SAN ANTONIO — Once you get or give a gift you know is not going to work, check the return policy. It will tell you the deadline and the items you need to make a return.

“It may seem like you have a lot of time, but it’s going to go by quickly,” said Andrea Woroch, a smart shopping expert. “So you need to find out what the deadline is for each retailer and make a note in your calendar or on your phone and set an alert so you don’t miss the deadline.”

Missing the return window means missing out on money.

“They’ll give you store credit on the last selling price of the item,” said Kyle James of the savings website Rather Be Shopping. “If it was way marked down, you may only get kind of pennies on the dollar.”

Saving receipts, keeping boxes, and not cutting off tags will make returns easier. Also, be nice to the sales associates. They have the power to deny your return.

“Be kind,” Woroch said. “Be courteous. Explain where you’re coming from and chances are there could be some flexibility. There could be a one-time courtesy where they change the policy for you in the moment.”

Wait until Mid-January to make a return, if the policy allows it.

“You may not want to attempt a return the week after Christmas because everyone will be returning the week after Christmas,” said Trae Bodge, a smart saving expert. “You’re going to face crowds, long lines, maybe grumpy people at the returns desk and who could blame them? What I would recommend is wait until right after New Year’s, maybe the first or second week of January.”

Make a buck even if you cannot get your money back on a gift.

“You might want to consider selling that item,” Bodge said. “There are a lot of online platforms that will buy new merchandise from you. So, you might do better doing that versus trying to return it in-store.”

You can also save the item to re-gift, do an unwanted gift exchange with friends, or donate an item to charity.

Click here to view the original segment on

Related:  How I Save Money