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With the holidays in your rear view, you’re probably loaded up with presents (ones you want and ones you don't) but feel less than flush. Want to get back on financial track? Here's how to get the most from your unwanted gifts.
Decide If You Really Need It
Not every gift is a keeper—if you don’t love it, let it go. “If you didn't like it when you got it, you never will,” says Barbara Reich, professional organizer to NYC’s elite. “Don't let it take up precious real estate in your home.” She suggests creating two piles after opening gifts, one with things you'll keep and the other with things you want to take back. Then commit to following through with your return.
Cash is king, but credit is great, too—especially if you shop smart, says consumer and money saving expert Andrea Woroch. “Instead of exchanging a gift for something else you really don't want or need, look ahead to upcoming events and celebrations like weddings, birthdays or baby showers. Then buy an appropriate gift by exchanging the holiday present you really don't want,” she says. Along those lines, you can also apply credit towards things you’re going to spend money on for yourself, too.
Sell Your Stuff
Ditching dud gifts on eBay and Craigslist is a tried and true way to generate post-holiday cash. There are also sites that specialize in tech—perfect for selling last year’s “it” gift you got this year. “Gazelle or Nextworth allow you to sell old gadgets that your holiday gift may have replaced,” says Woroch. “You can even get cash for broken smartphones, tablets and MP3 players. An iPhone with a broken screen can get you anywhere from $30 to $200 from sites like RapidRepair.com.”
Cash Out Those Cards
Not interested in that gift card to Home Depot? (Do they even know you?) Sell it along with your other unwanted cards (or even merch credit) for up to 92% cash back on sites like Raise.com, GiftcardZen.com and Cardpool.com. Here's the catch: Some sites buy your cards for less than face value, then resell it. Others let you set the price and ship directly to buyers—but take a cut of the selling price. Still, it’s better than letting the cards idle in your drawer. Want the best deal? Use the comparison charts at GiftCardGranny.com to see which re-seller will pay the most for your particular card, says Edgar Dworsky, consumer advocate and founder of consumerworld.org.
Own to Rent
Put your gifts to work! Snapgoods.com, Zilok.com and Loanables.com let you rent out anything and everything from iPads and blenders to guitars and grills. You won’t make a ton of money—often as little as $5-15 day, per rental—but over time it can really add up. And really, how often to you use that power drill?
Done well, recycling presents saves you both the hassle and the expense of giving gifts (especially if said gifts aren’t returnable). As with returns, think about which upcoming occasions pair well with your unloved presents. Just be careful not to give the “perfect” gift to the person who originally gave it to you, says Jonni McCoy, author of Miserly Moms: Living Well on Less in a Tough Economy. “Write down who gave it to you, and check carefully for signs of its former gift status. Things like torn wrapping paper and gift notes tucked inside are dead giveaways.”
Give ‘Em Away
When in doubt, give it away. “Don't keep gifts you don't want or don't like,” says Reich. And if you can’t return it, exchange it, sell it, or rent it, donate it to a charity or offer it up on freecycle.net. After all, a good deed is its own reward. Good as gold, even.