we didn’t want to pay fees in case it bounced).

Well, this week we found a card with a $100 check from one of my college friends. Five and a half years ago, Stacie didn’t have a job, and I was making less than half of my current salary. We had probably $80,000 in debt, so any money we could find helped tremendously. In addition, the friend who gave us the gift couldn’t be called rich by any means, so $100 was a big gift from her.

While I haven’t maintained good contact with this friend over the years, I did feel required to tell her we found the check, in case she wondered why we never cashed it.

I was tempted to ask whether the account was still open, but then I think that’s a pretty improper question. And I’m not going to try to cash it because of 1) potential bounced check fees and 2) I remember the Seinfeld episode where he cashed all of is grandma’s birthday gifts and he put her in the poor house. I think my friend has long forgotten the check and isn’t tracking it anymore, so I wouldn’t want her to miss a payment on something because I wanted the money.

So the lesson to all of you who are married or are planning it is to check ALL your cards for gifts, take them out and keep them ALL together. Oh, and deposit the money ASAP!

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Clever Dude


  • When we did our gifts, we opened the gift and took out whatever was in the envelope and immediately put it into a pile and wrote down the gift in our tracking book. Every 5-10 gifts we’d do a count of everything to make sure our totals matched, and also made sure we didn’t improperly record anybody’s gift.

    I can only hope that you did indeed get a thank you out to the people whose checks you didn’t spend, though I’m sure that probably still raised some eyebrows when the check went uncashed.

  • My husband and I are in the midst of packing up our things in preparation for a move and I went to open a box and discovered a card with a check slipped inside the box! We were married nearly two years ago and I didn’t want to cause any problems like you mentioned nor did I think I could cash it since it’s such an old check so I just let my friend know and asked her what she’d like us to do with the check. This just happened yesterday so your post is very timely. 🙂

  • haha, that is awesome. and I agree on depositing the gifts ASAP so it clears nice and fast for the giving parties involved. my wife thinks it looks sorta rude if you cash it right away like that, but it drive me crazy when people don’t cash my checks right away so I like to do that for people 😉

    good call on not cashing it after 5 years too, that would make your surprise give them an even bigger one!

  • Just a thought….you keep saying “the fees if it bounches” why not just go to the issuing bank to see if there is sufficient funds? I get it if you just think it is rude, but if it is cause of the fees you can get around that problem.

  • @My Journey, you’re right that I do think it would be rude. If it was anything less than about 18 months, I would probably just ask the friend if it’s ok to cash it now. But it’s over 5 years since the wedding and I can’t really put into words why I feel it’s wrong to cash it this late, but it does just feel wrong.

  • The key in this story is how you’ve improved your finances over that time span. Just imagine how bad you would want to cash that check if you were still in that financial bleakness. It’s a testament to your family’s commitment to a better life and a better marriage. I can certainly relate because my wife and I were in the same position a couple of years ago. Great call and I enjoy your blog!

  • Checks over 6 months old are considered stale-dated by banks and shouldn’t be accepted… the bank that the check is written off of can reject the check, then the bank you deposited it at could be out the money. More like YOU could be out the money… but…

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