As I found myself wandering the stores after the holidays returning a few gifts and using gift cards, I thought, there must be a more creative way to get more bang out of these post-holiday bucks. My inspiration came from an article by Gregory Karp, in the Chicago Tribune.
I have never been a fan of gift cards, giving or receiving. Some companies charge fees on their cards and many of us (present company included) do not use the full balance, thereby wasting dollars. I also believe that it causes us to spend more at a store we might not shop at anyhow. If you have a gift card from a store you won’t use, consider swapping it for a card from a store you definitely shop at. I recently traded a Toys R Us card for a Staples one that I will use. Swap your card at: PlasticJungle.com, CardPool.com, GiftCardRescue.com, CardWoo.com and Swapagift.com. You won’t get full value for your cards, perhaps 80 percent. Also, consider regifting a gift cards to someone who would appreciate it more.
I didn’t know about this site, but a client had great luck with it. For books, CDs, DVDs and video games, check out Swap.com. The site decides how much your item is worth and what you can swap it for. You pay for shipping and a small transaction fee, about $1.
Donations don’t have to occur just before year-end. While you won’t see the immediate taxable deduction effect now, you will be extra thankful when you do your 2011 taxes. Consider donating your unwanted gifts to your favorite charitable institution.