Make the con­tri­bu­tion us­ing a check or credit card.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Success - Jill Schlesinger, CFP, is a CBS News Busi­ness An­a­lyst. A for­mer op­tions trader and CIO of an in­vest­ment ad­vi­sory firm, she wel­comes com­ments and ques­tions at [email protected]­lon­money.com.

Never send cash do­na­tions or wire money to some­one claim­ing to be a char­ity. If you are plan­ning to send a check, your pay­ments must be post­marked by mid­night De­cem­ber 31 — just writ­ing “De­cem­ber 31” on the check does not au­to­mat­i­cally qual­ify you for a de­duc­tion; and pledges aren’t de­ductible un­til paid. Do­na­tions made with a credit card are de­ductible as of the date the ac­count is charged, so if you are a lit­tle late in the process, you prob­a­bly should stick to credit cards.

OK, so now on to the other part of the season — spend­ing. With eco­nomic growth on the up­swing and un­em­ploy­ment at a 49-year low, you may be thank­ful this year for more sta­bil­ity or sat­is­fac­tion at work, a slightly larger pay­check or bet­ter job prospects for the fu­ture.

You may also feel en­ti­tled to spend a lit­tle more to cel­e­brate your good for­tune, but here’s a piece of fi­nan­cial ad­vice from Buzz Kill Jill: Don’t spend too much money! Be­fore you get dragged down the hol­i­day rab­bit hole, get your head on straight and don’t go crazy. That means start­ing with a list of what you can af­ford and then stick­ing to your game plan.

Ac­cord­ing to Deloitte’s an­nual fore­cast for the hol­i­day season, shop­pers are us­ing a blended ap­proach to the shop­ping season and plan to con­duct both on­line and in-store re­search be­fore mak­ing a pur­chase. To help, down­load apps like ShopSavvy, which al­lows you to scan the bar­code of any prod­uct and com­pare the best prices avail­able; Shop­u­lar, which pro­vides news of deals, coupons and lo­ca­tion-based no­ti­fi­ca­tions; and Flipp, which cre­ates dig­i­tal ver­sions of cir­cu­lars from re­tail­ers and com­bines coupons with th­ese lo­cal fly­ers for sav­ings. You should also check out Honey, a free browser ex­ten­sion that au­to­mat­i­cally finds and ap­plies coupon codes at check­out for over 30,000 shop­ping sites.

Good luck nav­i­gat­ing the para­dox­i­cal season.

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