5 Ways to Make or Save Money With Unwanted Gifts

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When I was younger, I came home from Grandma’s every Christmas and dumped half my presents into the trash can.

I’m an unapologetic minimalist with an un-American disdain for needless physical possessions like knickknacks, collectibles, inedible stocking stuffers, and other clutter-to-be.

You may find that strange, but it turns out I’m not alone. Last year, 11 percent of lousy-gift recipients tossed their unwanted gifts, according to Consumer Reports.

Yes, that’s right: The national product-testing publication has actually studied what we do with unwanted gifts. Earlier this month, they asked more than 1,000 American adults what they did with the lousy gifts they received last year. Here’s what the research showed – and what your options are if you receive a lame gift this year…

Money-making options…

Money-saving options…

  • 18 percent donated it. If this option appeals to you, donate it to a qualified charity (see IRS Publication 78) and get a receipt so that you can deduct the donation at tax time. For a list of property donations that qualify for a tax deduction, check the “Contributions of Property” section of IRS Publication 526.
  • 15 percent re-gifted it. If you’d consider this option, our resident master re-gifter’s Fail-safe Method for Getting Away With Re-Gifting is a must-read.
  • 2 percent returned it to the gift giver. While this doesn’t save the gift recipient money, the giver may appreciate the savings – if they’re not offended, that is. So this option is a gamble. Personally, I’ve only ever had the heart to return a gift to boyfriends who ignored my minimalist girlfriend gift guidelines.

Other options…

  • 44 percent made the best of it. Consumer Reports didn’t define making the best of it, but it seems to me that making money off an unwanted gift would be the best way to make the most of it.
  • 39 percent stored it out of view. Ah! Clutter!
  • 11 percent threw it out. While it’s the least money-minded and environmentally friendly option, this is the easiest and fastest option.

And if you’ve received an especially lousy gift in the past, don’t forget to enter our Worst-Gift-Ever Contest!

Karla Bowsher runs our Deals page, writes “Today’s Deals” posts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; and covers consumer and retail issues. If you have a comment, suggestion, or question, leave a comment or contact her at karla@moneytalksnews.com.

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