Welcome to the second Women's Money Week Action Step. Before you get started, we recommend that you read this post about getting started with Women's Money Week.
About This Week's Action
Donating items is not something most people prioritize as a way to get their finances in shape - but donating stuff actually has a number of financial benefits. Over the Memorial Day weekend, go through your home, apartment, even car - to find 25 items to give away.
Why Take This Action
Donations are Tax Deductible
When most people think of donating in relation to their finances, they think of the tax write-off. And, if you itemize your taxes, you can deduct the fair market value of items you donate. Make sure you get a receipt from the organization you're donating to and if any item is $500 or more, you'll need a qualified appraisal. (If you're donating a high value item and need an appraisal, ask the charity directly about the best way to do this.)
You'll Feel Rich
There was once a "Friends" episode where Pheobe set out to find an unselfish kind act. She was upset about the fact that anytime you do something nice for someone, you end up feeling good about it. (Near the end of the episode, she let a bee sting her, concluding that it helped the bee by getting it's anger out, but it hurt her. Then she discovered that bees die after they sting...) When you give things away, you realize how fortunate you are. It makes you feel good. And rich too.
You'll Buy Less (and Save Money)
When you spend time finding items to give away, you'll most likely realize how many things you have that you really don't need. My experience has always been that this almost always leads to an extended buying draught. You realize you don't need to go shopping for a new long-sleeve shirt - you just gave away 5 and found another 4 that you had forgotten you owned. Plus, going through your stuff to find items to giveaway helps you remember that 99% of the world gets by on less, and so you'll forgo buying more too.
Less Clutter, More Happiness
I recently finished Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project. In the book she discusses cleaning closets and the satisfaction she gets from having less clutter. While it sounds far fetched, it really is true. So, while money can't be happiness, a clean closet can!
How Long Does This Action Take?
To find 25 items to give away, it will likely take you between 1 and 2 hours.
How to Donate 25 Things to Charity
1. Find a Charity to Donate To
Before you even start trying to find 25 items to donate, first choose the charity to which you'll donate the items. Some organizations will only take small items; others have criteria for the condition of the items. Plus, it helps in choosing the items when you actually have the end recipient in mind.
To find a charity that will take the items I recommend using this guide from Charity Navigator to find a local charity. This mega list of 101 Places Where to Donate Your Stuff from Miss Minimalist is also a good starting point.
2. Choose a Method for Finding 25 Items
One or Two Locations: You might want to spend an afternoon cleaning out your clothing or hallway closet. This may take a little longer to find 25 items (as you'll have to go through items one by one) but the end result will be one or two areas of your home that are cleared of clutter.
Room Hopping: Another approach to finding 25 items to donate is to go from room to room in your house. Chances are nearly every room, closet, drawer, and shelf has something you aren't using.
Choose whatever method for finding 25 things to give away that will work best for you.
3. Find the Items to donate
Now is the hard, but fun, part. Grab a trash bag and a box and start finding the items to give away. High up on your kitchen shelves, or back in the kitchen drawers, you'll find an old blender or serving utensil or two. In the living room check out your DVD stash (are you really going to ever do Tae Bo again?). How many towels do you need in your hall closet? Don't think too carefully. Just give.
4. Get Rid of Your Stuff
Instead of making a pile in your basement with your 25 items, get rid of them. Drive them to the charity or schedule a pickup.
5. Get Your Tax Receipt
Don't forget to get your tax receipt and record the donation in your tax records. You may want to take a picture of your donation too, just to keep for your records.
You've made it this far! Now that you know what this week's action is, why to take it, and how to take it, you should commit to taking action. To commit to taking this week’s action, you could simply just tell yourself you're going to follow the steps in the how section.
But what are the chances you are actually going to find the time to do this, when you have so many other things to do? Instead, you should commit and hold yourself accountable. To hold yourself accountable do 3 things:
- Sign up for the week by registering here. When you "register" for this week's action on Eventbrite (totally free) it allows us to easily email you twice during the week to help hold you accountable. (If you want to know why you should do this, read this post.)
- Leave a comment below detailing specifically what action you will take and when you will take it. For example, "I will find a place to donate to tonight at 8pm and will go through my things on Monday at 7:00 pm."
- Set a reminder for yourself. Set a phone alarm or a calendar appointment for the time you have chosen to take that step.