How To Get The Most Out Of Your Holiday Haul

Now that the holidays are over, it’s time to take a closer look at your holiday haul and figure out just exactly what to do with everything. Every year we all get presents that we end up not really needing or simply have no interest in possessing. Giving gifts is really about the thought behind it, but even so, I’m sure you often find yourself wondering, “What did you think I would need this for?” when you open a new road atlas from Dad or a Snuggie from grandma.

Then there are also gifts you probably received that you will simply not use for some time, like a propane grill or patio furniture. Regardless of which gifts came from whom, or which ones you will never end up using against those you will use all the time, figuring out what to do with everything is a major chore. That being the case, you should consider getting into it before you find yourself a few months into the New Year. Here are few tips to help get you started.

1. Prepare for future headaches.

If you received larger items like computers and television sets, it is probably in your best interest to write down the manufacturer’s details (number, serial number, and product model number) before you install it on the wall and it becomes an even bigger pain to have to find when it breaks. Repairs can be much simpler and much cheaper if you have some simple information handy. You can also keep a copy of the receipt that reflects the monetary value, the date of purchase, and the store location. This information will come in handy if you ever have to call customer service.

2. Note warranty details.

Going off of the last point, if your gifts came with any warranties, it is in your best interest to be a responsible consumer and read through the details, highlighting the important notes in case you ever have to make a claim in the future. If you ever have to call customer service or make a claim regarding your warranty, also be sure to note the person who handled your issue, what you discussed, what was resolved, and the date that you called. This will be useful in future interactions if you continue to experience issues with the product.

3. Return or exchange gifts ASAP.

For those gifts that you plan on returning or exchanging, taking care of it now is really your best bet for getting the most for your dollar. If you wait more than a month or two to return any unwanted items, the chances of them reimbursing you decreases greatly, especially for the full amount. Also, be sure to keep a copy of the receipt (if you have it). If you go to return an item without a receipt you might lose out on a full reimbursement because the store will only offer you the current valued price for that item, even if it was more expensive when you bought it.

4. Sell replaceable items.

Another way to get some quick cash for January and to get you back on track for the New Year is by selling items that you can now replace with your new holiday gifts. For example, if you got a new TV or computer, you can sell your old ones, either online or to a second-hand manufacturer or distributor.  If you sell back a computer, just be sure to save any stored data on a flash drive and then clear the memory.

5. Donate unwanted gifts.

Giving your unwanted or unneeded gifts to a charitable or non-profit organization like Good Will is also a good way to save money in the New Year. Charitable donations can be written off come tax season (which is also sneaking up on us!), and anytime of the year is a good time for helping those less fortunate than yourself. So before you stick all of your unwanted gear on eBay, consider donating first.

6. Use gift cards now.

A good way to jump on saving after the holidays is by utilizing all of those gift cards that Santa brought you this year. This goes for store-specific cards like Best Buy, Macy’s, or Outback Steak House and flexible gift cards like Groupon, American Express, or Visa. Flexible gift cards are usually accepted at any store that also takes credit and debit card transactions, and using those restaurant cards is a great way to save on your New Year plans.

7. Inspect gifts before storage.

In some cases, you will have to store some items away until the weather warms up or an appropriate holiday comes around for you to use the item(s) in question. Before you move everything into the garage or attic, however, you should go ahead and open the packaging just to check for things like damage, missing components, and product or warranty details. This will help protect you from the headache of opening something a few months later, only to find you have waited too long to get reimbursed or to utilize your warranty if it doesn’t work properly or there are pieces missing.