Month : August 2013


5 Steps to Choosing a Charity to Receive Your Vehicle Donation


Thousands of vehicles are donated to charity each year. Every day and all over the country, donors like yourself are asking questions about the how, when, to whom and why of the donation process as they prepare their vehicles for donation. The first and most important aspect of donating your vehicle to charity is to select a charity that can truly benefit from your donation. The subsequent five steps can help you choose such a charity.

Research the Charity

Finding charities that accept car donations is the most important task of any vehicle donor. At a minimum, you want to find a charity that meets all of these qualifications:

  • Confirm that the charity is a tax-exempt organization. The IRS (Internal Revenue Service) recognizes certain organizations as tax-exempt. If you make a qualifying donation to a tax-exempt charitable organization you can receive a tax write-off up to a certain amount during your annual filing.
  • The charity is set up to receive vehicle donations. Not all charities have the process in place to accept vehicle donations.
  • The charity can provide you with the necessary paperwork to claim your tax write-off. They can provide you with the paperwork you will need to claim your tax write-off.

Verify That You Will Receive a Tax Write-Off

If your primary reason for donating your vehicle is to receive a tax write-off during your annual IRS filing, first verify that your vehicle is eligible for a tax credit. Here are the steps to do that.

  • The title of the vehicle to be donated is in your name. You can only claim a tax write-off if the vehicle title is in your name. If you need to transfer the title into your name, do that before donating.
  • Get a personal assessment of the vehicle’s value and condition. What you need here is an assessment of the “fair market value” of your vehicle before donation. The IRS only allows tax write-offs up to the full fair market value of your vehicle.
  • The charity is recognized by the IRS as tax-exempt. Once again, you cannot take a tax write-off if the organization you donate to is not authorized to accept tax-exempt charitable contributions (check this resource for more details).

Certify Your Vehicle’s Value

Getting an assessment of vehicle value is a step donors frequently overlook. Some donors assume the charity will provide this information to them. Other donors assume the vehicle value is the same as the Kelley Blue Book value. Still, other donors are unaware this step needs to be done prior to the vehicle donation. You need to personally get an assessment of the fair market value of your vehicle. The fair market value is the value of your car on the market after any necessary repairs or maintenance has been done. The Kelley Blue Book value of your car may represent the full value of your make, model and year of car in prime operating condition, but you must know the fair market value of your vehicle in its current condition.

Get a List of Your Donor Responsibilities

You also need to know what other responsibilities you have as the donor. For instance, it is your responsibility to be sure the charity can provide you with a written acknowledgement of donation value in 30 days of transaction completion. You are also responsible for handing over the vehicle title, removing valuables and delivering the vehicle safely.

Determine How Your Vehicle Will Be Used

Finally, you will to ensure that the vehicle will be useful to the charity. Some charities can maximize the donated vehicle’s value — and others cannot. It’s a good sign if the charity tells you they plan to sell the vehicle and use the proceeds in their mission, donate the vehicle to their constituents or use the vehicle directly in their work.

When you follow these five steps, you’ll know you have selected a charity that can accept vehicle donations and make good use of them. 

About the Author: Carla Morton is a tax attorney who assists her clients with making donations to various charitable entities.

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Money Management

The Path To Financial Freedom: Preservation

Imperfection in nature

Alright so your mind is in the game, you have all your expenses counted, and you set up boundries.

Now it’s time to do something with that extra money that you are gathering every month. What is it that you want? A vacation? A big screen TV? Nice.

Anyways, if you really want that kind of thing then you need to save that extra money in a place you can’t get to so it will grow and expand. There are several places you can keep that money. I’d recommend a service that can help you keep your eye on the prize.

I’d go with either ING Direct or Smarty Pig. Both of these have great abilities to set an account for a specific goal.

Squeeze Fund

This is the fund you need when the proverbial sh*t hits the fan AKA you’re in a squeeze. It goes by many names Emergency fund or oh sh*t fund are a couple but I wanted to be unique so I chose squeeze.

Anyways, this is what you need and honestly if you can get this up to $500 you are on the way to happiness. Most people say $1000 but I say that’s a lot of money and I think it’s a lot more motivating once you actually get $500.

So set up an account called Squeeze Fund in ING and try to build it up as fast as you can so if you get in a squeeze (haha like that?) you will be covered.

End Of The Road

The next thing you need to start saving for is your future. I recommend setting up an account in your ING savings account and call it Future. Then go and set up a ShareBuilder account and link them. Then once that’s all set up go and start an automatic investment once every couple of months and have the money taken out of your Future account. Just be sure to put money in the Future account every month so you’ll have the money to invest.

It doesn’t have to be a lot. A $20 here and there and your future self will thank you.

So that’s it. You are well on your way to Financial Freedom. If you want to continue to learn be sure to sign up for my Jump Start Your Financial Freedom eCourse and continue your education by checking back here each week for new knowledge for you.

I hope you enjoyed this series. If you have any questions be sure to contact me and I promise I will get back with you soon.

How do you invest in your future?

P.S. Some of the links in this post I earn a little bit of money from so I can pay my bills. But I promise to never to intentionally lead you to a bad company and to never let the money affect my opinion.

photo credit: Bonnie Woodson

Home Ownership

Choosing the Best Theme and Twinkle Christmas Mini Lights

Christmas lights always liven up the occasion regardless of the kind of decoration. They can bring the festive mood to any indoor or outdoor environment. Christmas is not complete without an array of decorative lighting fixtures. They come in various colours and sizes and can decorate windows, rooftops, trees and patios.

There is a variety of Christmas mini lights in the market. It is advisable to get your hands on them now before they run out of stock during the Christmas season. It is also important to choose mini lights with the best features for your Christmas decorations. You can find a wide variety of quality lights here

Colour is very important when choosing decorative lights. Christmas mini lights come in a variety of colours. You can choose a single colour on an entire string of lights or a combination of various colours on the same string. The different colours can brighten up a Christmas tree even with very few tree decorations. If you want white crystal lights, keep in mind that when you are decorating outdoors during winter, they will look more like frost than festive lighting.

The Christmas mini lights come in a fixed number of lights on every string. If you are decorating the exterior of your home, choose strings with more than a hundred light count so you do not have to put up many strings. You also get great deals for buying long strings than many short strings, as noted by Fusion Exteriors.

One important thing you need to be very keen on is the bulb technology used. The best Christmas lights bulb technology prevents the entire string of lights from going out if one bulb goes out. You do not have to go through the trouble of bringing down the lighting fixtures as you can just replace the single faulty bulb.

Choose mini lights that can also operate on a variety of lighting patterns. You have the option of chase lights or twinkle lights for that extra touch. You may need to purchase lighting controllers along with these lights to operate different lighting patterns. Animated lights are very impressive and the kids will love it! It’s never too early to start.