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The Great Mystery of Household Accumulation


Have you ever noticed that no matter the size of your apartment, condominium, house, garage, drawers, closets, hard drive, handbag or briefcase — it mysteriously fills to capacity?

Our first apartment was 300 square feet. We were newlyweds and still in that “cozy stage,” so it wasn’t a problem. Three years later we were packed to the gills and longed for a little breathing room, so we moved into a 1,200 square foot house. Wow, so much extra space. In what seemed like the time it took to unpack, the place mysteriously filled to capacity. Three years later we moved into an 1,800-square-foot house with a big family room addition and double-car garage. Again, whatever that filling thing is, it kicked in, and soon we were full to the rafters.

Twelve years later we moved into a house twice the size, where we still reside — and you guessed it, we’re full. Paring down, cleaning out and simplifying has become an unrelenting challenge. Recently, I did a lot of that paring down and cleaning out. Today, I have mixed emotions. On the one hand, I have that wonderful “clean” feeling because I just got back control of several closets and rooms in our house. But on the other hand, I’m hanging my head in shame.

How on earth did we accumulate so much stuff? And it was not pleasant. I gave away and threw away more stuff than I could believe, and not without pain. Oh, how I struggled!

After a couple of trips to the charitable collection center and, sadly, the city dump… I’m a new woman! I love this “cleaned-out” feeling. I’ve renewed my determination to ask myself these questions before I bring anything of significance into this house in the future:

Can I afford it?

Do I really need it?

Do I need it now?

Do I have something like it already?

Can I find a cheaper substitute?

Is this the best deal?

Then I’m going to go home and think about it for 24 hours. If I decide to go back and buy it in the morning, I’ll know without a doubt this object can come into this house. By the way, I will take a deduction for the fair market value of the items I donated to charity, as allowed by the IRS, using the tool, Money for Your Used Clothing, to determine the fair market values of the items I donate.

This booklet, written and updated each year by William Lewis, CPA and tax professional, contains specific market values that are guaranteed, for more than 850 common household and clothing items the IRS will allow me to deduct.

You need this tool if you itemize your federal tax return? If you don’t, it’s like leaving money on the table. I have a few copies of the 2012 Tax Year edition of this booklet, in case you extended and have not yet filed for Tax Year 2012 — and want to make sure you take every deduction allowable. Please do not leave any money on the IRS’ table! Call 800-550-3502, and I’ll get it into the mail to you, pronto.

By Mary Hunt

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