Keeping Track of Charitable Donations

making dollars changes

Today for Making Dollars Out of Change we have a guest post from Mary! One of the things we like to focus on at Madame Deals is being charitable. Using coupons and bargain shopping has helped Amee and I become more charitable. Mary is an expert bargain shopper and she is charitable by caring through coupons.

April 15th is right around the corner and that means tax time.  Are you looking for more deductions?  Here’s something you might have overlooked.  Most people are aware you can take a tax deduction for charitable donations of cash, clothing and household goods.  Did you know the retail value of groceries and health and beauty aids (HBA) which you donate to your local food pantry, church or homeless shelter is also tax deductible? 

Over the last few years our family has been forced to curtail our charitable cash contributions.  However, our other donations have grown tremendously.  The reason for this is we learned how to play the “savings game.”  By shopping the sales at grocery and drug stores, and matching those sales to coupons, we discovered we can stockpile tremendous amounts of food and HBA items for free or pennies on the dollar.  Many times, stores actually pay us to take these items off their shelves.  However, we could never imagine using all these things. 

That’s where the donations come in.  It’s simple—we keep a stockpile of three to six months worth of dry goods and HBA items—then donate the rest.  The results have been eye opening.  On average, we’ve been able to donate between $250-300 a month worth of groceries, HBA, school supplies, laundry detergent and paper goods to local charities.  The actual out-of-pocket cost of these items is generally around $50 per month.    

In order to track these donations, I set up a simple spreadsheet in Excel:

Date Item Qty Price Each          Total
2/1/09 Colgate Total Toothpaste 6.0 oz 6 $3.49 $20.94
  Stayfree Maxi Pads Super 32 ct. 2 $3.99 $7.98
  Prego Spaghetti Sauce 3lb. 1 3.99 $3.99
  Green Giant Peas 1 0.89 $0.89
6/7/09 Bayer Contour Glucose Meters 2 $79.99 $159.98
  Huggies Diaper Wipes (trial size) 1 $1.49 $1.49
  Hungry Jack Instant Potatoes 3 2.19 $6.57
  French’s Mustard 14 oz. 2 1.79 $3.58
  GRAND TOTAL     $205.42

When we gather our items for donation, I list them on the spreadsheet, noting the brand name, size, quantity and retail price.  I determine the retail prices by looking them up on and Harris Teeter Express Lane.  A running tally of the total is kept through the year.  When tax time comes around, this list is given to our accountant.

If you make these types of donations throughout the year, be sure to keep track of them.  Your savings could pay off again!

*I am not an accountant so be sure to run this information by your tax professional prior to filing your taxes.

Thank you Mary! Madame Deals is currently participating in the Penny Experiment by donating to the MACAA Food Pantry. To date we have donated $171.13 worth of food and we only paid $19.49 out of pocket! With coupons and good sales, you don’t need a lot of money to be charitable.

Now it’s your turn! If you are a blogger, write a post about your idea for making dollars out of change. It can be on any topic as long as it has to do with saving money. Please place a link back to Madame Deals in your post. Then come back here and add your post URL to the linky. Please post directly to your post and not your homepage.

If you do not have a blog, we still welcome and encourage your participation! Please leave your thoughts in the in a comment below!

This post is linked at My Coupon Teacher and Melissa’s Bargain Blog.

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  1. says

    Great tip. How do you go about selecting a charity or does it depend on what your donating? Do you have a favorite? I often time have clothes, food, and just plain odds and ends. Sometimes I wish I could give them directly to a person who needs them.
    .-= Katie´s last blog ..Printable Coupon Round-Up =-.

    • madamedeals says

      Hi Katie,
      I chose to donate to MACAA based on information Mary gave me. It was important to me to donate to an organization that gives to people in our county. Some of the rural areas of our county are very poor. MACAA also accepts clothes and household items that they sell in their thrift store. The thrift store generates money to give to needy people in order to help pay their utility bills.

      Start asking around and find a charity that truly gives back to the community!

  2. Jenny says

    THis is great info. My husband was all worried about getting the tax deduction since we started donated my stockpiled items. This way I can easily track it and I take pictures to make sure I have a record. Wonderful!


    • says

      If you are using ECBs, RRs or rebates to get these items for free, I am sure that you can use the retail price. In my opinion ECBs and RRs are like money! Another way to look at it is that when you donate clothes or household goods, you estimate the price you could have sold them for. Sometimes what you can sell them for is not what you pay for it! But of course, do your research!

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