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The last few days of the year while many of us are taking days off or working shorter hours is a great time to get these couple of things done.  1) Purge!  Go through the house and start making piles of stuff you no longer want or need.  Get some of the boxes from Christmas and start packing them with gently used, still very functional items that can leave your house without your even missing them.  Take the boxes and bags filled with clothes, small appliances, linens, books, etc. to your local Goodwill, ARC, Salvation Army drop-off site and rid your house of the clutter, donate to these 3 charities that do good work with your used items and get a tax deduction for yourself all in one project.  We will post a cheat sheet of what your donated items are worth for a tax deduction in early January so you can easily value your donation.  2) Make a cash donation to a charity you like, one that supports causes you think are the most worthwhile before December 31st to get a tax deduction for 2013.  We have all seen the power of people when millions of us get behind a cause.  Too often those causes are natural disasters that have wiped out a community, but all of us getting behind something that touched us has made an enormous difference.  Carry that power to another charity that needs your help year-round.  Donate on a monthly giving plan to an organization that is getting the hard work done in an area that you want to have or see an impact.

1) Purging is so cathartic!  You will be very surprised at how addictive the process can be, how relieved you will feel to get rid of stuff that is just taking up space in your home or garage.  While you are purging, make sure you identify those things that do not have another life left in them and make a trip to your dumpster or large trash can with those things.  Donate only those things that someone would actually want and that have enough life left in them to be useful.

2) Make a cash donation to an organization that does really good work in an area that you are interested in.  My causes mostly center around women and children; their education, training and empowerment and animal welfare.  Organizations that I have researched and think do the most with donations received are; Heifer International, ASPCA, Care.org, Unicef, The Salvation Army and Goodwill. 

We do suggest that you do some research on the organizations you are considering to see if they are well-thought of, spend the majority of their donations on their cause, not the administration of the organization.  You can Google or Bing how to evaluate charities.  Below are a few links that I found in just a minute or so of looking.  Have a healthy suspicion of an organization you have never heard of, one that seeks you out and gives a hard sell.  Always ask for a brochure, a web address, etc to make sure you are not being taken advantage of.  Remember that there are companies that specialize in soliciting you on the phone and that they can actual be getting the majority of the money you donate, not the organization they are calling about.  Ask for a way of contacting them and then research the organization first before you donate.  I hate to give my money to the person soliciting me and not the organization itself 🙁

http://www.guidestar.org/rxg/give-to-charity/index.aspx

http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=topten#.Ur2d90CA3IU

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/perfi/columnist/block/2010-11-30-yourmoney30_ST_N.htm

And last, but not least; remember the year that is coming to a close.  Concentrate of the accomplishments, the successes, small and large.  Remember the best moments of the year to cement those memories for future days when you will need them.  Remember, if you have a roof over your head, food on your table, people who care about you…… then you are lucky.  Create more luck in your life by thinking of yourself as a lucky person.  Change your perspective to see yourself as someone who mostly gets what they need by simply thinking about it, seeing opportunities and making decisions that naturally take you exactly where you wanted to be.

I look forward to 2014.  I see great things happening for me and I can’t wait to experience them.  I am lucky!

 

Post Author: Tricia O'Connor CPA MBA

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