Paycheck Chronicles

Four Simple Money Tasks for Today


If you celebrate Christmas, it is likely that you've gone through some gift-exchanging over the last few days, and perhaps you are cleaning up and processing the holiday gift aftermath.  There are four simple money tasks that you can do today that will make your finances better in the future.

Corral Those Gift Cards

Gift cards are a popular holiday gift, but they are easy to misplace.  Designate one place in your house for all gift cards to live.  If necessary, identify them by owner by writing on them with a permanent marker.

If the gift card has a registration option, take the time to register your gift cards online.  Then you'll be protected if the card is lost or stolen.

I had this situation completely under control when my children were younger, and then they started wanting to retain their own gift cards.  I don't even want to think about how many cards have been lost.  It's just sad.

Keep and Activate Warranties

Many products come with some level of warranty.  In order to use the warranty, you'll need some level of documentation.  At the very least, you will need to keep the receipt.  Receipt paper is notorious for degrading quickly, so make photocopies or take pictures of your receipts.  Have a designated place for the receipts.  If you don't have a regular receipt storage system, either start one or keep your receipts in your holiday binder.

Other warranties require registration or paperwork.  Pull out the paperwork you'll need and put it with your receipts.  If registration is required, go online and fill out the registration now.  Some registration processes even allow you to upload the receipt when you register the product, so the receipt is available if you have to make a claim.  Take the extra time to do that step.

Make Some Charitable Donations

A house full of new stuff is ripe for clearing out.  Have your family members sort and purge those unnecessary or excess toys, clothes, kitchen things - whatever you can find.  Donate to a qualified charity and if you itemize your income tax deductions, you'll be able to deduct the donations from your income tax return.

Do Those Returns

Chances are, someone in your world got a present that isn't going to work for them. Don't miss the opportunity to exchange or return gifts that don't fit, don't work, or are unwanted. Every store has its own exchange and return policies, and more generous holiday timelines usually end in January. Don't discover a forgotten return after it is too late!

These steps are all pretty simple, and a good use of your time on this quiet post-holiday weekend. Your wallet will thank you!

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