Money is tighter than in previous years for many of us and as the belt tightens, donations to charitable funds take a hit. How can you help others when you're having trouble making ends meet? I'm uncovering various money saving techniques to 1) improve your cash flow and/or 2) allow for easy contribution to charities.
*Improve your financial situation by bartering! Trading out time is a tax free way to get things done without hitting your checkbook. Go to http://www.timebanks.org/ to find a time bank in your area. It's a simple program, really. You make deposits by contributing hours to other members and you make withdrawals by receiving services contributed by others. For instance, if you paint you can contribute one hour of painting for someone and in return receive one hour of tax preparation. Use money saved to contribute funds to a charity of your choice! Most time banks charge a low yearly membership and most work under the rule that every person's time is created equal. You may make deductions up to the number of hours you contribute.
*Clean out your garage, closets, and attic. Not only will donating the goods to charity allow you a tax deduction, it also gives you an opportunity to live a clutter free life. Holding on to unwanted and unneeded items clutters your home and your mind. Grab a hand full of boxes or strong bags and reduce, reuse, or recycle. If you have particularly valuable items or collections you're willing to get rid of, you may also consider selling them and then donating the funds to a charity. If you want to help a charity that doesn't take used items, this is a great way to get money together for the charity. Considering a garage sell but no time? Think outside the box. Secure a metal collection box outside with items to get rid of and put up a sign allowing people to donate to your favorite charity in exchange for the item they take. You don't necessarily have to oversee collections. Just be sure to only have items out that you want taken!
*Volunteer time to your charity of choice. Again, be creative. If you want to help an animal shelter, volunteering time doesn't necessarily mean showing up on Saturday to clean out animal cages. Donate a skill (marketing, art, web design) to help fill a need for the charity. They will much appreciate not having to pay for those services. You may even build your customer base by showcasing your skills to the public in this manner.
*Give weekly with either an automatic payment or by payroll deduction. A small gift each week is less likely to be missed, but adds up to a generous gift by year end. If you don't think you can afford it, pick one thing you are willing to do without in order to stay within budget. If you can't commit to $10 a week because of money, would you be willing to drink water instead of soft drinks with lunch and donate the money saved each week? It adds up.
*Save your change and involve the whole family. Pick up a 5 gallon water jug and encourage every family member to empty their pocket change at the end of the day into the jug. At the end of the year tie a big bow around the top and deliver it to your favorite charity. Be sure to get them to empty it and send the container back home for you to do it again!
Be creative and share your tips on contributing in a tough economy in the comment section below!