When was the last time you did a complete run-through of your house? How many clothes do you have in your closet that you don’t actually use? How many pieces of furniture do you have that you don’t really need? If you haven’t checked your house recently and don’t know the answers to the two succeeding questions then it’s about time you should. You may not realize it but giving all the stuff that you don’t anymore use away can actually save you a lot of money. This may not seem to make sense but if you look deeper, you can actually see that it does.
1. Donating stuff gets you tax deductions.
You can deduct the retail value of the used item from your income tax return if you donate it to charity. Just make sure that you have the receipts to prove it. However, you may be able to still donate and deduct items even if you don’t have receipts for as long as these don’t go above $500 annually. Approximations of the value are accepted for these types of donations.
2. Purging your home of unneeded furniture does away with the need to transfer to a larger and more expensive home.
It is natural for growing families to transfer to a larger home. However, those who don’t happen to have kids or those who only have one child and would fit very well in a starter home would often move to a bigger house because they have accumulated a lot of things. The problem when this happens is that the move is decided based on the amount of possessions one has and not on the real necessity of the situation.
When you purge your home of these unneeded pieces of furniture, you get to free up space in your home. If you were contemplating a move to a much bigger area you might change your mind after you have cleaned your house of the unnecessary pieces of furniture. When you only have stuff you actually need, you don’t need to look for a bigger house which naturally comes with a heftier price tag.
3. Evaluate how you’re using the storage space you are renting.
If you’re renting a storage space for stuff that you won’t anymore fit in your home, it’s time that you review what it is that you are really paying for. The rental fee would be money well-spent if you actually go to the storage area regularly to use whatever it is that you put there. You would just be wasting money if you can’t even remember the last time you visited the storage space.
4. Selling can take too much time and effort; giving is easier.
While you can definitely earn more money if you sell stuff that you don’t anymore need, there are times when it’s better to just give it away. If you sell, you’ll have to advertise and take pictures and post it online. The same happens when you’re trying to let the neighborhood know that you are having a garage sale. Then you’ll have to spend time actually selling the product.
If the item is not really going to give you that much profit, it’s much better to give it to charity. You’ll never know if the item you thought was already useless to you will be of use to someone else. That old sofa that you have been wanting to get rid of could be very useful to an orphanage that is taking care of too many children.
Once you have taken an inventory of all your things and have decided to donate it, the next question is: How do you determine which charity to give it to? There are a lot of unscrupulous individuals hiding under the mask of charity and just using funds funneled to their supposed causes for their individual expenses. As more people channel their giving through the Internet, there are a lot scams that mask themselves as charitable organizations. Thus, you should be careful.
1. Look up charities using independent websites that evaluate them.
Sites like Charity Navigator and GuideStar provide a charity directory as well as ratings for each charity using various criteria. By reading the reports that these provide, you will be able to decide for yourself if you want to donate to a particular charity or not. GuideStar asks for a fee so you can access other parts of their report on charities.
2. The Better Business Bureau is another site to check for the authenticity of a charity.
If you want to check whether a charity is legitimate, the Better Business Bureau is another resource. However, there are newly-established charities that are perfectly legitimate that have not been registered with the BBB. If you are certain that a charity is not bogus then you can certainly donate to it. What’s also good with the BBB is that even when a charity is not registered with them but there are complaints leveled against it then the name of the charity as well as the corresponding complaints will show up on BBB.
3. Check with state regulators.
State regulators also have records of charities that are registered in their state. Usually, they have a website that enables you to check on your chosen charity.
You are using your hard-earned money when you donate to a charity. Thus, it’s only important that you perform the necessary diligence so you can ascertain if the organization is legitimate or not. You want to ensure that your contribution goes to the proper charity and not to the hands of a greedy person who is only out to use the money for their personal ends. Read on to the next section to check if a purported charity is a scam.
1. It does not give you proof that the donation you make to it is tax deductible. Donations to legitimate charities are generally tax-deductible so they won’t hide this fact from you. Scammers, however, aren’t so willing because the funds will only go straight to their pockets.
2. It does not want to give specific information where and how the donation will be used as well as its financial statements, costs and its identity.
3. It uses high-pressure sales tactics that let you donate right away even if you haven’t had time to think about their goals and whether their cause is something you want to support. They might even offer that they will send someone to get your donation right away, asks for cash donations or ask that you send the money through wire transfer.
4. It has a name that sounds like that of a reputable charity. The object of using similar-sounding names is to lead the person making the contribution to believe that they are donating to the reputable charity and not to another one.
5. It says thank you to you for a donation that you don’t even remember giving in the first place.
This is to entice you to believe that you actually donated something and encourage you to donate again.
Before you donate to your chosen charity, make sure that you ask for basic information like the name, address and phone number. Then do the necessary research to check if a charity is reputable. You can check a charity’s trustworthiness by getting in touch with the Better Business Bureau, Charity Watch, GuideStar or Charity Navigator. You can also ask the National Association of State Charity Officials if the charity is registered in the state you live in. Another website to visit is that of the Internal Revenue Service where you can check if the organization is qualified to get contributions that are tax deductible.
If you have started making donations to a particular charity or charities, make sure that you keep a record of your donations. This will guide you on making a donation plan that will help you decide on what organizations to continue supporting.
Make sure that you don’t give any personal and bank account information to someone else if you are not sure that they are legitimate. The cases of identity theft are rising these days and if you give such information as credit card or bank account numbers, you are putting yourself in a very vulnerable position.
See to it that your donations are always given by check or credit card. Don’t send donations using cash or through wire transfers. Scammers often ask potential contributors to wire money because it is as good as cash—it will be very difficult to redeem your money once you have sent it. If there is a request for donation that is supposed to help the firefighters or healthcare workers in your town, you can determine legitimacy if you take the time to talk to the group that the organization is planning to help.