Friday, September 3, 2010

Donating Your Stuff: My Experiences with Organizing

I've spent the past year or so going through my closets and knickknacks to try to get rid of my excess stuff. This is particularly true during the last month when we've been going through all of our stuff, in the garage, boxes, closets, and drawers.

We generally sort things into three piles. There is the trash can full of stuff (or recycling since we have a lot of files which I am trying to purge). There is the sale pile. We try to sell things on eBay or other places (although we've had little luck with that in the past year or so as eBay as been an increasingly poor source for selling). The third and largest pile is donate.

Donation is a great way to get rid of still usable stuff (clothes, blankets, knickknacks, non-valuable books, etc.

I move the donation stacks out to a location out of the way--on a table on our enclosed patio this time. I then put the items in bags and make a list of things by categories. For instance, my current stack includes 5 sweaters, 15 tshirts, 3 jeans, 2 jackets, 1 blanket, 2 board games (1 unused), etc. I then decide where I am going to donate the stuff.

There are a lot of choices, from the typical Goodwill, Amvets, or other local charity thrift shop to specific charities which need actual items (children's hospitals or women's shelters sometimes want gently used toys or clothes or books). It is a great time to support a cause you care about. It can be more work, of course, to figure out that you want to support your local animal shelter, call them to find out if they want your blankets and towels (they often do), and then get the stuff to them. On the other hand, it can be very rewarding to know that your unwanted items are helping a cause you care about in your community.

When you donate your stuff, be sure to record what you donated. If they offer you a receipt, take it. Remember that it can be useful come tax time. I have a folder for receipts for taxes and that's where mine goes.

There are websites where you can value your stuff for tax purposes. Remember that you can't charge the same as a new price. Some tax programs will have a "value this" feature that will help you set a fair price for the items. Make sure you kept enough info on your list to figure out the pricing.

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