Simplify, Give, and Save

The end of the the year can mean an influx of stuff and an outflow of dough. When the new year starts, we all have resolutions a plenty. One way to counter clutter, simplify your life, and save money is to go through your closet and get rid of all your unwanted clothes. Every year I have a few shirts, sweaters, coats, and other things that I just don’t need anymore. Between my wife and I, this year we had six bags of clothes to donate.

How can you Give, Save, and Simplify your life? Follow these simple steps:

1. Clean Your Closet – Go through your clothes and get rid of the obvious things that you no longer wear. Then go over the things you are keeping for sentimental reasons and ask yourself, would someone else benefit more from this than me?

2. Catalog your items. I use an Excel spread sheet I created a couple years ago. This sheet catalogs your clothes and household items, and assigns them an estimated value based on tax valuations at bankrate.com. You can download your own FREE copy of this excel sheet here.

3. Take a Picture – I usually stack the items together and take a picture for reference. This is followed by good notes at the bottom of the excel sheet.

4. Give – Give the items to your preferred charity. While I choose Volunteers of America because of how they indirectly helped a friend of mine, my neighbor finds it more convenient to donate to Good Will. You may prefer The Salvation Army. The important part is to find the charity that fits you, and start this new habit.

5. Take Documents to Your Accountant – Give the donations receipt, excel worksheet, and pictures to your accountant for your tax records. For non-cash donations greater than $500, you may need to fill out form 8283 along with your Schedule A. You can download that form from the IRS website at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f8283.pdf.

It should be noted that in order to get the deduction, you need to itemize your taxes. But even if you don’t’ itemize and get the deductions, it still feels good to Give, and Simplify.

For more on donating items, visit the IRS website Publication 526.

About the author

Richard T. Feight, CFP®
Richard T. Feight, CFP®

Among independent financial advisors, Mr. Feight is one of the most well known and highly respected “Fee-Only” financial planners. Since 1997, Rich has dedicated his career to offering low cost “Fee-Only” comprehensive financial planning and investment advice. Rich assists his clients in organizing their finances so that they can retire on time.Rich is a graduate of Michigan State University where he received his degree in Finance. Rich has earned the Certificate of Financial Planning from The College for Financial Planning in Denver , Colorado that was comprised of intense graduate level classes grounding him in the various foundations of financial planning. He is a CFP® (Certified Financial Planner®) since 2001, meeting the experience, education requirements and passing the two-day, 10 hour exam, making him one of the few in the country who hold the designation. Since 2003, Rich has subscribed to the stringent and mandatory annual educational hours, experience, and code of ethics to meet the requirements to be a NAPFA Registered Financial Advisor. Out of the 800,000 individuals in the country who claim they are financial advisors/planners, fewer than 1,300 in the country qualify for the membership; Rich is one of them.

Rich is the President of the Financial Planning Association (FPA) of Michigan . The FPA of Michigan is one of largest and influential chapter in the country. Rich was recently named President for Transportation Toastmasters Club 4776 downtown Lansing . He has been quoted in both local and national media from Noise Magazine to CNBC, and Bloomberg, and industry news publications such as Investment News and Financial Advisor Magazine. Rich enjoys public speaking and has spoke at industry educational meeting, high schools, and executive investment clubs, AARP conferences, and business educational seminars for companies looking to educate their employees. Rich views his role as a Fiduciary for his clients as the single biggest key to any planning relationship and strives to provide the most competent, unbiased and objective advice in the financial planning profession today.

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