Clearing the Clutter Helps Chicago Savers Get Organized for 2011

You've heard of spring cleaning, but did you know switching to winter cleaning can save you some money?

With just days to go until the New Year, there's still time to make some charitable donations that can increase the size of the tax refund you receive next year. If you're like most Chicago residents, you're probably feeling a little tapped out financially. But you can still deduct donations from your taxes, even if they aren't monetary.

If you've got some time off during the holidays, don't waste it lounging around. Instead, go through your home room-by-room looking for things you don't use. You know those Christmas gifts that aren't your style? Those clothes the kids have outgrown? Those old, long-outdated cell phones stuck in your desk drawer? That junk could be someone else's treasure.

Here's where it gets a little bit tricky. If you want a tax benefit, you can't just dump your old stuff off behind Goodwill. You need to make a list of your donations and estimate their value - not what you paid for them, of course, but what they're worth now. If you're unsure, browsing thrift stores or eBay for similar items can help. Then keep a copy of your list for your records, just in case you get audited someday.

Besides reducing your taxes, you'll clear out some clutter and start the New Year with a cleaner, more organized house - not to mention a clean conscience for doing a good deed. While you're at it, why not clean out your financial baggage as well? Getting out of debt can improve your finances all year long, not just at tax time. Having trouble getting started? Bankruptcy can help. Right now at DebtStoppers, it's free to find out if bankruptcy could be the ticket to your financial freedom when you give a complimentary one-on-one debt analysis with a Chicago bankruptcy attorney a whirl.

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