Spring Cleaning and Charitable Giving Tips

It’s Spring! And that usually means two things – spring cleaning and allergies.

Today, we’ll just tackle the first one.

Now that winter is over, many of us are turning attention to clearing out the clutter. Spring cleaning is an annual ritual for us. The good news is that you can use spring cleaning as a time to help others, as well as to clean the clutter from your home.

Declutter & Donate to a Good Cause
I like to go through my house each Spring and just take a hard look at everything we’ve accumulated in the last year. I also go through my closets and storage areas, checking for items that haven’t been taken out in the last year.

All of these are candidates for donation.

What better way to get rid of the stuff in your house and give your house a fresh start than to give your unwanted items to charity?

One of the great things about cleaning out your home and giving the items to charity is that you can also get a tax deduction for the fair market value of the goods. While most of us don’t need a tax deduction to do the right thing, donating is better than trashing it. It certainly doesn’t hurt, right?

When you donate goods to charity, you can deduct their fair market value on your taxes. As you clean out closets, and air out your rooms, you can create a pile of “stuff” to take to the local thrift store or homeless shelter and TurboTax ItsDeductible will track and value your donated items so you don’t have to worry about valuing your items at tax-time.

As you donate, though, keep the following in mind:

  • The items you donate must be in good, usable condition. If they’re not, you actually cost the charity because they’ll have to dispose of it.
  • If you would like a legitimate tax deduction, the organization you donate to must be a qualified organization.
  • Keep a receipt from the charity that includes the value of the items donated.
  • Remember that you can only claim the current market value of the goods, not what you originally paid for them.

Donating your stuff is a lot faster and a lot easier than trying to sell it. If you fancy a garage sale, that’s a great way to try to sell some of your stuff. The stuff that doesn’t sell, can go into the donation pile.

Since I clean out each Spring, I don’t have a ton of stuff so a garage sale wouldn’t be very effective. Donating it is much much easier.

Spring Clean Your Life: Volunteering and Cash Donations
Of course, spring cleaning doesn’t have to refer only to your home. You can also spring clean your life.

Take a look at the things that you do. Are you looking for more meaning? If so, consider volunteering.

Ditch the activities from your life that are sucking away your energy and look to give some of yourself to a worthy cause. Studies indicate that volunteering can provide you with increased happiness and can even energize you.

For a stretch of time I used to volunteer for Meals on Wheels, just to get out of the house and give a little back to the community. It was only two hours a week, packaging meals, but I had a lot of fun and it was very rewarding.

While you can’t deduct the value of your time when you volunteer, you can still get a tax benefit. If you drive your car in the service of a charity, you can take a mileage deduction. It’s not a lot, but it’s a nice little financial bonus to go on top of the good feelings that come with helping others.

For those who don’t have time to volunteer, it can make sense to donate cash. Take a look at your budget. Can you spring clean your budget so that you have room to donate to charity? Spring is a good time to renew yourself, your home, and your finances.

As you do so, don’t forget to think of those less fortunate!

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