Author Topic: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site  (Read 6487 times)

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Lynn2000

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Re: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site
« Reply #45 on: January 03, 2013, 10:28:26 PM »
Yes, a couple of weeks ago my mom wanted to clean some old magazines out of my room at her house, and I contacted a friend to ask if she was interested in selling them on eBay (as she's sold things for herself before there). I repeatedly mentioned that I didn't want her to think I was foisting my old junk on her, and suggested that she come to my place and go through the stuff with me and only take what she wanted (thought would sell). And gave her clearance to throw something in the trash later if it didn't end up selling. I just wanted to be really clear with her that I wasn't pressuring her to take something she considered junk, or even making her promise to give it back to me later.

I think it's interesting how these threads intersect with "regifting" threads. At one end we have bags of broken stuff left on people's porches by givers who are at best clueless about their recipient's wants; at the other we have someone rewrapping and passing on a brand-new, sealed DVD they just got the day before and didn't want, but knew their recipient would love. But there is plenty of grey in the middle for people to debate the merits of...
~Lynn2000

Carpathia

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Re: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site
« Reply #46 on: January 04, 2013, 07:29:38 AM »
I guess the question to ask is cui bono? or 'who benefits?'.

If the main purpose of giving something is that it will be welcomed by the recipient, then any feelings of generosity or nobleness on the part of the giver are just happy side-effects.

If the main purpose of the giving is so that the giver can feel those feelings, then perhaps they need to look at what they are giving and to whom. Charity shops, local homeless shelters etc are often just as welcoming of this sort of giving - just check what they want to receive first.

Moralia

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Re: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site
« Reply #47 on: January 05, 2013, 12:21:41 AM »
Donations are tax-deductible. If someone wants to give me hundreds of dollars off  my taxes for the low price of dropping items off at the Salvation Army, I'm not gonna argue! Heck, I've rescued nice stuff from the curb just because I knew it had a good donation value! Just food for thought.

greencat

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Re: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site
« Reply #48 on: January 05, 2013, 12:35:18 AM »
Ah.  I see you all have met my mother and my ex's grandmother.  I finally put my foot down after the kitchen inventory revealed the second mandolin slicer, third blender, fourth toaster oven, fifth 9x13 glass pan, and sixth giant pasta pot.  Not to mention the assortment of small single-purpose kitchen gadgets...


CakeEater

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Re: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site
« Reply #49 on: January 05, 2013, 04:10:19 AM »
Donations are tax-deductible. If someone wants to give me hundreds of dollars off  my taxes for the low price of dropping items off at the Salvation Army, I'm not gonna argue! Heck, I've rescued nice stuff from the curb just because I knew it had a good donation value! Just food for thought.

Just curious - how does that work? What do you get a receipt for? I don't think that's possible here. (Australia)

blarg314

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Re: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site
« Reply #50 on: January 05, 2013, 04:55:09 AM »

I've found that people tend to vastly overestimate the value (monetary or otherwise) of their own cast-off belongings.

You can see this when people sell stuff - people will post used furniture or out-of-warranty electronics for 1/2 or more of the original purchase value, and then be puzzled why no-one is buying. They don't realize that yes, it was a very nice couch when you bought it, but it's used now - people are buying it with no return policy, and with the risk that there might be something wrong with it. If you're trying to sell it for more than about 20% of it's original purchase price, people are not going to pay attention.

Then there's the problem of the 'almost useful' stuff. The shirt that will be great once you soak the stain out and sew on some buttons. The lamp that just needs a bit of electrical work. And so on. When it comes to giving stuff to thrift shops or charity a good rule of thumb is that if it's broken or dirty, or is not currently usable for it's intended purpose, don't give it away. They're not going to use it - all you're doing is making someone else sort through it and dispose of it.

Slartibartfast

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Re: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site
« Reply #51 on: January 05, 2013, 05:06:25 AM »
Donations are tax-deductible. If someone wants to give me hundreds of dollars off  my taxes for the low price of dropping items off at the Salvation Army, I'm not gonna argue! Heck, I've rescued nice stuff from the curb just because I knew it had a good donation value! Just food for thought.

Just curious - how does that work? What do you get a receipt for? I don't think that's possible here. (Australia)

In the US, when you donate items to charity you get a receipt where you can declare the value of the items (although nobody really checks, so people make up values all the time).  Then when you pay your taxes, you can choose whether to take the "standard deduction" (around $10,000, but varies depending on your family size and whether you're married or not) or to itemize your tax deductions.  If you itemize, you add up things like charitable giving, mortgage interest payments, medical bills over a certain amount, etc.  Then you end up subtracting your deduction (the standard deduction or the total of your itemized deductions) from your gross income, and you only pay taxes on the net.

Even though you hear about getting a tax write-off pretty frequently, the standard deduction is more than most people would get itemizing (unless they donate an unusually high amount to charity or somesuch), so for most people it doesn't matter whether they keep track of their donations or not.  Itemizing tends to make sense more for people with higher incomes than for people with lower.

CakeEater

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Re: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site
« Reply #52 on: January 05, 2013, 06:59:17 AM »
Donations are tax-deductible. If someone wants to give me hundreds of dollars off  my taxes for the low price of dropping items off at the Salvation Army, I'm not gonna argue! Heck, I've rescued nice stuff from the curb just because I knew it had a good donation value! Just food for thought.

Just curious - how does that work? What do you get a receipt for? I don't think that's possible here. (Australia)

In the US, when you donate items to charity you get a receipt where you can declare the value of the items (although nobody really checks, so people make up values all the time).  Then when you pay your taxes, you can choose whether to take the "standard deduction" (around $10,000, but varies depending on your family size and whether you're married or not) or to itemize your tax deductions.  If you itemize, you add up things like charitable giving, mortgage interest payments, medical bills over a certain amount, etc.  Then you end up subtracting your deduction (the standard deduction or the total of your itemized deductions) from your gross income, and you only pay taxes on the net.

Even though you hear about getting a tax write-off pretty frequently, the standard deduction is more than most people would get itemizing (unless they donate an unusually high amount to charity or somesuch), so for most people it doesn't matter whether they keep track of their donations or not.  Itemizing tends to make sense more for people with higher incomes than for people with lower.

Ah, that's interesting. You can get a tax deduction here in the same way (I think!) for monetary donations, but not for used items, as far as I know.

gen xer

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Re: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site
« Reply #53 on: January 05, 2013, 11:12:47 AM »

I've found that people tend to vastly overestimate the value (monetary or otherwise) of their own cast-off belongings.

You can see this when people sell stuff - people will post used furniture or out-of-warranty electronics for 1/2 or more of the original purchase value, and then be puzzled why no-one is buying. They don't realize that yes, it was a very nice couch when you bought it, but it's used now - people are buying it with no return policy, and with the risk that there might be something wrong with it. If you're trying to sell it for more than about 20% of it's original purchase price, people are not going to pay attention.

Then there's the problem of the 'almost useful' stuff. The shirt that will be great once you soak the stain out and sew on some buttons. The lamp that just needs a bit of electrical work. And so on. When it comes to giving stuff to thrift shops or charity a good rule of thumb is that if it's broken or dirty, or is not currently usable for it's intended purpose, don't give it away. They're not going to use it - all you're doing is making someone else sort through it and dispose of it.

That's what frosts my cornflakes so badly - having to dispose of it for someone else who uses false generosity to relieve themselves of a big burden.  I have to say it's smart and it works - since we have been programmed to never waste, always be grateful ( what do you mean you don't want that shirt with the yellow armpit stains?  It just needs some TLC!  You are so wasteful!!!  That was an expensive shirt back in 1978!! ) that we paste on a smile, say thanks SO MUCH!!!! and then have to take time, effort and money to get rid of it.  After all charities don't want junk so it ends up at the dump where you have to pay.

But after reading so many responses I will no longer feel bad about saying no and staying firm in my resolve.  And DH and I will have pistols at dawn if he tries to railroad me into accepting more useless stuff.

TootsNYC

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Re: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site
« Reply #54 on: January 05, 2013, 12:16:34 PM »
to the OP: a possible tactic with your DH:

Walk him through the logistics of each of the last 12 items given. Including all the "costs" hidden in it.
   -do you need it, honestly?
   -did the giver ever receive from you any indication that YOU thought such an item was something you needed or wanted?
   -ask him to answer in one clear sentence, "why did they give this away?" and don't accept any answer that isn't "they wanted to get rid of it."
   -point out in clear, educational detail all the drawbacks to the stuff--the cushions on the chair are misshapen, the
   -where will you put it?
   -how much time will you spend moving it around? storing it? And how does that compare w/ how much time you will use it?

Then when the next item arrives, say, "Oh, you want to get rid of that?" immediately. To clarify and state to everyone in the room what the MAIN goal is.
   Then say, "Oh, look, it's broken/well, it's 30 years old/I think that's better given to a charity shop where someone who really wants it can find it, because we don't really want it."

And say, "We just don't have room."

perpetua

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Re: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site
« Reply #55 on: January 06, 2013, 12:26:15 PM »
I do think that sometimes this can be generational, or a symptom of changing times.

Take my father, for example. He's in his 80s, and at the stage where he wants to start clearing stuff out. In his day, if you wanted to rid yourself of something, you put an advert in the classifieds of the local newspaper, or a card in the local newsagents' window for a weekly fee, and you advertised your goods for sale, and someone would phone to enquire then come round and buy them. People don't do this so much nowadays - but that's the only way Dad knows how to get rid of things.

Selling them via the internet just isn't practical as I live hours from him, and he doesn't have internet access and doesn't understand the internet - he's never even used a computer. He has a flat full of stuff and no idea how to get rid of it. So at every opportunity, he tries to palm things off on me. It's part generosity - he genuinely does think I'll be able to make use of this stuff or sell it myself - and part 'not knowing what else to do with it/not having the means to do anything else with it'.

SPuck

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Re: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site
« Reply #56 on: January 06, 2013, 12:58:11 PM »
My grandfather was like this with sweaters. He at 5'2 always tried to foist his vast selection of sweaters onto my 6 feet tall brothers. It was an easy excuse not to accept anything because nothing ever fit, but that didn't stop him from having one of them go through his closet when we visited his house.  :P

Lynn2000

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Re: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site
« Reply #57 on: January 06, 2013, 01:00:30 PM »
Yes, "how to get rid of things" is an interesting problem. Sometimes my mom complains about how hard it is to get rid of things (physically--she wants to get rid of them) and I'm like, "I don't get it. Just throw it in the trash." Of course, I have a big dumpster outside my apartment building that I walk by on my way to work every day, and recycling bins in the same place. My mom lives out in the country, with no trash pick-up. Where does the full bag of trash go when it leaves the kitchen? Usually out to their garage. If the weather's not windy and wet, she can burn food and paper trash (which isn't that great, but that's what they do); but non-burnable things, plus recycling, just piles up until she prods my dad enough to take a trunk load of it somewhere--a friendly neighbor with a dumpster or the recycling center in another town, say.

And that's just normal trash. She knows of donation places for clothes, but they're two towns away so she has to collect stuff and plan out when she's going. (And there's always the threat of my dad, the hoarder, going through the pile and taking things back, even if they aren't his!) She has a computer and uses the Internet, but isn't fluent at it by any means; I can't picture her ever selling anything on eBay to get rid of it, or even knowing what Craigslist or Freecycle are (if they're even available in her town). Now granted, I've not used them personally either, but I feel like I could if I needed to, and that I could successfully search the Internet for places to dispose of other things, like electronics or furniture. I think the logistics just seem overwhelming to her--getting someone to come out to her house in the country with a large vehicle and people who can move a piece of furniture and take it away for her, for example. (And that's after convincing my dad to get rid of the furniture in the first place.)

Now I have to say, this doesn't mean my mom passes stuff on to me, which I appreciate. But for someone else, it easily could--"Oh, Sally can get rid of stuff much more easily than I can!" You know, you do a favor for them once, and after that they just keep bringing you stuff to dispose of, without even asking you first. Which is still rude, even if they aren't operating under the pretense that they're giving you a gift.
~Lynn2000