2017 is a new year and across the country, Canadians have locked in resolutions to guide their journeys in the coming months.

According to a recent poll conducted by Ipsos, 94 per cent of Canadians anticipate spending an equal amount or more on housing in 2017 when compared to 2016. This focus on the home has never been greater in Canada. As a result, many New Year’s resolutions centre on improving households and embracing the clarity and comfort of a tidy home (and beautiful homelife) can provide.

Purging your household and to declutter your home of unneeded and unwanted items is a good way to align with your resolutions. Better still, this can also provide ample opportunity to get rid of stuff you no longer need and give back.

For Canadians who have resolved to improve their households in 2017, here are 10 top tips for how to make these resolutions a reality.

1. Just do it… but not all at once

The key to any good resolution is realism. Set an objective but also, be conscious of what’s truly possible and realistic. For example, if you resolve to get rid of junk around your home, map out an action plan. Pick specific days for specific rooms. Focus efforts. Purge and renew gradually as not to become overwhelmed and to give the best consideration for what stays and what goes.

2. Go deep on closets, drawers and crawl spaces

Basic junk and unwanted items may be on the surface but for a deep cleanse, you need to empty those seldom seen spaces you typically ignore. Desk drawers, basements, storage closets, etc. These are prime areas of the household that clog in perpetuity in the name of “storage”, rightly or wrongly. Need a good approach? Empty these areas fully and then repopulate them, seeing which items might be of use to others outside your home and which might be best relocated to the landfill.

3. Make a YES or NO judgement on every item you own

Be ruthless and be decisive. This isn’t a suggestion to completely axe sentimentality and nostalgia but make a hard judgement on all items whether or not you really need them. If you haven’t thought of something for 2-3 years and you’re merely housing it for the sake of housing it, could be a good candidate for a purge.

4. Get practical about paper

We live in a digital age and with the normalcy of “The Cloud”, external hard drive and other digital storage solutions, it’s made it very easy to go paperless or near paperless. Chances are your home has pounds of paper that could be quickly converted to Jpegs or PDFs. A digital paper trail is always far more manageable from a seek and search perspective. Plus you don’t even necessarily need a scanner now–just grab your phone and snap away! Tiny Scanner is a helpful mobile app to convert them into PDFs right away. Find here on iTunes or in the Google Play store.

5. Evoke a personal return policy

We all borrow items from friends and family members for camping trips and home renos, garden parties and winter fun. Take inventory of all borrowed items in early 2017 and send them packing, along with a thoughtful thanks to their rightful owners. Further resolve to not allow other folks’ stuff to squat for extended periods at your place going forward.

6. Ask around

There are dozens of easy ways to ditch your unwanted items in the GTA. The Internet is your friend. Arm yourself with an understanding and use the Internet to connect with your fellow Torontonians who’d only be too happy to take your unwanted items. Just do your homework to ensure that recipients don’t back out on proposed pick-up dates and times. It happens.

Check out:

7. Look local, give local

Our warehouse in south Etobicoke is a great end destination for your old furniture and household items taking up space. We offer a furniture removal service in the Greater Toronto Area, and our trucks will come to your home to pick up your used furniture for a modest fee (and get you a tax receipt). The furniture we collect then gets chosen by families and individuals who are transitioning out of homelessness, newcomers to Canada & refugees and women & children exiting abusive situations referred through our network of partner agencies. It’s a great way to get rid of used furniture and household items you rarely use while helping families in need create a home.

Check out:

8. One in, one out…

Once your purge is complete, institute an easy to follow household policy aimed at curbing future clutter: For every new item that enters your household in future, another needs to leave. This will not only help to prevent the accumulation of household junk and excess, it’ll perhaps give you and your family a more measured approach to what is really needed and what is truly important. A great goal for 2017 and beyond.

9. Leave it to the pros

In some cases, you may just have too much junk to tackle on your own. If that’s the case and you don’t mind spending some money to get it out of your home, you can call on our friends 1-800-Got-Junk? Toronto. They do their best to ensure your stuff is recycled, donated or otherwise disposed in an ethical manner.

10. Keep it organized

To avoid falling back into a cluttered home, it’s important to continue to keep it organized even after you employ these tips. A popular blog and one of our favourite on how to continue to keep clutter a thing of the past is Apartment Therapy. Don’t let the name fool you. They have practical advice to declutter homes of all sizes.

For more home organizing resources, check out the downsizing section on our blog.

Donation Tax Credit

3-Step Guide to Get a Donation Tax Credit

We all know that donating to charity is a good thing. When you donate it helps out those who are less fortunate, it makes you feel good and it also gets you a tax credit. Whether you are looking to support a cause by making a monetary donation or a gift in-kind, this 3 step guide will help you do just that before it’s too late to save on your 2016 tax return.

Step 1: Identify A Charity

All causes are great, but you will be more comfortable giving to an organization that shares your personal values. Therefore, you’ll need to choose a charity that has an impact on what matters most to you.

In the context of tax credits, an organization must be a registered charity to produce a donation receipt. A charity will generally quantify the impact they have on their website, which can also help narrow down your choices.

Here are a few online tools that can help you identify a charity that’s right for you.

Step 2: Choose a Tax-Effective Donation Type

Once you have a charity in mind, it’s time to support it. There are two main donation types that can get you a donation tax credit: Financial donations and gift in-kind donations. Here is more information about those:

Financial Donation – Every registered charity should be able to produce a donation receipt for this type of donation. However, charities are not required by the CRA to emit receipt on every donation.

  • Verify that the charity will issue a donation receipt for the amount you plan on donating.
  • Visit the tax credit calculator on the CRA website to know more about the credit in your province.

Gifts in-kind – also known as non-cash gifts, are gifts of property. They cover items such as artwork, equipment, securities, and cultural and ecological property (Canada Revenue Agency, 2016).

  • Food, clothing, furniture, house appliances, electronics, construction material, books, toys, and sport equipment are the most common in-kind donated items. Here is a link about where to donate these items.
  • Shares, real estate, public traded shares, and securities are less common but can sometimes be even more tax-effective to the donor. Find out how to get the most out of gift in-kind donations in this KPMG article.
  • Before bringing all your stuff to a local charity, verify that the charity accepts the items you wish to donate and that it can produce a donation receipt for the type of gift in-kind.
  • If you have furniture laying around that you no longer need, for a modest fee starting at $100 we offer a professional pickup service in the GTA:

BOOK A PICKUP

Step 3: Claim Your Donation Tax Credit

Claiming your tax credit is not a big deal. It’s filing out your tax return which is the boring part… But we already need to go through that anyway. The Canadian Revenue Agency requires the official receipts to claim a donation tax credit on your tax return. Make sure to keep the official receipts in your personal records.

Also, since 2013 the Federal Government implemented the “First-Time Donor’s Super Credit” in order to incite donations from Canadians who have never donated before. It basically adds a 25% to the federal charitable tax credit for eligible donors. Find out more about it in this publication from Imagine Canada

Only donations before December 31st 2016 can be applied to your 2016 tax return. So, hurry up and donate!

Here are other useful guides you can find on the CRA website:

If you wish to contribute and support Furniture Bank, click the button below.

MAKE A FINANCIAL DONATION