The Friends & Family Rules of Giving
As you are sorting out items from your house, one option is to give items you are not keeping to your friends or family. While this seems like a great idea on the surface, make sure they understand they are allowed to gracefully decline such gifts/offers if they choose. It's also important for the giver to make sure gifts are appropriate:
- consumable products should be unopened and not expired
- should be working and unbroken/no missing pieces
- no take-backs; giver gives and lets go
- no expectations on use, condition or length of ownership
Make sure the gift is appropriate too. This is harder, but you know these folks, so use your best judgement. Giving my mom dozens of my houseplants would cause her undue stress and ensure their slow, lingering demise. While my friend Bonnie would love that bottle of tequila I was saving for a not-yet-planned Cinco De Mayo party, my 70 year old Aunt Bonnie would not know what to do with it. You get the idea.
True gifts should not be a burden or damage your relationship with someone you care about.
Donations and Charity Giving
Make sure everything is clean and in good shape – don't donate something you wouldn't use. Most places don't want items that are broken or worn out.
Obviously there are great places to donate to like Goodwill, Salvation Army, Disabled American Veterans (DAV), etc., but don't forget to consider donating to places you may have a personal connection to. We donated some of our excess pet products to the local animal shelter where we found our pets. We also donated dozens of our blu-ray movies to the hospice that took care of my sister. Both places had a profound impact on our lives with their good work and it was good to give back a little.
Before you spend the time to itemize your deductions, consult with a tax professional to make sure your deduction is worth the effort. In many cases it may not be and you can save yourself the time, effort and expense of collecting the details in lieu of a generic flat rate deduction. Either way, its not about the money, its about cleaning out the house effectively and letting you move on.
The Last Resort
Let's face it, some stuff has served its purpose and is no longer of use. There may be some guilt associated with this pile. Wasted money, time, effort, etc. Get over it and free yourself. Don't add insult to injury by trying to dump it on others or keep it.
Cut your losses and just let it go.