Tips & Inspiration for Organizing a Simpler Life
August 2012 – Vol. 11 No. 8

“The joy of giving is indeed a pleasure, especially when you get rid of something you don’t want.” ~Frank Butler and Frank Cavett, “Going My Way”

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What do you need to give away?

If you really want to get stuff out of your home the fastest, easiest way possible, your best option may be to donate it all to charity and take the tax write-off.

It’s possible to save hundreds of dollars or more on your taxes. For example: If you donate goods valued at $2,000 and your tax rate is 28%, you can save $540 in taxes.

Most charities will accept just about anything in decent shape. Items should be clean and usable. Items that are broken, stained or not working should be recycled or trashed.

To make it easy on yourself, I recommend donating your giveaways to one charitable organization as opposed to multiple charities. Just be sure that it is an IRS-approved 501c3 charity.

Visit DonationTown.org to find a charity that will pick up your donations for free. All you have to do is put out the items on your scheduled pick-up date – no hauling necessary. You don’t need to be home and they will leave a tax-deductible receipt. If you drop off donations on your own, you can also deduct the miles driven to and from the charity
drop-off location.

Keep a list of donated items that includes the condition and value of each item. From experience, I recommend creating your list as you place items in a box or bag for donation. It’s also a good idea to photograph each item at that time. Attach your itemized list and photographs to your receipt as documentation that you can present in the event that your tax return is audited.

It’s up to you – not the charity – to determine the “fair market value” of your donation required by the IRS. That value is not the retail price or price you paid for items. It’s the amount that they would sell for today at a thrift shop or garage sale.

My favorite source for figuring fair market value for each item is the deductions calculator on ItsDeductibleOnline.com. This is a free service provided by TurboTax. The program adds up all of your charitable donations for the year as well as providing a place for you to keep track of mileage for driving to and drop off donations, among other things. All of this information is saved for you and can be easily uploaded at year end to TurboTax.

Please, please, please consult your tax advisor to make sure you qualify for deductions and follow his or her recommendations as they relate to your personal tax situation.

What readers are saying. . .

Last month, I shared some ideas for what to do with items that have sentimental value. Here are a few more ideas from other readers:

Stefanie takes a digital picture of the item (yeah, I forgot to mention that one!) and then she has a journal feature on her iPad that lets you attach photos. So her memorabilia is basically scrapbooked by date and with notes if she wants. Makes me want an iPad!

Janet suggests framing small objects. She framed “two pretty dolly plates” that belonged to her mother plus a skeleton key from the house where she grew up in Detroit. These hang in her hallway along with other family memorabilia. Now she’s thinking of framing her celluloid baby rattle along with her baby picture. She says, “The possibilities of memorabilia framing are endless!” I love this idea.

Favorite organizing products and resources

As a professional organizer for the last 10 years, I’ve used and recommended a lot of organizing products, services and resources. Every month, in this column, I share my favorites.

Last month, I introduced you to Office Candy, a new online catalog of sweet and sassy office organizing products. This month, I have a question for you. How do you back up your computer files?

I have been using Carbonite for years. Carbonite automatically backs up your files to the Cloud (an online server). Before I got Carbonite, I rarely backed up my files, because I never remembered to do it. Lucky for me, I never had a system crash!

Carbonite backs up my documents every time I make a change. And if I am away from my computer, I can still access my backed up files from any computer connected to the Internet – or even from my smartphone or tablet. How cool is that?

You can try Carbonite for free for 15 days and if you decide to subscribe to the service, you’ll get two months free as my friend.

For a look at more of my organizing favorites,
Visit www.unclutter.com/favorites.

Shameless promotion: Who knew?

I just learned that the paperback version of my book, How to Declutter and Make Money Now, is being offered on Amazon as part of a 4-for-3 promotion. Buy any 4 eligible items and get the lowest-priced item free. I don’t know how long this promotion will last. The Kindle version is also just $1.99 for a limited time only.

Even if you aren’t interested in buying my book, or you already have the Kindle or paperback version, would you be willing do me a big favor that will only take a minute of your time? Will you please go to my Amazon book page and do the following?

1. Just below the title of the book, please click the “Like” button.

2. Then look at the reviews and please click “Yes” on “Was this review helpful to you?” on the 5 and 4 four star reviews.

3. Scroll back up to “More About the Author,” click to view my Amazon Author page, and please click the “Like” button at the top right of that page.

You’re the best readers a gal could ever ask for! Thank you so much. These little things can really help my Amazon rankings.

That’s all for this month. Until next month, keep it simple.

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“Organizing Plain & Simple Monthly” is a free subscription service of Unclutter.com. The publisher, Donna Smallin, is a motivational speaker, spokesperson, and bestselling
author of nine books on how to unclutter, organize, simplify, and clean up your life. To contact Donna Smallin, send an e-mail to donna@unclutter.com.

I am an affiliate of many products that I recommend and endorse, so any given issue of this newsletter may contain affiliate links. If you click on a link and purchase something, I may receive a referral commission. All proceeds from affiliate programs go toward the continuation of this complimentary newsletter. Thanks in advance for your support!

Copyright 2012 Donna Smallin Kuper, 5540 Douglas Ct., Shelby Twp, MI 48316

EXCERPT PERMISSION GRANTED WITH THIS CREDIT: Excerpted with permission from Donna Smallin’s free organizing tips newsletter at http://www.unclutter.com. If you do use an
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