Do you have a hard time getting rid of things, but desperately want a streamlined system for de-cluttering your home on a consistent basis? Or, does tax time come around, leaving you to guess what you donated to the Goodwill last June?
Today, I share three tips that I have come to integrate into my life to easily & quickly maintain a clutter free home and a current listing of items donated (& their individual values) for tax purposes. Aren’t you excited?
#1: Create a dedicated space in your home for items to donate.
I started this system a few years ago when we moved into our first house in Las Vegas. I didn’t want to have to look at items to be donated in the garage for months on end, and also wanted to define an amount of space that, once filled, the contents would be donated.
I have a bin in the laundry room specifically dedicated for items to donate. Whenever I notice something in the house that no longer suits our needs, or if we get a new pan in the kitchen or something, I find the pan we are replacing or the unused item and put it in the bin. I try to weed out as I go so I don’t end up having to drag 10 garbage bags full of stuff to the Goodwill at the end of the year.
#2: Get into a routine of donating on a regular basis (& use a pickup service).
After we moved into our house in Las Vegas, I was ecstatic the first time I received a bag in the mail with a donation pick-up date for the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA). I started donating our no longer used clothing & household items through this pickup service, and was happy to find that they also serve our new neighborhood in Arizona.
I suppose one could argue that Vietnam Veterans don’t necessarily need a gently worn lab coat or a Christmas table cloth. However, upon further research into this organization, I discovered that our donations are going to clothingdonations.org, which is a service of VVA. The donations are sold and the profits are used to support programs for all veterans.
You may wish to find an organization that speaks to you personally. There are other donation pickup services, but so far, at least where I live, the VVA service is the only one I have found that pre-schedules the donation pick-up time and sends me a reminder in the mail.
I find that the less barriers to donating, the better. It might sound lazy, but not having to make a phone call to schedule a pickup increases the chances that I will actually walk out the front door and set my bag(s) on the curb, as it is one less thing on my list of things to do. This systems works beautifully for me!
The VVA pickup service seems to come by about once every few months. For the most part, this has worked out to be just the right frequency for us. I am usually surprised by how much stuff accumulates in only a few months’ time. Yesterday was my pickup date, and I had three full bags of stuff to donate.
#3: Keep track of donated items before donating.
This is my most recent addition to my de-cluttering master plan, and I am so excited to share it! I recently came across It’s Deductible, a free service offered through Turbo Tax. It’s Deductible allows you to create an itemized list of items donated to a specific organization on a specific date. Based on eBay market values, you are able to select pre-defined dollar amount values for each item you donate.
I will admit that I found this while gathering tax deduction information for our tax person the other week, and had to do my best to guess what I donated for all of 2014. While I came up with a higher dollar amount than I ever would have guessed without using this service, I bet that the actual dollar amount would have been even higher had I entered the specific items we donated as we were donating them.
After finding It’s Deductible, I vowed to enter the items before donating them in 2015. Yesterday was my first major donation pickup date this year, and I was so proud of myself for entering items into It’s Deductible as I placed them in the bags. The final dollar amount of items donated was much higher than I would have guessed, and now I have an itemized PDF to turn in to our tax person next year.
There you have it – my secrets for organized donating! I am always on the lookout for tips to simplify our household. I would love to hear your secrets for de-cluttering if you care to share.