February 24, 2011

Keeping Track of Charitable Donations

In case you’re new here, we have a “tax time rerun” for you today.  One of the things we focus on at Madame Deals is being charitable. Using coupons and bargain shopping has helped us become more charitable and one of the easiest ways to be charitable is through our use of 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:

DateItemQtyPrice Each Total
2/1/09Colgate Total Toothpaste 6.0 oz6$3.49$20.94
Stayfree Maxi Pads Super 32 ct.2$3.99$7.98
Prego Spaghetti Sauce 3lb.13.99$3.99
Green Giant Peas10.89$0.89
6/7/09Bayer Contour Glucose Meters2$79.99$159.98
Huggies Diaper Wipes (trial size)1$1.49$1.49
Hungry Jack Instant Potatoes32.19$6.57
French’s Mustard 14 oz.21.79$3.58

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 CVS.com 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.



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I work as a real estate paralegal at a family-friendly law firm. Raised in the suburbs of Washington, DC, I graduated from UVa and met my husband, Mike, in our hometown of Alexandria, VA. Fourteen years ago, we took a leap of faith and moved our family out of the rat race to a small, rural community near Charlottesville, VA. Mike is my "OOH RAH man" and career real estate broker who is now enjoying life on a bucket list. We have three children, Bubba, (who married the girl of his dreams), Sissy, and Missy (now an "only" child). In the last few years, we've been blessed with two grandchildren (a girl and a boy). I love a bargain and have gained a reputation over the years for being quite the "coupon queen."

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