Make the contribution using a check or credit card.
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.