It sounds impossible that giving your stuff away could save you money, but here we'll outline some ways that make "cents" as well as sense. You’ll never get rich by giving your things to charity, but giving away the things you don’t use may have bigger benefits than you’d expect.
Here are some ways that giving it away will save you money:
The IRS thinks that donating your stuff is like donating money
Never mind that you haven’t used the junk stacked in the garage in years, if it is still in working condition, you can donate it to a charity that wants it and get a tax deduction equal to the retail value of the used item. In the U.S., you can donate and deduct up to $500 per year without elaborate records. It’s a good idea to get receipts, but if you’re not donating more than $500, you don’t need to worry about sophisticated guesses about values. Just make reasonable guesses. (A 20-year-old tie with mustard stains isn’t worth $32.)
You’re buying furniture just to store it
Most homes are full of stuff crammed into closets, cupboards and corners that are never used. The size of your home is, in part, determined by the amount of stuff you have. If you have less stuff, you need less furniture to hold it.
Less furniture allows for a smaller home
If you have less furniture, you need less house. Houses cost a lot. While, it would be costly to purge your house of stuff just to move to a smaller house, it makes a lot of sense to think about a serious purge to avoid moving to a bigger one. You can open up and create all kinds of space in your current home by getting rid of unneeded furniture and the stuff inside it.
What’s really in that storage unit?
If you have a storage unit that you rent to store old junk, ask yourself how long it’s been since you’ve been to the unit to visit your stuff — forget using it. Chances are you’re paying to store stuff you haven’t used in years.
Giving it away may be cheaper than selling it
Think of all the hours of work and money you might spend to advertise and promote a yard sale or eBay listing. For all but your most valuable stuff, you may be money ahead just to give it away.
Giving your stuff to a charity that will either sell it to raise money or use it to carry out its mission can make a huge difference to the recipient. A homeless man with clean socks and a warm blanket may suddenly feel completely different about himself knowing that someone cared, perhaps enough to seek the help he needs to get off the street for good. A thrift store that provides employment training to people struggling to survive in our modern economy helps to bring entire families out of poverty and into the middle class. You can (and should) feel proud of yourself for donating your old stuff to your favorite cause.
Devin Thorpe, husband, father, author of Your Mark On The World and a popular guest speaker, is a Forbes Contributor. Building on a twenty-five year career in finance and entrepreneurship that included $500 million in completed transactions, he now champions social good full time, seeking to help others succeed in their efforts to make the world a better place.