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Right before the holiday season arrives is the perfect time to declutter, organize, and ditch your extra stuff. You’re not only about to receive a lot more stuff, but decluttering your home will also help keep some of that holiday-induced stress at bay. And decluttering before the end of the year could also help you with a tax deduction in April.
One of the hardest parts about decluttering is finding a place to start. Some people like to start with the easy tasks first, but I like to jump into the biggest job. If I get nothing else decluttered, at least I’ve tackled that big problem that nags me the most. For me, it’s usually the garage and the hall closet. Where does your clutter pile up?
Rules of decluttering
Before you start decluttering, keep the following four rules in mind:
Some great places to declutter in your house are the kids’ rooms, the kitchen, and the living room. Help your children go through their old toys and identify what they’ve outgrown, no longer play with, or don’t like. This is easier right before the holidays than it may be at other times of the year because you can tell the kids that their toys will go to kids who don’t have any. It’s a great way to declutter as well as to teach a life lesson of compassion.
The kitchen is typically the most-used part of a home and often gathers clutter quickly. Check through your gadgets and appliances—are there any you don’t need or can store somewhere else?
Since it is the holiday season, get rid of old decorations. People tend to let their decorations pile up without editing them down. So this year, check through what you already have and get rid of what you won’t use.
Rules of donating
If all this decluttering and organizing results in big piles of donations, that’s great—for both your community and your tax deduction. It’s actually quite easy to get a deduction on your taxes, but you need to follow these three rules, particularly if the value of your donation is more than $500:
Taking photos or videos of the items can easily check off the first two. You can also get receipts from companies like Goodwill when you donate. If you’re busy around the holidays, leave it at photos and a list. You can take care of the itemizing of your donations at tax time using software like ItsDeductible, from Intuit, or DeductionPro, from H&R Block, to find the value of your goods. If anything you donate is worth more than $5,000, though, you will need a written appraisal.
If you have collectibles or other higher-priced items to get rid of, consider selling them on eBay or Craigslist. You won’t get a tax deduction, but you could still earn a little extra holiday spending cash.
Michelle Stoffel Huffman is a researcher and staff writer for Think Glink Inc. Prior to joining Think Glink, Michelle worked for the Chicago Tribune as a daily news reporter and community manager, covering local government, business, tax issues and crime. She now specializes in real estate industry news, consumer financial reporting and home design and decor. She is a graduate of DePaul University in Chicago.
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