The holidays are over, and you probably have a pile of much-appreciated gifts and a few…questionable items. Whether it’s not your taste or you need the money, why not return those white elephants for another purpose? When budgeting and credit repair are on your to do-list, you can’t afford to be complacent. If you’re still not sure whether to return your gift, be sure to consider:
- Its personal value. You shouldn’t sell a family heirloom, but what about an unwanted bread-maker? Before making a return, think about the gift’s personal value and use. Will you enjoy it for years, or will it collect dust in the back of your closet?
- Its material value. What’s the bottom line? If you’re on the fence about a return, sometimes the retail value can tip the scales. For example, suppose your aunt gave you a cashmere sweater, retail value: $298. Now suppose your mother gave you a cotton sweater, retail value: $41. Which are you more likely to return?
- Your financial needs. Is your bank account suffering? Do you have overdue bills or credit card debt? How do these factors affect your decision to return gifts? While you may want that cashmere sweater, you may also need $298 to pay a credit card bill or medical debt.
So, now that you’ve decided which gifts to return, follow the steps below to get the best deal.
1. Check the store’s return policy. Before returning that sweater, check the store’s policy. Some retailers require a gift receipt for a refund, while others only offer store credit. If it’s the latter, call the store to see if they’ll make an exception. Sometimes managers can override policies if a customer asks. In the end, the customer is always right. Use this old adage to your advantage.
2. Weigh the benefits of cash vs. store credit. Suppose you received a $300 Toshiba laptop from Best Buy. The problem is, you only use Apple products. You consider returning the computer for a refund but remember that you need to buy a new camera in the next few months. What do you do?
There are a few questions to consider in this case:
- How long does the store allow me to secure a refund? In Best Buy’s case, it’s January 15 for holiday purchases.
- Do I intend to make a purchase exclusively from Best Buy?
- Can I find a better deal elsewhere?
Answer these questions to determine your final answer. Make an objective choice.
3. Sell your gift cards. Refunds are difficult when a gift card is your currency. Still, call the store and see if they’ll turn your credit into cash. If not, consider selling your card for a small discount via Amazon.com or Cardpool. Don’t allow unwanted cards to expire in a junk drawer. Use your gift to improve your finances and focus on credit repair.