Best Way Assigning Values to Items Donated to Good Will

I’m supposed to be working on my taxes…but I thought I would pause and share my discovery. Being “Frugalfish” meant for the last couple decades I have itemized deductions. Yesterday I finished recording and documenting the items I donated to “Good Will” in 2011.

There were three different options for us:

1)      Price by size of the box.

2)      Use a valuations sheet.

3)      Use

In order to document my donations, I took pictures of them, had an itemized list, (noting new items) and the receipt from Good Will.

Mr. Frugalfish and I went over the receipts and determined the size of the boxes. Using option #1, we could deduct $750.00.

He went through the itemized list, using the valuation sheet, and found the deduction to be $792.00. He noted most items as new or having a high value. I do not count them as a high value unless the tags are still on them.

I used to come up with valuations. I listed 99% of the items at medium value. For the items not listed there, I went to and looked up the amount they were selling for. I printed off the Ebay pages as documentation should I ever be audited. Since I tend to go low on my values, I don’t worry about an audit. My total was $963.92!

The best part is… is FREE!!!

This year I am going to look up the valuations as I donate them. I know I will be getting the largest, most accurate deduction, and will not be overwhelmed come tax time next year!

Eat an Elephant

Diligence is often an overlooked characteristic. If you want to meet your financial goals, you must be diligent! If you want to meet your exercise, weight or career goals, you must be diligent.

When it comes to finances we all hope for a large blessing to help us get out of debt or establish a savings fund. It rarely happens.

It is much better to make a plan and set aside a reasonable portion to pay on your debt and build up your savings.

Then we have to be diligent. The beauty of diligence, and persistence, is after a while the money works for you! As you pay down debt the interest amount charged to the balance also goes down. As you put money in savings, the interest paid to the account makes the balance go up.

It’s like the old question, “How do you eat an elephant?”

The answer, “One bite at a time.”

Calmly Do Your Best

Abe Lincoln calmly did his best throughout his presidential terms.

“The preceding June the Republicans had nominated Lincoln for a second term. But they felt now that they had made a mistake, a woeful mistake. Some of the most prominent men in the party urged Lincoln to withdraw. Others demanded it. They wanted to call another convention, admit Lincoln was a failure, cancel his nomination, and place another candidate at the head of the ticket…

…Notwithstanding the vitriolic condemnation poured upon him, Lincoln went calmly on, doing his best and answering to no one.

‘I desire,’ he said, ‘to so conduct the affairs of this administration that if, at the end, when I come to lay down the reins of power, I have lost every other friend on earth, I shall at least have one friend left, and that friend shall be deep down inside of me …I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to the light I have.’”

“Lincoln the Unknown”, by Dale Carnegie

  1. No matter how bad it looks, calmly do your best and answer to no one.
  2. Do not make financial decisions to keep your friends happy.
  3. Be true to yourself.
  4. Success is not measured by victory, or friends.

Tyler Sash and the Former Ball Boy

Last night, Tyler Sash, of the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants, attended a Junior college, non-conference basketball game, to support his brother, the assistant coach.

Our son plays in the Jazz Band for the college they were playing and we went early to hear all of the pregame show.

Derek pointed him out to my husband who went over to say hello. The way Tyler grinned and gave him a fist bump made me think they had already met.

After the game he explained, when Tyler Sash was a junior in high school his football team played against our home team. My husband ran the chains for the local team and our youngest son was the ball boy. (They won.)

Tyler Sash was thanking a volunteer – a lifetime volunteer.

My husband started parking cars at the home football games the first year we were married. When a spot on the “chain gang” opened up it was offered to him. He has been at almost every home football game for three decades.

When our children started school, they issued a courtesy family activity pass to him. We got in to all the games, concerts and plays for free or a reduced price. With three kids, that must have saved us thousands.

He also was a volunteer youth basketball and baseball coach. His volunteering for the baseball team turned into a part-time summer job.

He hasn’t stopped. When our youngest graduated, he started coaching the youth football team for his nephew. (We were very popular at Halloween; the entire team came “Trick or Treating” at their coaches house.)

Invest in your school by volunteering; the rewards are priceless – like the photo I snapped of Derek with Tyler Sash.

Tyler Sash & my son, Derek

Lincoln Paid a Debt He Did Not Owe

Washington was famous for not telling a lie; but Lincoln went one step further and repaid a debt, half of which he did not owe.

“The morning Lincoln rode into Springfield, he not only had no cash reserves of his own; but, to make matters worse, he was eleven hundred dollars in debt. He and Berry had lost that amount in their ill-fated grocery venture back in New Salem. Then Berry had drunk himself to death and left Lincoln to shoulder the obligations alone.

To be sure, Lincoln didn’t have to pay; he could have pleaded divided responsibility and the failure of the business and have found a legal loophole of escape.

But that wasn’t Lincoln’s way. Instead, he went to his creditors and promised to pay them every dollar with interest, if they would only give him time. They all agreed, except one, Peter Van Bergen. He brought suit immediately, obtained a judgment and had Lincoln’s horse and surveying instruments sold at public auction. The others waited, however, and Lincoln scraped and saved and denied himself for fourteen years in order to keep faith with them. Even as late as 1848, when he was a member of Congress, he sent part of his salary home to pay off the last remnant of this old grocery debt.”

“Lincoln the Unknown”, by Dale Carnegie

I learned from this passage…

  1. It doesn’t matter how difficult things are, if we owe a debt, we need to pay it.
  2. If our partner dies, and it was a debt that we willingly incurred, we should pay it.
  3. We need to talk to all of our creditors and make a plan to repay them.
  4. It will not be easy; we will have to scrape, save and deny ourself.
  5. It will take a long time.
  6. Assign a portion of our salary, not too much or we will not be able to keep our word. (I have read from other sources to use no more than 20% of your salary to pay off debts.)



Lessons From Honest Abe

In honor of President’s Day, I wanted to share something I learned about my favorite president from the book, “Lincoln, The Unknown”, by Dale Carnegie.

“Lincoln…rode into Springfield on a borrowed horse, to begin what he called his ‘experiment as a lawyer’. He carried in his saddle-bag all his earthly possessions. The only things he owned were several law-books and some extra shirts and some underwear. He also carried an old blue sock stuffed with six-and-a-quarter-cent and twelve-and-a-half-cent pieces – money that he collected for postage before the post-office ‘winked-out’ back in New Salem. During this first year in Springfield, Lincoln needed cash often, and he needed it badly. He could have spent this money and paid the Government out of his own pocket, but he would have felt that that was dishonest. So when the post-office auditor finally came around for a settlement, Lincoln turned over to him not only the exact amount, but the exact coins he had taken in as post-master during the preceding year or two.”

Two things impressed me:

  1. All of his earthly possessions were books, shirts and underwear. (I need to cut back on my clothes budget and make room for a “books” budget.)
  2. He gave the post-office auditor the exact coins he had taken in as post-master of New Salem.

Now I understand why he was nicknamed “Honest Abe”.

Duct Tape Will Not Last Forever

I have shared many ways that I have extended the life of things in my home using paper clips, etc. It is important to know that I do not leave them as permanent fixes. I use them as a stop-gap measure while I save to replace the item.

  • I no longer have a paper clip in my toilet; I replaced the flaps and chains in both toilets, (See “Mr. Frugalfish Saves the Day” 11-09-2011).
  • I got a new dishwasher for Christmas and have repossessed my turkey tray, (See “Is It a Frugal Fix, or Am I Just Being a Redneck?” 09-27-2011).
  • I have a new gallon water jug to use to make sun tea, (See “Mr. Frugalfish Buys a Sun Tea Jar”, 09-23-2011 and “Oops, I Was Wrong”, 11-10-2011).
  • I replaced the sheer lace panels in my window with two full length sheers, (See Alter Your Curtains to Suit Your Needs”, 01-19-2011).

Sometimes you replace an item with a more energy-efficient model. The full length sheers were long enough to “puddle” on the floor. It makes a nice air lock for the cold air. They are more efficient than the lace sheers that I was using.

Plastic Canister is NOT Dishwasher safe.



















Lace Panels in Front Window.












Sun Tea Jar in front of new sheer panels.

Everyday Cocoa Brownies

Mr. Frugalfish was the most efficient Valentine. He made brownies for me using cocoa, not the chocolate squares. I think of these as everyday brownies because they do not require fancy ingredients.

Everyday Cocoa Brownies

½ C. + 2 Tbsp. Butter

6 Tbsp. Cocoa

1 C. Sugar

2 Eggs

½ tsp. Vanilla

¾ C. Flour

½ tsp. Baking Powder

½ tsp. Salt

½ C. Chopped Nuts, if desired

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Heat butter and cocoa in 2 quart saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until melted; remove from heat. Mix in sugar eggs and vanilla. Stir in remaining ingredients. Spread in greased 8x8x2 inch pan. Bake until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan, 30-35 minutes.

How Do I Love Thee?

Let me count the ways…

There is nothing more romantic than giving your sweetheart a list of everything you love about them. That means you will have to pay attention to the things they do and say to complete the list. When we are dating we study our sweetheart to learn their likes and dislikes. Tastes change over the years and it is a good idea to keep studying our mates.

Last week I recorded a movie that I thought my husband would enjoy watching with me. I was surprised when he said he wasn’t interested in it. But, my son sat down and enjoyed the same humor his father used to like. Maybe he was having a bad day, or maybe he has different tastes now. I need to find out.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and it is not too late to do something special for your sweetie. Just get out a pen and paper and count the ways you love them.

A Loaf of Bread, a Jug of Wine and Thou

The most important part of Valentine’s Day is not the chocolates, flowers or diamonds; it is being together with the one(s) you love. You don’t even have to make an elaborate meal! I am not a fan of wine, but I LOVE homemade bread. You don’t have to knead the dough if you have a bread maker.

Bread Maker Homemade Bread

1 c. Warm Water

1 Tbsp. Butter

2 Tbsp. Sugar

1 Tbsp. Non-fat Dry Milk Powder

1-1/2 tsp. Salt

3 c. Bread Flour

2 tsp. Bread Machine Yeast

Place ingredients, except the yeast, in the Bread maker in the order listed. With finger, make a small indentation on one side of the flour. Add yeast to indentation, making sure it does not come into contact with the liquid ingredients. Follow bread maker’s instructions.