Randy Dean's Timely Tips

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Timely Tips December 2008: A Holiday Gift for Those In Need (and a Tax Write Off for You!)

Smart Strategies for a Holiday Season Home Cleanup and Donation (including getting your year-end tax writeoff!)

I was reading a little article from organization expert Carmen Coker over the weekend, and something she wrote blew me away! Did you know the average American spends on average 55 minutes a day just looking for stuff in their house? That is very similar to the approximately 1-2 hours per day people spend looking for stuff in their office and on their computer in the office, and, when you add it up, having an extra 2-3 hours per day just by being better organized seems like a "no brainer".

Of course, there is the "pain" you must go through to get to a more organized home and office, and that is the time it takes to actually get to the bottom of your stacks, piles, and clutter. But if you take that time, and actually get the things you aren't using out of your home, and also get the things you are using into a specified and organized location, you'll probably receive a pretty large time payoff by not spending SO much time looking for stuff around your home (this is the same argument I use in my E-mail/Office Clutter program as to why it is so important to build a filing/archiving infrastructure and general office organization system so you can save BIG amounts of time and gain new productivity on the back end!)

Additionally, we are all aware of the situation in the economy right now -- this is a VERY smart time to look at where you are spending your time and your money. And anything you can do to generate additional cash flow, pay down your debt, and or reduce your tax liabilities is a brilliant thing to do. Why not take part of your upcoming holiday vacation to take on a part of your home and get it better organized, while also looking for items to donate for a possible tax deduction?

My wife and I have already agreed to do just that -- we're going to invest a couple of days over the holidays to identify items that we can donate to those more in need. Basically, we're going to look for anything that is in good, usable form, but that we are using less than two times per year, and we are going to donate it! This simple life rule is something I've been trying to do for the last year or two, and has allowed us to clear out a bunch of "junk", open up new space, and allow us to get much better organized and efficient.

Here are a few tips that we learned earlier this year:

1. Goodwill Industries is AWESOME! They pretty much accept ANYTHING in good working order -- clothing, furniture, fixtures, etc. Plus, your donations actually help create jobs at Goodwill too. Make sure to document all of your donations if you plan to get a write off, and also get a receipt for each drop off (and make sure to consult with your accountant/tax preparer on the rules to qualify for a tax writeoff on a donation). We've also had good past experience with Volunteers of America -- I even donated a "getting old but still working" car a few years ago.

2. Your Local Library Might Take Your Books. Call up your local library -- if you've got books -- hardcover and paperback -- that you aren't reading/using, look into a donation to your library. You might qualify for a writeoff, and those books will get a new life. You'll also get a BUNCH of dusty, unused space back.

3. Got "Ancient" Text Books? Call your local college/university bookstore. They might be able to accept them for a goodwill program where they get shipped to Africa and other developing nations to be used again to teach high school and college kids. I don't think this qualifies for a write off (not sure on that!), but it sure qualifies for at least a "pat on the back".

So, take a look at your calendar, block a day or two, and go through a "Donation Deletion" process at home. Maybe you'll even find your floor under all that stuff you've been stacking! And you'll give yourself the gift of organization and efficiency in your home and life again (not to mention that tax writeoff you might get).

Until Next Time ...

I'll likely send out one more note before the end of the year, giving you my annual gift of a compilation document of all of my Timely Tips from its inception in 2004 (plus maybe a cool little bonus or two). Watch for that soon! Have a great time with the holiday season -- remember, even with the economic craziness, the most important thing is the people in your life, not the stuff!! So enjoy the people, and look for another note soon. (And send me a note with your "Donation Deletion" process success stories!!)

Until next time, Stay Timely ...


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