Since this series began in January 2018 there have been over 1200 Posts from Your Archives where bloggers have taken the opportunity to share posts to a new audience…
The topics have ranged from travel, childhood, recipes, history, family and the most recent series was #PotLuck where I shared a random selection of different topics.
This series is along the same lines and is a celebration of Christmas and New Year.
I do appreciate that this is not a religious festival for everyone but it is a time of year when families and friends come together and our thoughts turn to our hopes and wishes for the coming year. A new series of Posts from Your Archives is coming soon.
Today author and financial expert Sharon Marchisello shares some tips on keeping more money in your pocket and less in the taxman’s… and to counter some of the holiday expenses. It is also a time when people are more likely to give to charities and at times it is difficult to select those that are likely to make the most of your donation…
Mitigating Holiday Expense and Tips for Charitable Giving by Sharon Marchisello
Christmas is over, most of the financial damage from holiday spending is done. Here are some tips to help you get back on track:
1. Return unwanted gifts promptly. No use keeping something that doesn’t fit or cluttering your life with items you’ll never use. Turn them into cash or exchange them for something you really want or need. Many stores have restricted refund policies, so maximize the value of these new possessions by getting this task done as soon as possible.
2. Return unused decorations and party supplies. Some stores have “all sales final” policies on seasonal items; if so, put these away where you’ll remember to use them next year. Holiday cards and wrapping paper will still be good for another Christmas. But maybe you bought extra cases of soda or bottled water for a holiday gathering, and now you’re stuck with more than you’ll ever drink? See if the store will take them back.
3. Use gift cards promptly, before they get lost or the value expires. What if you received a gift card for a store or restaurant you don’t patronize? There are a number of websites where you can sell or exchange them online.
4. If you received cash or checks as gifts, deposit the money right away. You can decide later if you want to treat yourself to something you really want, or use the funds to pay off holiday bills first.
5. If you’ve put your holiday purchases on a credit card that offers reward points, see if you’ve earned enough to cash in. Redeem those rewards before they expire or the program changes and the benefits are devalued.
6. Purge your holiday greeting card list. Update addresses that have changed since last year. If a card was returned as undeliverable, remove that person from your list until you make contact again. Next year, you’ll save yourself some cards, time, and postage.
7. Clean out your closets, including unwanted gifts you can’t exchange. Pack everything up and donate it to a local charity. Get a receipt so you can take a deduction on your upcoming income tax return.
Tips for Charitable Giving
Late December is probably the most popular time of the year for charitable giving. People are still in the holiday spirit, and those who itemize deductions may be thinking about ways they can reduce the year’s taxable income.
There are so many worthy causes out there. How do you choose which ones to support? And all charities are not created equal; some are better stewards of your donation dollars than others.
Here are some tips for deriving the most benefit from your charitable contributions:
1. Don’t respond to solicitations by telephone, unless it is a charity you recognize and plan to support. Ask the caller to send you some literature or refer you to its website (which should end in .org, not .com). A legitimate charity will not mind. The crooked ones will insist that you give them your personal information over the phone. Keep in mind that many fake charities have names that sound similar to the legitimate ones.
2. Make your gift online by credit card or mail a check so you’ll have a record of it. Most charities will immediately send a thank-you email confirming receipt of your online donation, with the date and amount—documentation you will need to support your tax deduction. And try to give directly to the charity, rather than through a paid fundraiser, who will most likely keep a portion of your donation.
3. Research the charities you are considering supporting. Charity Navigator (www.charitynavigator.org) assigns ratings of one to four stars based on the organization’s financial performance, accountability and transparency. You can see how much its leaders are paid, how much of its income goes to programs—as opposed to administration and fundraising—as well as how the charity compares to other organizations doing similar work. You may be surprised to find that some of the better known charities don’t score very well.
4. Charity Navigator only rates charities that have at least a million dollars in revenues, so many small, local charities will not have a score. Check Guidestar (www.guidestar.org) for copies of the organization’s tax return (Form 990), mission statement, customer reviews, and programming/governance information shared by the charity.
5. Ask if your donation is tax deductible. The organization’s IRS status as a 501(c)(3) or similar should be clearly noted on its website, receipts, and/or other materials. If you’re unsure, visit the IRS website to verify. Also, if you accept a “thank-you gift” such as a tote bag, dinner, magazine subscription, etc., in exchange for your donation, the fair market value of that “gift” must be subtracted from your tax deduction.
6. Think about supporting small, local charities so your donation dollars will stay in your community. Many of these organizations are run entirely by volunteers and thus have lower overhead costs than the national powerhouses headed by CEOs making six-figure salaries. Also, you might be able to visit the site, meet and talk to some of the volunteers, and observe how well the charity executes its programs. And if you can’t help with your checkbook, perhaps you can spare a few hours of your time?
What tips do you have for mitigating the bite of holiday expenses and for donating items or money to charity? I’d love to hear your comments.
©Sharon Marchisello 2022
My thanks to Sharon for sharing these useful tips and although tax year’s might be different we are all still faced with making our money go further and making sure the money we donate to charities is spent appropriately.
Books by Sharon Marchisello
My review for Going Home 30th September 2021
This is a well written and thought provoking story that combines a care crisis that many of us face with elderly parents who have developed dementia, and the unravelling of the mystery surrounding a murder in a family home.
It is clear the author has experience of the challenge of communicating with someone who has short term memory loss, and brings in a cleverly crafted murder plot with plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader interested.
There are flashbacks to the past and events which have a bearing on the present, and the reader is witness to the fallout that revelations result in as the search begins for a viable suspect amongst the outsiders who have access to the family home. It would seem that the authorities have only one suspect in mind, and without the ability to communicate coherently, an elderly woman must rely on her extended family to prove her innocence.
The author does a great job in keeping all the various strands of the plot running smoothly in parallel and brings the story to a satisfactory climax.
I recommend to those who enjoy well written murder mysteries and family sagas.
About Sharon Marchisello
Sharon Marchisello is the author of two mysteries published by Sunbury Press, Going Home (2014) and Secrets of the Galapagos (2019). She is an active member of Sisters in Crime.
She contributed short stories to anthologies Shhhh…Murder! (Darkhouse Books, 2018) and Finally Home (Bienvenue Press, 2019). Her personal finance book Live Well, Grow Wealth was originally published as Live Cheaply, Be Happy, Grow Wealthy, an e-book on Smashwords. Sharon has published travel articles, book reviews, and corporate training manuals, and she writes a personal finance blog called Countdown to Financial Fitness.
She grew up in Tyler, Texas, and earned her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Houston in French and English. She studied for a year in Tours, France, on a Rotary scholarship and then moved to Los Angeles to pursue her Masters in Professional Writing at the University of Southern California.
Retired from a 27-year career with Delta Air Lines, she lives in Peachtree City, Georgia, doing volunteer work for the Fayette Humane Society and the Fayette County Master Gardeners UGA Extension.
Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – and: Amazon UK – follow Sharon: Goodreads – blog: Sharon Blogspot – Twitter: @SLMarchisello
Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you have a wonderful week.. Sally.