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Money Tips: Post-Holiday Shopping

Money Tips: Post-Holiday Shopping

With the holidays behind us and the great gift exchange now over, you may have received some less-than-magical gifts that you’d like to return and perhaps a few gift cards to spend.  Whether visiting the mall or doing online returns, follow these simple tips to make your post-holiday shopping experience a pleasant, efficient, and hassle-free one.
  1. Save receipts and be aware of receipt dates.  Without an original sales or gift receipt, it is usually difficult if not impossible to return an item for a cash refund.  Some retailers will offer customers without receipts a store credit.  However, the credit will most likely be for the item’s current value which may be very low due to sale and clearance markdowns.  With that in mind, hold on to all receipts until you’re sure about an item.  If you do intend to return or exchange something, pay attention to expiration dates.  Every store’s return requirements vary – some are 15 days, some are 30 or 90 and others are up to a year.  Remember that when returning online gifts such as those from, you may have to send them back in the mail which will require extra time.
  1. Keep gift cards in a safe spot.  During the excitement of the holidays, it is not uncommon for gifts (especially smaller items like gift cards) to get lost or misplaced in a flurry of wrapping paper.  Once everything settles down, take stock of your gifts and place gift cards in a safe place like a dresser drawer or your wallet, taking note of any expiration dates. 
  1. Get to the store early to avoid long lines.  Although the holidays are over, the shopping frenzy continues.  Make shopping easier and more enjoyable by arriving at stores when they open in the morning.  Crowds will be thinner, lines will be shorter, and merchandise will be more organized.  You’ll have your shopping completed by lunch time when many people are just preparing to venture out.
  1. Go for a store credit when doing returns and take advantage of after-holiday sales.  If you received an item from one of your favorite stores, it might make sense to return it for a store credit rather than insisting on cash.  With sales on everything from clothing to electronics, you can take advantage of some great deals and apply your new found credit to make the discounted price even lower.
  1. Donate any unwanted merchandise that cannot be returned.  If you find you have some items with somewhat restrictive return policies and you’d rather not hold onto them for the purpose of re-gifting, continue the spirit of holiday giving by donating them.  Whether giving that duplicate sweater to your cashmere-loving best friend or donating an extra fleece blanket to the local shelter, you and the recipient will benefit from your generosity.  
To avoid getting stuck with unwanted presents or expired gift cards and make the most of this post-holiday shopping season, be mindful and shop smart.  Why not start the New Year off right with some new merchandise or maybe a little extra cash in your pocket?
By Cyndi Cohen
Published December 28, 2011
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