I ended up at the mall with my wife the day after Christmas. I assumed that it might be somewhat busy, but I was shocked at the crowds of people there. The combination of people making returns, spending their gift cards, and taking advantage of after Christmas sales created the perfect shopping storm.
I found an empty seat in the food court, grabbed some Chinese and began to make a list of all of the financial issues that should be in consideration for our readers at Christian Money.com.
Issuers of gift cards hauled in nearly $90 billion in 2009. The golden rule on gift cards is to use them or lose them. Statistics show that about 40% of gift cards end up with some amount of credit that is never redeemed! New rules are in the works that would limit the amount of fees that can be assessed against dormant gift cards and would keep them from expiring for a minimum of five years. These rules will not go into effect until August of 2010. So, for this year you are on your own to be sure that you spend your gift cards or face the consequences of the current consumer unfriendly rules.
In my family, we use gift cards or work out these kinds of deals within the family. My wife bought a gift card from my son and then gave it to another relative as a gift. To each his own, but if you decide to sell or trade through a third party, be sure and use a reputable and well established company to do so.
According to a recent survey by Consumer reports, about 19 percent of us will have at least one item to return or exchange after Christmas. Return polices vary by store, but in every case you are going to be in the most advantageous position if you have a receipt and have kept the item in the original packaging. Without a receipt, you may have to settle for a store credit and the amount may be based on the now lower sale price rather than the actual amount paid for the item. Grace periods for returns vary greatly. Most stores extend their allowable return period after Christmas, but this is not the case with all retailers. Also, keep in mind that their may be restocking fees and other costs involved with the return of electronics.
Buy Now Pay Later
If you took advantage of any buy now pay later offers, or used your credit cards, now is the time to take an inventory of your financial situation. For example, 90 days the same as cash deals turn into very expensive installment loans if the balance in not paid in full within the 90 days. Don’t let these deadlines and credit card bills catch you by surprise. Now is the time to make a plan to deal with these obligations while you still have the time to do so.
I hope that you and your family had a wonderful holiday season this year. Now is a great time to clear up all of your pending shopping issues related to the holidays so you can start the new year with a clean slate.
Helping you make the most of God’s money!