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Sunday, July 17, 2011

What You Don't Know About Charities, Freebies, Fix for US Jobs

Bruce’s Poor Man Survival Bulletin

A Digest of Urban Survival Resources

ISSN 2161-5543

In This Issue:

1.       Things you might not know about charity donations

2.      How others are doing good in their community

3.      Legal assistance options

4.      A Fix for US Jobs

5.      Lots more free resources to help boost your life

Better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman.

--Proverbs 21:19

Donating to charity - things you might not know

Last week’s issue brought a few questions from readers regarding “ItsDeductible” and the overall concept of donating to charity.  Most of the questions centered on “why do these charities now charge so much for stuff they get free?”

If you’re a thrift store shopper you’ve no doubt noticed a significant uptick in prices charged on items at the Salvation Army, Goodwill and other non-profit stores, especially if you’re shopping for a used vehicle at what’s become another fundraising channel for many of these groups.

The reasons vary but it boils down to this.  First and foremost, these groups are a business, a big business and they pay their CEOs accordingly.  The CEO of the Arizona Goodwill, for instance, is reportedly paid more than $354,000 annually.  The person running the Salvation Army makes a fraction of that.


  Like any other business they have expenses and overhead and given current market conditions, the charities are capitalizing on demand (higher the demand, the higher the prices).  When it comes to auto sales, they charge as close to Blue Book value as possible to cover their towing and other costs while maximizing revenue.

If you shop thrift stores in order to find items worth reselling, your profit margins have been cut dramatically from these recent price hikes.  It is ironic how often store managers will place a printout of what an item is selling for on eBay next to a ‘collectible’ piece and then price it at the same or slightly lower than featured on eBay. They seem to forget they’re quoting the asking price, not what the item actually sells for.

Goodwill and Salvation Army, for instance, often charge more for used clothing than what you can pay for new clothing, especially if you shop sales at many discount stores.  Ironically, a huge profit center for these organizations is the bulk sales of used clothing to ‘rag’-vendors, who in turn, sell or donate them to third-world countries.

I’ve always maintained that Americans own enough clothing to outfit the entire planet, yet it is a common sight to see women, on sale days, with one or more shopping carts over flowing with clothing.  In Arizona, this was especially common among Mexicans who send these garments back to relatives in Mexico.

How Do I Handle Deductions for Non-Cash Donations to a Charity?

There are rules for non-cash donations such as property or outdated clothing, household furnishings, or office equipment.

For property owned for more than a year, the deduction is usually equal to the property's fair market value. Appreciated property can be deducted at the full fair value of the property, meaning that you are never taxed on the appreciated amount.

Donated goods must be in "good condition or better," according to the IRS. You must have a receipt for the goods from the charity to claim a deduction. If you donate non-cash items with a total value of more than $500, you must file Form 8283 with your return. You may need a qualified appraisal if you donate an item or a group of items with a value of more than $5,000

Is it worth your while to shop thrift stores?  I believe it is, as ultimately, you are helping charities, which in turn, help others who are in need.  In this issue we’re going to point out how some Americans are helping fellow citizens through good works.

Clumsy?  Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away. (Source:  Martha’s Other Hints)


PM’s ‘Betty Shocker’ Emporium of useful stuff…

eBay to Require More Generous Return Policies in SR2 Announcement

eBay's second round of changes for the year will roll out
beginning August 22 and will be the last seller update for 2011.
Sellers will get an extra 25 characters in their titles, and eBay
told sellers it would begin requiringmore generous return
policies early next year that include longer timeframes and
cash-back options.

Don’t throw out the water from the fish tank – pour it on your garden as a fertilizer.

Call overseas – free gives you 10-minutes of free talk to landlines in 50 countries – listen to a few short ads, then connect.

Cheap Textbooks

Cut the average $1,000 annual book bill for college kids by using these sites:, or rent them at: or

Compare CostsCompare checking account plans at banks and credit unions at: and compares 401(k) plans and financial advisors.

For the Right Kind of Legal Problem, Public-Interest Law Firms Are a GREAT Option

If your case has serious legal, social, or political implications, it might be of interest to a non-profit public-interest law firm. If a public-interest firm takes up your case, you could enjoy free representation from a staff committed to more than just raking in the cash.

If you’re battling against a coercive government agency, for example, you might consider bringing your case to the attention of the Institute for Justice (202-955-1300;, which helps people whose property, civil, or constitutional rights have been violated by government bureaucrats.

The Rutherford Institute (434-978-3888; defends civil liberties and property rights, including the rights of small businesses. The Institute has offered its legal resources to individuals and businesses whose Constitutional or civil rights have come under attack.

If someone from the government is trying to shut you up or invade your privacy, the American Civil Liberties Union (888-567-ACLU; may be able to help. The ACLU takes on some bizarre and questionable cases for sure, but they will often defend freedom of speech to the end, whether you’re an anti-war protestor or a high school student or a neo-Nazi or an Ordinary Joe. Contact the ACLU if you think your First Amendment rights are being infringed.

If you’re battling a labor union, let the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (800-336-3600; know about your case. Right to Work attorneys may be able to argue your case free of charge; if not, they can provide you with basic information about your rights and the types of strategies you might pursue for beating the union bosses.

Ease a dry night cough by sprinkling the pillowcase with apple cider vinegar.

Acts of Kindness – How others are helpingdemonstrating our CAN DO philosophy!

·        Repair old bikes and give them away to the needy.  Tom Hillebrand of Wis., a retired architectural designer, finds old bikes, repairs them and provides them to children and even folks without a car who otherwise couldn’t get to a job – 138 bikes so far.

·        Build a local tool library.  Aided with a $20,000 local grant Patrick Dunn and friends opened the West Seattle Tool Library, a DIY center offering workshops and loaning tools from a stock of 1,300 manual and power tools…people come in to build everything from a chicken coop to home improvements.

·        Building free bus shelters in Texas is what non-carpenter Omwali Lumumba does to help area kids withstand the heat.  All have benches and he places motivational flyers in each.  Much of his material is donated and he gets more from the Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore ( which sells donated building supplies.

Source:  Popular Mechanics-August 2011

What might you do to make an impact on your local community?  Share your story with us and get a free copy of our new CD ROM - Poor Man’s Practical Guide to Self Sufficiency

Wipe down cutting boards weekly with vinegar to clean, cut grease, and absorb smells.

The Nanny State Updates

20% Drop in Housing to Cause Recession in 2012, Says Gary Shilling

Gary Shilling, President of A. Gary Shilling & Co. and author of the Age of Deleveraging says another recession is brewing -- no matter what action the Fed takes. "Economic growth here and abroad is slipping, making a 2012 recession a distinct possibility," he writes in his July newsletter. And, "when you have slow growth it doesn't take much of a shock to throw you in negative territory."

Sneaky Dog Owners…after a New Hampshire apartment complex required dog owners to submit a DNA sample from their pets, so that unscooped poop can be traced.  Some residents are saying this is ridiculous but the complex says “I’m sure those are the people who are doing this.”

39% of Americans say the US economy is in permanent decline, up from 28% in October – CBS News

A Fix to restore American Jobs – the Parting Shot

If the country would like to generate more jobs for people, they must also create more businesses with openings for people to take. That is why The Huffington Post has shared a few ideas on how the government can help entrepreneurs jumpstart job creation.

1) A 30 percent refundable tax credit for members of accredited angel groups for investments in U.S.-based startups. This credit would be refunded in the first fiscal year the investment is made.

Encouraging angel investment is not only good conceptually, but there’s precedence for its ability to increase funding for innovative companies. In British Columbia, where a similar program was instituted, 80 percent of angel investors who received the credits increased the amount of their investments. Ultimately the program also benefited taxpayers, with every $1 of angel tax credits resulting in $1.41 of additional tax revenue from the recipient companies.

2) 100 percent exclusion on corporate income tax for qualified small businesses on their first taxable year of profit and 50 percent exclusion on the following two years of profit.

The idea behind this recommendation is that if a fast-growing company is able to avoid all its corporate income taxes for a year and pay at 50 percent of its regular rate the next two years, it can invest that precious cash into the business and grow more quickly.

3) Reducing the time it takes for SBIR/STTR grants to be approved from the current average rate of six to 12 months, to three months.

Beyond the technical progress it allows, what’s even better about these government grants is that they don’t need to be repaid and don’t dilute ownership in a company. It’s simply money companies need to continue developing cutting-edge technologies. And when an entrepreneur is working feverishly to get a new technology through the commercialization process, time really is money. Speeding up the process to know if you have up to $1 million on the way just makes sense.

That’s it for this issue from your humble public servant, the Poor Man

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