Pay It Forward

This Friday we will be attending a charity benefit for an organization dear to us. For the past 5 years, my husband and I have attended the Support Connection charity benefit, which is run to raise money for the Support Connection team. Support Connection is a group that helps those diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancers, and their family members, cope with the disease. “Support Connection is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. Our mission is to provide emotional, social and educational support services to women, their families and friends affected by breast and ovarian cancer. The support provided enables women to help each other and empowers them to become their own health care advocates.” Both my husband and I have had family members who were diagnosed with these cancers and, thankfully, overcame them. Attending this annual benefit always puts things back into perspective for us. We want to pay it forward as much as we can. While each year we donate about $1,000 dollars, combined, to different charitable organizations (Support Connection, SPCA [we love animals], Cystic Fibrosis, American Heart Association and the college we both graduated from to name a few), this year we wanted to do more.

Although making and saving money is extremely important, it is just as important (in my opinion) to help others. The more money we make, the more money we’d like to give. There are so many different ways to give back to the community; I’ve listed a few below.

Donate your time: One of the easiest ways to pay it forward is to simply donate your time. We try to dedicate at least a day or two per year to helping others, whether it be volunteering at a local food shelter to help prepare and serve meals or simply raising money and participating in walks or runs that support good causes.

Save those clothes: Every year my husband and I go through our closets and get rid of some of the things we didn’t wear that year, primarily because the closets are so small, but also because it’s a waste if we have things we aren’t using anymore. We then take the clothes that we didn’t wear, as long as they are in good condition (no holes, rips or tears) and give them to Goodwill. We keep a detailed list, along with our donation receipts, of all the items we donated and then price those items out using the Goodwill Valuation Guide. It’s a win- win for us because we get donate clothes to help those who need them and we also get a tax deduction for the donation (this is why the itemized list is important). Other places that usually accept clothing are local churches, homeless shelters, and battered women shelters.

Cash or Securities: Donating cash or investment securities to a specific charitable organization is another way to give back. Some people find it easier to donate cash or securities, and there is nothing wrong with that! The money donated goes a long way and even the smallest amounts matter when it comes to giving back, so no amount is too small. The benefit to donating cash or securities is that these types of transactions are also tax deductible as long as the organization you are donating to is a recognized 501(c)(3) organization by the IRS.

Bedding/Pet Accessories: As I mentioned above, my husband and I donate to the SPCA each year. While part of this donation is a cash donation, we also donate some materials things. Our local SPCA accepts human blankets and pillows to be used to line the kennels that the animals are in. Additionally, they accept cat/dog food, leashes, collars, treats, toys, bones, brushes, litter boxes and more. If you’re an animal lover like us and want to donate, visit this page here to see the non-cash items you can donate. If you donate these items, you can use the value of these items as a deduction on your taxes, as well.

Cash in your car: Do you have an old car that is just sitting in the driveway useless? Or is your car in such bad shape that the dealer won’t accept it on a trade in. If so, you may still be able to get some money out of it. That car can be donated to an organization like Kars4Kids, or any other recognized 501(c)(3) organization, and you can receive a tax deduction for that donation as well. This way you not only get rid of your old car, but you can also save some money when tax season rolls around. It’s another win-win because the car is being donated to a good cause and you are able to reap a small benefit in your taxes (assuming you itemize deductions) when tax season comes.

What are we doing extra this year?

In addition to the donations noted above, my husband came up with a creative challenge using the blog as an indicator. The challenge is as follows. We will set up a scholarship to the high schools we each graduated from before attending college. The scholarship will be awarded to a student to use in college for books, tuition or another other purpose to further his education at the next level. The amount awarded will be determined based on the average number of monthly views on my blog over a 12 month time frame! For example, if my blog averages 1,000 monthly page views, then we will donate $1,000 to our former high schools in the form of a scholarship. We have been discussing wanting to create scholarships at our high schools for a while now, but wanted to wait until we were financially comfortable to do so and then we were unable to determine the appropriate amount. This is a good motivation for me to grow my blog because I am always up for a challenge!

What do you think about this challenge? What ways do you pay it forward?

13 thoughts on “Pay It Forward

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  1. I’m part of this local surfing club that heads down to the beach to pick up trash once every week. Our beach can get pretty crowded, with thousands of visitors on weekends. Since most of these visitors are tourists, a lot of them leave trash behind which damages the beach/ocean in the long run.

  2. I hope your charity benefit goes well tonight!

    So many times I look in my closet and am amazed at all the clothes I STILL have and don’t wear. We donate at least a couple large bags of clothes once a year. But for some reason, I still feel like our closet is full to the T :-/. I think I may incorporate the ratio for every one article of clothing I buy to donate 3 existing pieces.

  3. Thank you! It should be a good time for a great cause!

    As far as clothing, I definitely get that. Our home was built in the 1960s, so the closets are very small and, naturally, full. I like your idea! My husband actually has me do something similar. For every pair of shoes I buy, one must be donated (I have a minor shoe addiction). This has been beneficial both space wise, for us, AND charity wise, for Goodwill!

  4. I donate to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, one of my friend passed away a few years due to complications.

    I also need to donate clothes, I must have at least 50 pounds of unused clothes sitting in my apartment, taking up space. I’ve gained too much weight and won’t fit.

    I really like your scholarship idea, I hope you do well! I got a few small scholarships when I graduated from High School, and they really helped me afford books

    1. I’m so sorry to hear about your friend. That is a great way to honor him/her though!

      You should try to make it a habit once or twice a year to go through all your clothing and donate! That’s what my husband and I do and it really feels great to know that someone will be getting use out of things that were just sitting in our house.

      Thank you very much! I’m glad to hear that even the small scholarships were helpful for you. I hope ours well do the same for someone else 🙂

  5. My wife and I try to pay it forward by volunteering at Church filling in where ever we can. I volunteer through the financial ministry and my wife helps out where ever they need help. It’s wonderful to serve and donate towards causes that we both really believe in 🙂 Thanks for sharing your story!!!

  6. Great ideas. For non-useable clothes (rips, or stains) there are textile recyclers that will take them. There are also places that will recycle unusable shoes. My local PUMA store will take the shoes and textiles! You can google textile recycling to find places near you though!

    1. I had no idea! Thanks for the suggestion! I will definitely be looking into this because I feel terrible throwing things out when they don’t fit Goodwill’s standards. I’m glad these things can have a chance at a second life 🙂

  7. Courtney,
    With the new tax law changes, I am concerned that keeping track of all the charitable deductions will no longer be of much benefit to any of us. I used to do all the same things you are talking about but in 2018 and beyond giving to charities and clothing donations are not really going to impact your taxes unless you have lots of money to donate. Others have talked about giving to charities every 3 or 4 years and then giving them the big lump sum. That certainly can’t help the charities very much since all of them have to budget year to year. I’ve seen some investment tools from Fidelity and others which try to circumvent this issue by having you give them the big lump of charitable cash( 3 or 4 years worth) and then they parcel it out monthly or yearly to the charity.
    I don’t know if you have looked into this issue or if you have any thoughts on it.

    1. Hi Alan,

      I think you make some great points. We definitely have not been as eager to rummage through our closets for donations this year (though we have still done it, just not as often) due to the fact that I don’t believe we’ll be itemizing this year.

      We have still kept up with our cash donations to charities, however, as we feel very strongly about donating still. I do think the new tax laws are probably negatively impacting charities, which is unfortunate. While I’m sure the charities are glad to receive donations at any time, consistency is important for many of them to keep up with annual expenses.

      I think it’s great that Fidelity and other companies are trying to help find a way around this, though.

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