BOSTON (CBS) – Merry Christmas! It is so hard to think about giving financial advice today. I thought about getting the Grinch to sub for us.

By now the house is quiet, the presents have been opened, some of the toys already discarded or broken, and the trash bags are full of paper and bows. The smallest of the clan are playing with the boxes and ignoring the expensive educational toys.

People have begun to make piles of their loot. In the perfect world everyone would have loved the gifts you gave them and everything would fit perfectly and be the right color.

But we’re not in the perfect world are we? So one of those piles is of stuff that needs returning. If the recipient wants to return the item and get something else, give them the receipt- hopefully you still have the receipt- and let them get something different. It’s so much easier on you.

Many stores offer gift receipts that you can stick in with the gifts, but if you didn’t get one try to find the original receipt. Even though the tag or box may say Macy’s and they know it’s their item you may not be able to get the original price you paid. Remember the stores have been having sales for the last month trying to get you in there.

The store policy is to give a refund at the lowest sale price if there is no sales slip, and that is a fair policy. I really don’t find any fault with that. But if you bought your daughter a cashmere sweater in November for $150 and her mother-in-law also gave her a sweater she is going to ask you if it’s okay to return yours. You’re easier to deal with.

Without a receipt, she may only get a refund of $99 (what the sweater sold for last weekend when the store had a major sale).

So spend some time looking for your receipts. Label them and have them ready when someone asks if you mind if they return that plaid raincoat or the bunny slippers you gave them. Also, many stores are asking that the returns be made in the original packaging.

The receipts also give you an idea just how much you actually did spend on Christmas. So you may want to spend a few minutes tallying it all up, but not today. Start tomorrow and perhaps set up a budget for next year using a Christmas Club so you will have the dollars in November when you start.


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