The Smartest Way To Clear Clutter

When it’s time to clear the clutter from your home, you’ve got three choices:

1) Trash it

2) Host a garage sale

3) Donate it

I think it’s safe to say we can all agree the first choice is not a good option at all. After all, the last thing the world needs is more stuff in our landfills. So, let’s move right on and discuss the other options.

The Frustrating Truth About Garage Sales

Have you ever had a garage sale and kicked yourself afterwards? Unless you’ve got tons of really desirable goodies and people in your community that love snatching up early morning deals, there really aren’t many pros to having a garage sale.  In a nutshell, they’re time-suckers. They require you to organize, price, market, host and clean up. As if that wasn’t bad enough, they also require you to crawl out of bed at an ungodly hour on a Saturday morning, only to deal with insistent bargain hunters that offer you 25 cents for that thing you spent $50 on.  There simply aren’t many financial benefits to having a garage sale at all.

The Truth and Nothing but the Truth About Donations

The alternative of course, is to donate your unwanted stuff; however, there’s a problem with that, too.  While it’s great to clear your clutter and hope it goes to a good cause or person in need, it’s just plain smart to claim a tax-deduction, yet most people never do. Here’s why: often when you donate you’re offered a receipt; however, it usually doesn’t identify the value of what you donated (they leave that to you.) In your rush to get onto the next “to do” item on your list that day, you toss the receipt somewhere in the car (or the depths of your purse) and before you know it, your 8 year old has wrapped his gum in it.

Even if you’re amongst the more fortunate people on this planet that actually do make it home with the receipt intact, you’re still not out of the weeds. Once you open your front door, life will hit you in the face. The phone will ring. A neighbor will pay you an unexpected visit. Or something will get in between you and your to do list. It’s just how life is. And because you’re bound to get distracted, that receipt never does make it into your tax file. The result? No proof of your donation. No tax write-off. No good.

The Good News

We’ve found a tool that will allow you to clear your clutter, help the less fortunate AND claim your tax write-off without fail, every time.

Introducing, iDonatedIt, a mobile app, available for $2.99 from the iTunes store. (If you’re using an Android phone you can skip down to the bottom of this post where we share a similar app from the Google Play Store). This app allows you to easily track your donations so that you can quickly plug in the total when you do your taxes.

You simply:

  1. Create a donation event and give it a name (like “ Goodwill”).
  2. Add a new item by selecting from a pre-populated list.
  3. Choose the best option to describe the item’s condition.
  4. Save.

That’s it! It takes less than a minute and you can do it from your phone in the car while you’re still in the donation drop off line. Boom. Done.

But wait, there’s more…

If you wish, you can also add a picture of the item(s) you donate so you can go back later and see exactly what you donated and when. The app will generate an estimate of the item’s worth and keep track of everything for you! When you’ve added all the items for that donation event, you’ll be able to see the total donation value. Then, at the end of the year, you can look back and see a grand total of all your donations for that year. It has never been easier to claim the tax benefits from donations than it is now!

Not an iPhone user? No worries. 

Check out Donation Assistant from the Google Play Store. The basics are the same. Just a heads-up: This app is not quite as simple to use as iDonatedIt. It’s missing the “event” feature so you have to either enter bulk donations as a miscellaneous bag or enter each individual item as a separate donation–which results in making your list of donations much longer. But where there’s a downside, there’s always an upside too and in this case you can easily track cash donations with this app, too. Plus it’s free! Win, win!

There are a ton of different apps and programs out there that will help reduce your stress level during tax season. This month we’ve scratched the surface of four of them, but we’re sure there are some you use that didn’t make our list. Please tell us about your favorites in the comments. We’re always eager to learn about new, must-have tools!

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