7 Rules for Making Your Charitable Contribution Count on Your Tax Return

by Kaylie Phelps

There are a variety of reasons to make a donation to charity. Most times, individuals do it because it feels good. Others may think that any contribution to those less fortunate is a guaranteed benefit on your taxes. Before you part ways with your money, there are important rules you need to follow to ensure that your donation counts.

Itemize Your Deductions

There are a number of requirements to becoming financially independent such as hard work and saving money. If you’ve achieved financial success, you may be fortunate to be able to give back to those in need. To ensure that your donation counts on your taxes, you need to fill out schedule A on your tax return. Keeping good records throughout the year allows you to remember those who you’ve assisted.

Choose Wisely

You may find a number of causes that are near and dear to your heart. Beyond writing a check, fun functions such as running a charity 5K race directly assists those in need. You could also purchase raffle tickets at a charity auction or attend a musical with the proceeds going toward the organization. To reap a proper tax deduction, you want to find a qualifying organization. If a letter isn’t posed on the charities website, ask for a determination letter by the IRS. You can also search the Internet via the IRS Exempt Organization Select Check. Synagogues, churches and temples are eligible for deductible contributions, even those not on the list.

Individual Donations

If you make a contribution to an individual, your deduction won’t qualify. Even if the person is very deserving of the funds. This includes money given to a homeless person or funds collected for a co-worker or family member facing hardships.

Merchandise Must Be in “Good Used Condition”

It’s common for households to go through their personal belongings and search for items no longer in use. Whether you’re offering clothes, shoes, bedding, rugs, appliances or electronics, the items that you’re handing over must be in “good used condition.” You also can only deduce the value of the items if sold to a thrift shop and not the amount of money paid for the belongings. There are sites on the Internet where you can calculate the value approved by the IRS such as bikes, toys, clothing and coffee makers. You’d be surprised at how quickly the items donated can add up.

Ask for a Receipt

Deductions regardless of the amount or payment must be substantiated with a receipt. You can verify the amount given via a cancelled check, money order or credit card receipt. You can also ask the organization for some type of paper receipt with the date, name of organization who received the gift and amount. While you don’t need to provide the paperwork along with your tax return, you do need to have it on-hand in case you’re audited.

Re-assess Your Vehicle Gift

If you think that gifting your vehicle to an organization will garner you a huge deduction, you may want to think twice. In most instances, individuals who have used this method have received far less money than what they got by trading the car in or selling it outright. Per the IRS, you can only deduct the actual selling price agreed by the charity. You’ll also be required to attach a sale statement to your return. If the charity uses your vehicle and doesn’t sell it, you can deduct the fair market value of the car.

Deduct Only Money and Merchandise, Not Time

Money and merchandise aren’t the only ways to help a charity in need. Some people offer up their time through volunteering. But if you’re looking to deduct the hours come tax time, you’re out of luck. The IRS rules state you can’t deduct time spent by assisting others. But you can claim expenses related to your good deeds such as parking, tolls, uniforms, supplies and travel costs.

Giving to others is a wonderful feeling, especially when the organization holds special meaning. But it can also prove beneficial in the form of an income tax deduction. But before you go gifting your funds to various charitable organizations, you want to become familiar with the above contribution rules.


Three Reasons Why Good Credit History is Important in a Failing Economy

by Kaylie Phelps

The greater flexibility and enhanced purchasing power that good credit may provide can be an essential asset, especially during a down market or periods of economic difficulty. The numerous consequences of bad credit and past financial mistakes is not a concern that should be taking lightly. Having a poor credit history can make life difficult in ways that many individuals fail to consider. The following three reasons serve to highlight the importance of building and maintaining a good credit history.

One: Minimizing Potential Problems Through Increased Purchasing Power

Lacking the financial resources needed to ensure prompt action may be taken in order to resolve future problems and issues can lead to no end of complications. Those whose purchasing power may be limited to only the costs they can afford to pay out of pocket can find themselves in a very difficult situation when it comes to:

  • Automotive repairs
  • Medical costs
  •  Household maintenance and upkeep

Good credit means enhanced purchasing power and the greater flexibility that may be required to deal with any problems that may be lurking just over the horizon.

Two: Addressing Small Problems Before They Grow Larger in Scope

Failing to ensure a prompt and effective solution to a problem often allows minor issues to grow into fa more serious and potentially costly concerns. While the interest rates and future costs associated with a credit account may seem like an avoidable expense, being unable to address, resolve or even stabilize a potential problem may often be far more costly in the long run. The means to minimize the scope and extent of a situation or issue is never a resource that should be discounted.

Three: Taking Advantage of Time-Sensitive Opportunities

From lucrative investment opportunities to situations that may allow for more cost-effective purchases to be made, being able to capitalize on circumstances or situations that may be time-sensitive in nature can often be an important concern. Even the most unfavorable markets may still hold plenty of opportunities for those who know where to look. Ensuring that access to the financial resources that may be required to pursue a potential opportunity or future prospect may be arranged with greater ease serves to minimize or even eliminate many complications that might arise.

Improving Credit History and Creating a Financial Plan for the Future

From the guidance and education needed to assess current financial concerns with greater accuracy to debt-consolidation loans and credit counseling services, there are plenty of resources that can be made available to those who are interested in improving their credit score. Taking steps to rectify past financial mistakes and creating a plan for the future can make a world of difference in the days ahead. Good credit may prove to be an essential asset, one that can provide the greater flexibility and expanded range of options and solutions that can provide superior comfort, greater security and the means to ensure that surviving during a bear market or failing economy may be done with greater ease and success.


The Dark Side of Decluttering No One Wants to Discuss

by Mrs Money

I have been a fan of simple living/minimalism for many years.  I have worked hard to declutter our home and keep it as clutter free as possible even after adding to our family.  Over the past few years, I’ve tried many different methods in decluttering and simplifying our house.  One of my favorite methods is the Kon Mari method from the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  The gist of it is: if the item doesn’t spark joy, don’t keep it in your home.  It makes sense in theory: for example, if there’s a shirt that when you look at it, you don’t love it, chances are that you’re going to skip over that shirt every time you get dressed.  If you get rid of it, you won’t miss it.  Obviously there are some things in your home that don’t necessarily spark joy when you look at them- the toilet brush, your toothbrush, etc. but are imperative to have.  The idea behind keeping those items is that a clean toilet and mouth spark joy.  I agree with that.

One of the downsides of decluttering is that it can be addicting and you may never get to a point where you feel like you’ve gotten rid of enough.  Many people call this a “click point” and have achieved it after donating/selling/getting rid of many of their possessions.  For many people, however, the click point never comes.  These people can spend many hours/days obsessing over “have I gotten rid of enough?”, “what else can I get rid of?”, and “when will I get to the click point?”  I’ve seen moms in groups struggling to get rid of more when they don’t know what else they can get rid of.

I’ve heard that hoarding is a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  Part of me wonders if minimalism is a form as well.  Worrying and thinking and spending time trying to get rid of more, more, more, can be all consuming.  I’ve talked to many moms that feel that their walls are closing in on them from the clutter.  They work and get rid of more but believe they are getting nowhere.  Their houses are looking better to the outsider but to them, it’s still cluttered.

I think decluttering is not a one time event.  Stuff is essential to life- groceries, clothes, toys, toiletries, and you’re always bringing things in your house.  Not to mention if you have kids, chances are you know generous people that bring your kids toys and clothes.  If you don’t stay on top of the clutter, you’ll end up in the vicious cycle of feeling trapped and needing to get rid of more.  Here are some things we do to make sure we don’t end up feeling overwhelmed and cluttered.

Don’t go shopping unless we need something and have a list.  As much as I love Target, every time I make an unplanned trip there, even for just one item, I end up spending a lot more money and come out with more items than I had originally planned.  Target is one of my favorite stores and I have to limit myself to the amount of times I go and have a dedicated list of what I need from there each time I set foot in the store.  This helps tremendously.

Go through hand me downs immediately.  Our friends are very generous, and we’ve received many bags of girls’ clothes that their kids have outgrown.  While it may be tempting to keep everything “just in case”, I’ve found that the best thing to do is immediately go through the clothes and sort them into different piles.  Now that Penny is five years old, I involve her in the process.  She’s usually really good about helping me decide what stays and goes.

-Don’t buy seasons ahead. Buying kids’ clothes on clearance at stores, yard sales, and thrift stores can be a huge money saver.  However, I don’t buy tons of clothes before I need them.  For one, I hate storing tons of bins full of clothes in our basement.  Secondly, once kids get to a certain age, they can be picky about what they wear.  My mom is very generous and has purchased Penny many clothes from yard sales and thrift stores.  This summer all Penny wants to wear is dresses, so all the tank tops, shirts, and shorts my mom bought are now sitting in her closet not being worn.  I have actually had to purchase a few more dresses so that Penny has a variety of clothes to wear.  She still wears the same 5-6 dresses over and over again, with the new ones put in her rotation.

-When we notice we don’t need something, we put it in the donate pile immediately. I have a certain spot in our basement for donations.  When the area gets full or I get an email asking for donations (we really like to donate to Veterans of America-they pick the stuff up off the porch!) I deal with it.  I find it very helpful to have the spot in a location that is not in everyday sight, otherwise it can cause doubt once you see the item again.

-Visual clutter is a trigger for me.  I can’t stand seeing crap everywhere.  Open shelving, cabinets, book cases, etc. are all things that I don’t love.  When stuff is put away behind doors or in closets, I feel much happier and more relaxed.  I think at least the visual appearance is that things are pretty neat and clutter free even when they may not be.  However, I don’t appreciate “cleaning” by things being shoved under beds or couches even though I understand the appeal to five year olds. 😉

-Don’t compare ourselves to anyone else.  This is probably the hardest thing for minimalism/simple living.  I know I enjoy seeing pictures and videos of peoples’ homes.  I like seeing clean and uncluttered spaces. BUT I know when I see other people that have their houses completely clean, it makes me feel that my house is a cluttered mess and I need to have the same result as they do.  It’s just not possible- some people may not have kids, may enjoy different hobbies, and lead different lives than we do.  It’s not fair to compare apples to oranges.

If you’re on the minimalism/simple living life, have you found these thoughts to be true?  Have you gotten to the “click point”? 


When Can You Apply for a Tax ID Number Online?

by Mrs Money

Applying for a tax id number may seem like a daunting and overwhelming task. There is a way to take out the hassle by applying for a tax id number online at the IRS-EIN Tax Id website. It’s a simple form to fill out online and makes it easy to obtain the tax id number you’re after. However, you may be wondering when can you do this? How do you apply online with this service to get the tax id number you need for your business ventures? It’s very easy as you will see below.

Simple Online Process

Applying for Federal tax id is a very simple process. On the IRS website, you may find that the site shuts down at night and on the weekends making it difficult to fill out the paperwork on your schedule. The IRS-EIN website does not shut down ever so you can fill the form out any time of day or night, 24/7. The friendly tax assistants on the site can also answer any questions you may have during the process and help to make sure that everything is done properly and securely before you send in the form.

What Do You Need a Tax ID Number For?

Several different situations warrant a tax id number. Those include, but are not limited to:

? Sole proprietor or Doing Business As

? Filing for an LLC

? Taking care of an estate

? S-Corporations

? Trust

? And many others

Using this easy to navigate and secure system will help you to file for your tax id online and obtain your number within the same day. The site is safe and all your information is secure throughout the process. After you’ve filed your paperwork with your state and city to open up your business or the estate paperwork is filed, the next step is getting your tax ID number. This site makes it simple and painless.


How to Make Easy Extra Cash on Sports Betting: Your Important Guide

by Mrs Money

First things first: betting on sports will not really make you a millionaire, unless you are lucky enough to develop an effective mathematical formula to beat the odds. But sports betting can put some easy extra cash in your pocket, and besides, it’s an exciting and thrilling way to spend your time. If you like sports – whether it’s football, basketball, cricket, horse racing, or more – and you can come up with an intelligent estimate regarding game results and player performances, then it’s worth giving sports betting a try. Some tips and techniques can certainly help, as well. Here’s how to make easy extra cash on sports betting: your important guide.

Spotting potential

The very first aspect you should think about is this: sports betting is kind of like the stock market, in that you have to find the potential of a certain team or game before you can make that investment. You have to find the ‘value’ in something before you can bet on it, never mind that it’s under-valued at the moment. You have to see its potential for something big, and once you have mastered this through practice, you can make more intelligent choices when it comes to the games and sports you choose.

Finding a balance

Another way of making money on sports betting is to find a balance when it comes to the management of your bankroll. You have two basic goals: you have to make sure your bankroll grows, and you have to make sure that you avoid bankruptcy as well. The thing is, your bankroll will grow in a faster manner if you place higher bets.

But if you place bets that are too high, you are risking bankruptcy. The trick is this: always make sure that you never bet more than 1 to 2 percent of your total bankroll on any game.

Go with the right bookmaker

Although there may be plenty of bookmakers around, it’s important to find the right one. The problem is that some bookmakers actually don’t encourage players to win – in fact, some of them may even limit the activities of players who have proven successful. Fortunately, however, there are some bookmakers that don’t limit your winning potential and will give you the chance to rake in the big bucks. You just have to know where to find them. When looking for prospective bookmakers, check out reviews online so you have a better idea which bookmakers help their players win – and which bookmakers can actually stand in the way of success.

So there you have it – some tips and techniques to help you be a success at sports betting, enjoy your time, and earn some much-welcomed cash as well. Remember also to be patient – success at sports betting doesn’t happen overnight. It’s something that grows over time, and with practice. Practice makes perfect, after all.


Top 10 Ways to Become Financially Independent

by Mrs Money

Pop quiz: To be wealthy is to A) have a handsome salary or B) have absolute control over your time. If you picked A you’re…. wrong. The truly wealthy, those that are truly financially independent, are those who have the ability to do whatever they want whenever they want without having to worry about the consequences.

Even the professional footballer making millions of pounds a year has to show up for practice at a certain time and be on the plane with the rest of the team before it leaves for the big match in Munich. Whereas the guy who owns a chain of pizza restaurants, a car park, a convenience store along with some stocks and bonds is lounging on a beach in the Bahamas with no one to answer to and no alarm clock to bother him in the morning.

From Working Hard to Not Working

Achieving financial independence is not as complicated as one might think. What it takes is a willingness to embrace the mundane, a long term plan and the ability to stick to that plan. If you have those 3 things you stand a fighting chance of becoming financially independent at some point.

The following are 10 tips that will help set you on road to wealth accumulation and financial independence.

1) Spend Less Than You Make – Duh! Right? Well, yes and no. It may seem like a no-brainer but you’d be surprised at how many people cannot put this principle into action in their lives which often results in people having to seek debt advice. The truth is that if you can’t grasp this one the rest of the tips don’t matter much. It is the cornerstone of any wealth creation plan and the only one that is completely non-negotiable.

2) Ditch the Credit Cards – A pocket full of credit cards and the fees and interest that go along with them are like an anchor keeping your ship in port. Pay down any outstanding credit card debt then cut the cards up once and for all and redirect your money toward acquiring income generating assets.

3) Speaking of Assets – Sure the fancy car and inground pool might impress the neighbours but how do they help you achieve financial independence? The answer is they don’t. So don’t waste your money on them. Instead buy a car wash, invest in T-bills, open a self-storage business and buy real estate. These are the things that will truly set you free.

4) Work with a Purpose – You can go to work every day just so that you can make your credit card and automobile payments each month. Or you can work in order to save money to purchase income generating assets. One path leads to financial stagnation the other to financial independence. Can you guess which is which?

5) Cut Back – Embrace the notion of short term pain for long term gain. If you’re smart in how you do it that long term gain will be very gainful indeed. Cut back on non-essentials and direct the savings toward investments and assets that will generate income. Whatever you do don’t spend the savings on stuff. You know, stuff. Like huge TVs, sound systems, cars and cruises.

6) Reduce Your Tax Burden – People with big salaries but few investments tend to have lots of taxable income while those who have invested in real estate, businesses, tax free retirement accounts and more tend to owe minimal taxes at the end of the year. Invest your money wisely before the government takes it from you.

7) Review Your Situation Regularly – It would be great if we could make a few basic decisions, chart a financial course and put things on auto pilot. However, we live in a world where conditions and situations change at breakneck speed and so it’s important to stay on top of things by reviewing the effectiveness of your strategy at regular intervals. Don’t be afraid to make adjustments when needed.

8) Save, Save, Save – So far we’ve talked a lot about funneling your money toward income generating assets but that won’t be possible if you don’t exercise discipline and save, save, save. The person who can transcend the salary trap and reach financial independence is more of often than not the person who had the funds necessary to make that life-changing purchase or investment when the opportunity arose. And that was only possible because they saved enough money.

9) Don’t Depend on Education – Some people think if they go back to school to enhance their education they’ll wind up financially independent. Few things could be further from the truth. Education can be valuable in giving you a well-rounded world view and higher education is essential for careers in medicine and law, but for most people purchasing a car wash will be a better allocation of funds than going back to school.

10) Marry Wisely – Few things will torpedo a plan to gain financial independence faster than marrying someone who doesn’t see eye to eye on the importance of savings, investments and the purchase of income generating assets. Accumulating wealth is a long term process that requires everyone to buy into the game plan. Otherwise you could come home one day and find your spouse has bought a car with the money you were going to use for a down payment on an investment property.

Remember: no asset that generates income is a bad asset. While waste disposal isn’t a glamorous profession everyone needs to have their trash taken care of. Don’t be shy about purchasing or investing in things that aren’t sexy headline grabbers. Your only criteria for deciding whether to invest in a particular business should be “is there money to be made here?”

The road to financial independence is paved with discipline and lit with income generating assets and investments. There are no secrets. No magic spells to conjure and no substitutes for careful planning and long term commitment to the goal. Follow the above tips and never lose sight of the fact that your job should be a means to an end, not an end unto itself.

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    Welcome! I'm Mrs. Money and I lead a frugal, simple, and debt free life on a modest income. I make money online to help support our family. I believe in saving money, living green, and enjoying life!

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