Christmas is over, most of the financial damage from holiday spending is done. Here are some tips to help you get back on track:
1. Return unwanted gifts promptly. No use keeping something that doesn’t fit or cluttering your life with items you’ll never use. Turn them into cash or exchange them for something you really want or need. Many stores have restricted refund policies, so maximize the value of these new possessions by getting this task done as soon as possible.
2. Return unused decorations and party supplies. Some stores have “all sales final” policies on seasonal items; if so, put these away where you’ll remember to use them next year. Holiday cards and wrapping paper will still be good for another Christmas. But maybe you bought extra cases of soda or bottled water for a holiday gathering, and now you’re stuck with more than you’ll ever drink? See if the store will take them back.
3. Use gift cards promptly, before they get lost or the value expires. What if you received a gift card for a store or restaurant you don’t patronize? There are a number of websites where you can sell or exchange them online.
4. If you received cash or checks as gifts, deposit the money right away. You can decide later if you want to treat yourself to something you really want, or use the funds to pay off holiday bills first.
5. If you’ve put your holiday purchases on a credit card that offers reward points, see if you’ve earned enough to cash in. Redeem those rewards before they expire or the program changes and the benefits are devalued.
6. Purge your holiday greeting card list. Update addresses that have changed since last year. If a card was returned as undeliverable, remove that person from your list until you make contact again. Next year, you’ll save yourself some cards, time, and postage.
7. Clean out your closets, including unwanted gifts you can’t exchange. Pack everything up and donate it to a local charity. Get a receipt so you can take a deduction on your 2017 income tax return.
What tips do you have for mitigating the bite of holiday expenses? I'd love to hear your comments.