Tuesday, December 16, 2008

How to Save Your Safe Deposit Box From All the People Trying to Steal It

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics: , ,

comic 68 - safe deposit box

I don’t want to alarm anybody, but at this very moment, someone is trying to steal your money.

Let that statement soak in for a minute. Are you alarmed? You should be, even though I told you not to be. Now I bet you’re wondering what has transpired to cause me to issue such an alarming statement. Well, for starters, I had to write about something, and publishing alarming statements is a great way to get people’s attention. For instance: squirrels cause cancer if they get within 100 feet of you. See what I mean? I bet you’re checking the latest rodentia medical journals right now to verify my claim. Well, I’ll save you the trouble—squirrels do not cause cancer. At least I don’t think they do. Just to be safe, you should probably carry a gun with you all the time and shoot all the squirrels you see.

What was I talking about? Oh yes, everyone is trying to steal your money. And by everyone, I mean the following:

  • The Federal government
  • Your state and local governments
  • Your school or alma mater’s student government
  • Auto manufacturers
  • The banking industry
  • OPEC
  • The United Nations
  • The Washington Nationals
  • The International House of Pancakes

Okay, so I may have embellished that list a little bit. But since I won’t tell you how I embellished it, you’re just going to have to believe me out of fear for now.

One notable entity on that list of groups stealing your money is the banking industry. You might be thinking, “Why would the banks try to steal my money when I’m just as happy to give it to them?” And if you’re not thinking that, then consider all the different ways you give money to the bank during your lifetime:

  • Savings accounts and CDs
  • Checking accounts
  • Mortgage payments
  • Credit card payments
  • School loan payments
  • ATM fees
  • Safety deposit boxes

Of course, for most of those times you give your money to the bank, you expect to get something in return—possibly interest payments to you for your savings, or the right to continue living in your house for your mortgage payment. At the very least, you don’t expect a bank will just up and walk away with your hard-earned money. Even if you just stash tens of thousands of dollars into a safety deposit box, that money should still be there years down the road.

Unfortunately that’s not always how it works, as this story of auctioned-off safety deposit boxes reveals. Apparently these boxes aren’t always as “safe” as their name implies. The article describes how banks, believing some safety deposit boxes to be abandoned, turned over the contents to the state government which promptly proceeds to auction off the contents. In some cases, priceless family heirlooms have been sold at auction without the knowledge of the original owner.

This wouldn’t be so bad if the deposit boxes were genuinely abandoned, i.e. the owners had moved away without providing a new address. But in some instances, “abandoned” has simply meant that the owners of the boxes hadn’t visited the box in a few years. Sometimes the owners of the boxes still had active savings or checking accounts at the same bank! According to the article, while states require that banks attempt to contact the owners before drilling the box contents open for sale at auction, there is no law regulating how hard banks must try to contact the owners of “abandoned” safety deposit boxes, nor is there any punishment for not trying.

Now the article goes on to describe a few common sense ways to protect your safety deposit box such as ensuring your contact information is up to date and visiting the box once a year to check the contents. But that’s not going to do anything to stop banks from getting bored one day and deciding to auction off all the safety deposit boxes that are prime numbers. To do that, you’ll need to take serious preventative measures to protect your safety deposit box.

No, this doesn’t mean to set an explosive trap in your box that goes off when it’s opened. After all, how would you get into the box yourself? That, and we’re trying not to kill anyone here. Fortunately the geniuses over at the FatWallet forums have devised the perfect plan to protect your precious possessions from pesky pilferers—simply add a bag of cocaine to your safety deposit box.

You’re probably wondering how this works to stop your safety deposit box from being auctioned away. Well, it’s quite simple:

  1. Bank drills open “abandoned” safety deposit box.
  2. Bank finds cocaine.
  3. Bank calls police.
  4. Police find you in about 30 seconds, because they actually try.
  5. You, the true owner of the safety deposit box, are successfully located.

Of course, step six of that sequence would be “you go to jail for possession of an illegal substance,” so one way around that would be to substitute a bag of baking powder or sugar labeled as your favorite powdery white narcotic. That said, some places will throw you in jail anyway for wasting their time, but at least your collection of ceramic roosters won’t be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

Your best bet, then, might be to label that fake bag of drugs as “definitely not drugs.” This way, the police will get called in anyway, but you can simply tell them later “the bag said it wasn’t drugs!” You still may go to jail, but it would be under the dumbest charge ever—something like “possession of a not illegal substance.”

Hmm… I suppose this whole idea goes out the window if the bank personnel drilling your safety deposit box open decide to steal your drugs. But imagine the look on their faces when they try to use the stuff only to find out it’s cooking flour! That’ll teach ’em to steal from you.

So in summary, drugs are bad, and stealing is bad, but one bad thing can be used to stop another bad thing from happening, and it might be okay.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

12 Guilt-Free Things You Should Be Stealing From Work

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics: ,

comic 67 - confession

Let me preface this by saying that I do not in any way condone stealing things that don’t belong to you. I do, however, thoroughly condone stretching the definition of “belonging to you” to include some things which don’t really belong to anyone, like love and air, but not things like national monuments (I’m talking to you, Carmen Sandiego).

There’s always a bit of a gray area when it comes to taking things that are “free.” Yes, those apartment guides in the grocery store say they’re free, but does that mean you should take all 47 of them? On the one hand, it would be kinda funny to do it, and you’d have a little less competition for apartments which might impact rental prices in the long run. On the other hand, don’t be a dumbass; just take five or six copies like everyone else.

There’s probably no grayer area in the “free stuff” world than in the workplace. After all, there’s just tons of stuff lying around, begging to be absconded with. And if you’re like me and you work for a large, faceless multinational corporation, none of that stuff really belongs to anybody per se. In fact, if you own stock in your own company, then technically some of those computers and light fixtures and floor tiles belong to you. And who would blame you for taking your fair share?

Well, apparently a lot of people would because stealing things from work is generally considered to be illegal. If you try to walk out the front door with a dozen desktop computers under your arms… your grotesque, inhumanly powerful arms… you’re probably going to get stopped by security. At the very least, when someone notices they’re gone, you’ll probably show up on no less than 28 surveillance cameras walking out with the stolen goods.

That said, there really are some workplace items you shouldn’t feel bad about walking away with on occasion either because they’re worth so little or because everyone else does it. Here’s a list of some of those things you practically have a duty to gank from your job.

  1. Electricity. Are you still charging your cell phone at home like a stupid hobo? (No offense, hobos.) If so, and you use your phone to make even one work-related call a year, you should be charging it at your desk instead. In fact, I don’t think anyone will blame you if you just ran an extension cord a few miles down the road to your residence since you wouldn’t have all these electrical gadgets to begin with if your job didn’t pay you the money you used to buy them!
  2. Water. If your workplace has free exercise facilities, chances are it also has showers. Even if exercising isn’t your cup of tea, you can still take advantage of workplace shower facilities to cut down on hot water consumption at home.
  3. Housing. Still renting or paying a mortgage like a stupid hobo? (Really, I don’t mean to offend you hobos.) Why do that when you’ve got a perfectly good office or cubicle that just sits unoccupied each night while you’re at home in your so-called “comfy bed.”
  4. Internet. Let me be totally clear here: internet surfing during work is a big no-no; internet browsing at work after hours might not be so bad. Now if you’re gonna be looking at the pornographies, do yourself a favor and use someone else’s computer in case your network admin logs that kind of stuff. Just be sure to clean up after you’re done. Clean up your browsing activity, that is. Ew.
  5. Disk space. While we’re talking computers, I bet your work computer has gobs of unused disk space on it. After all, how much space can a few dozen spreadsheets take up? Assuming it’s not against company policy, you could use some of that extra space to backup your important personal files. It’s cheaper than using a commercial backup solution. But again, keep your dirty pictures somewhere else… like at my house.
  6. Desk candy. Some of your co-workers may be nice enough to leave small dishes of candy on their desks for people who walk by to take a piece. If your company has you working until 9pm without giving you a break for dinner, those candies can serve as a handy substitute for real nutrition.
  7. Storage. This doesn’t apply to those of you who actually use your office or cubicle’s space for storing work items. But I know plenty of you administrative types have nothing but empty lockable drawers that you like to pretend are full of important papers. Why not use some of that space to store books, old clothes, and other stuff you don’t want cluttering up your house? (Not that you even need a house if your office is that spacious…)
  8. Scrap paper. If you have young, artistic kids, you probably have to buy them a ream or two of copy paper every other week to satisfy their scribbling habits. (You know: draw draw draw, throw paper away. Draw draw, erase, rip up paper.) Stop wasting perfectly good new paper on them and just bring home whatever you can fish out of the workplace recycling bins. Just be careful what scrap paper you decide to give to your kids as you wouldn’t want them showing off their doodles to classmates drawn on the other side of top secret engineering schematics.
  9. Toilet paper. In general, you should be doing about 75% of your toileting at work anyway. You’ll find that doing so will really cut down on your household’s TP consumption. I’m pretty religious about my workplace potty break; stop by stall #2 on the third floor around 12:15 some day and say hi!
  10. Old magazines. Sure, they’re a little used and out-of-date, but those three-week-old magazines sitting in your office building’s lobby or waiting room would just get thrown away eventually anyway. Take them home instead and catch up on world events with such first-class publications as Time, Newsweek, and Soap Opera Digest.
  11. Expired holiday decorations. Does your workplace decorate for the holidays? And if so, does it throw out those decorations every year? A quick trip to the dumpster on December 26th could save you a boatload on Christmas decorations next year. Heck, stop by work early on December 25th and pick them up before someone else gets the same idea!
  12. Landscape. You may not realize it, but that finely groomed campus landscaping you see outside your window at work probably costs more money each month than you make in a year. I think that entitles you to make off with some posies and maybe a few small bushes.

What, were you expecting me to say that it’s okay to walk out with reams of stationery and a truckload of LCD monitors? Sorry to disappoint you, but I bet you’ll still save a lot of money if you pilfer these items. Plus you probably won’t go to jail… unless you’ve got one of those psychotic bosses who constantly inventories the toilet paper in the restroom and chastises everyone for using too much. And if you have one of those bosses, you may want to quit and find a better job.

Oh, and don’t forget to steal everything that isn’t nailed down on your way out.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

How Krispy Kreme and Starbucks Gave Obama The Election (With Bonus Freebie Quest!)

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics: ,

comic 66 - ballot questions

Bear with me for a second while I spout some nonsensical conspiracy theories.

As most of you already knew from reading so-called “reputable news sites,” Starbucks, Krispy Kreme, and various other retailers gave away freebies on Election Day to people bearing “I Voted” stickers. You might think such a move is a generous or perhaps foolish offer on the part of these companies, but in reality they’ll more than make up the loss from people who show up only for the freebie but end up purchasing something to go with it. However, these companies may have a more sinister agenda hidden deep in these promotions.

Think about it for a second. Who is most likely to take up Starbucks on the offer of a free cup of coffee? Rich people making more than $250,000 a year? No! It’s us retarded members of the lower and middle class who think that a $1.50 cup of coffee or an 89-cent doughnut is worth waiting in line for 20 minutes to get for free. And despite the fact that voting should be our proud patriotic duty, I’m sure there are a good number of folks who had no intention of voting until all of these freebie offers started popping up in the last week. Thus, thanks to companies like Starbucks and Krispy Kreme, there are more members of non-wealthy classes voting this election.

And while I won’t say something as scandalous as “Poorer, freebie-snatching people will tend to vote for Barack Obama,” I will say that there’s a small possibility that these promotions helped shape the course of history this election. At the very least, they helped make Election Day a little tastier.

I will gladly admit to partaking in as many Election Day freebies as was geographically possible, including stops to more than one Starbucks (even though I rarely drink coffee), and trips to Krispy Kreme, Ben & Jerry’s, and Chick-Fil-A. In the end, I spent over 2 hours driving and in line and used a gallon of $2.50 gasoline to net about $5 worth of free food and beverage. It was a horrible time investment unless you consider that I feel it’s my patriotic duty to screw big businesses out of profits however possible. After all, it’s the American way, or something.

Not satisfied with my haul of two coffees, a cup of ice cream, a doughnut, and a chicken sandwich, I decided to see if any other businesses not actively advertising Election Day giveaways would nonetheless give me something for free. Thus, I spent an extra two hours on Election Day visiting various shops, going up to the front counter and simply saying, “I voted. Will you give me something for free?” Proudly displaying my “I Voted! Yo Voté!” sticker, here’s what happened at the 20 places I visited on Election Day requesting unadvertised freebies.

  • The employees at Bloom, a local supermarket chain, looked at me a little funny, suggested I go to the Starbucks down the street or down Aisle 1 for a free sample of cheese, but didn’t give me anything else.
  • The Fantastic Sams hair salon just said they didn’t have any Election Day offers. They also pointed out that I don’t have enough hair to warrant a hair cut anyway.
  • Aardvark Swim and Sport didn’t offer any freebies, but there was a hot lady there about to try on a swimsuit. I considered hanging around to help her decide if it was right for her, but I wouldn’t let myself be distracted from my mission!
  • Dunkin Donuts didn’t match Starbuck’s free coffee offer or Krispy Kreme’s free doughnut offer. It was pretty busy at the time, so I left without much fuss.
  • Blockbuster Video gave me a coupon for a free rental! I was the only person at the checkout counter at the time, and the cashier slipped it to me quietly, probably so that I would just go away. Too bad I don’t have a Blockbuster membership. I gave the coupon to my co-worker so he can rent all his favorite Hannah Montana episodes.
  • Classic Beer & Wine gave me nothing. I was really sad. I bought a beer and drank it in the parking lot as I cried.
  • And to local readers who recognize what shopping center I was in up to this point, yes, I hit the Forbidden Fruit adult goods shop. I’m sort of glad they turned down my request for freebies.
  • Down the road a bit, those crazy folks at FedEx/Kinko’s offered me a free color photocopy! I asked if I could photocopy the doughnut I had just gotten from Krispy Kreme. They said no. P.S. The girl behind the counter was really hot.
  • GameStop countered my request for a freebie with an offer to reserve the latest Guitar Hero title for just five dollars down. I countered with playing their Nintendo Wii demo station for free for ten minutes.
  • Panera Bread pointed me to some free samples they normally offer. I asked for an entire loaf of bread for free. The cashier joked that even Obama and McCain wouldn’t get a freebie like that. I replied, “Oh, so Panera Bread supports third-party candidates. Good for you!” and left.
  • Palm Beach Tan gave me nothing and tried to sell me a $300 tanning package. I jokingly replied, “What, I’m not dark-skinned enough for you?” The black saleslady didn’t really like that comment.
  • Wing Stop gave me one free French fry. “Times are tough,” the chef commented. I thanked him kindly.
  • The hostess at Cheeburger Cheeburger offered to buy me a free ice cream soda if I could name all five members of the Rockville City Council but said I’d have to buy her one if I was wrong. Apparently “John Britton, those three old ladies, and the crazy guy with the funny name” wasn’t good enough for her. I didn’t feel bad because three other people in line behind me couldn’t name them either.
  • Chipotle, which is usually pretty good about giving free stuff away once in a while, gave me nothing. I suspect things would have been a little different if this were the Mexican presidential election…
  • Long & Foster offered to provide me with a free market competitiveness thingy that included an approximate idea of the value of my home. Not wanting to know exactly how much value my house has lost since I bought it in 2006, I said thanks but no thanks.
  • Krispy Kreme reminded me that I had just gotten a free doughnut from them 10 minutes earlier. I asked if I could get another free doughnut if I voted again. They said no.
  • TownHouse Furniture indicated that they didn’t sell anything worth less than $50 in the whole store, but they said they’d throw in a free cup of coffee if I bought a thousand-dollar couch. I declined their offer.
  • Art and Framing Depot offered 15% off a custom framing job! I asked if they had a frame small enough for my “I Voted!” sticker. They said yes but added that it would be a special offer and quoted me $72 for it. I passed.
  • While I was hoping Bank of America would slip me a few Benjamins, they instead offered to set me up with a “free checking account.” When I said that I already had one, they pointed me to a dish of candy. I took eight pieces and left.
  • And finally, the employee cafeteria where I work offered me nothing. The chef said he hoped I voted for Obama.

Please note that I didn’t expect that any of these places would actually give me freebies since they didn’t advertise any, so the fact that most of them refused is perfectly within their rights—and it’s probably for the best as giving one person something for free would have meant having to give something for free at least to everyone else in the store at the time. In fact, those few places that actually did give me something for free, while they could be commended for their excellent customer service, probably shouldn’t have.

So my thanks go to Starbucks, Krispy Kreme, Ben & Jerry’s, Chik-Fil-A, and the rest for helping me fill my belly on Election Day. And congratulations to Barack Obama for actually wanting to clean up the horrendous mess made by the current administration; you’re a much braver man than I.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Forgot The Candy? Here Are Some Do-It-Yourself Goodies for Trick-or-Treaters

Author: Nick
Category: Money

comic 65 - trick or treat

If you’re like me, you have mixed feelings about Halloween. On the one hand, it’s a fun little holiday where you can dress up your kids in all the different outfits of occupations you wanted to be when you grew up like doctor, call girl, and werewolf. You also get to let your kids run around the neighborhood dodging traffic for a couple of hours while you do more important things, like dress up in a sexy costume and get ignored by your spouse.

Of course, there are drawbacks to Halloween. First, it’s expected that you’ll give away candy to other people’s children. You don’t even like giving candy to your own children! And then sometimes you get those teenagers who are way too old for Halloween and think they’re entitled to candy just because they poured some fake blood on their t-shirts. (At least you hope it’s fake blood.)

Now you could try hiding in your basement or pretending you’re not home—or actually not be home—but then you risk having your property egged and toilet papered and painted pink (I’m trying to start a national trend with that last one). And what happens if you only purchase enough candy for 30 kids and 60 show up? Or worse—you forgot all about Halloween together, and the only candy the store had left was off-brand stuff like Horshey’s Malk Choco-like Substitute and packages of Ms—just Ms; the M&Ms are long gone.

Fear not, boils and ghouls! Having either forgotten the candy or had my wife eat it all three days before Halloween for years, I know exactly what it’s like to be short on Halloween treats. That’s why I’ve come up with a series of do-it-yourself goodies you can assemble from things at home to help stave off the eggers and TP-ers. Read on for a frightfully brilliant list of ghetto ways to get yourself through another Halloween trick-or-treat when the candy runs dry.

  • Money always works. Of course, this is probably going to cost you a bit more than candy would as giving anything less than a dollar is going to get your house covered in more unborn baby chickens than not giving anything at all.
  • Nothing says Halloween quite like thick, juicy steaks. I know that if I were a kid, I’d be thrilled to have a nice Porterhouse dropped in my treat bag.
  • You’ve been meaning to donate those old books to charity. Just give them away on Halloween night and use them to educate the future generation in how to be just as lame as you!
  • Kids don’t get enough veggies in their diet. Whip out a bag of frozen peas from the freezer and start pelting those kids until they run away crying.
  • You know all those action figures you have sitting in a box in your attic? I’m sure kids today would still appreciate G.I. Joes and Barbies, even if they are missing a few limbs. And if they are, paint on a bit of fake blood to really freak them out.
  • Is your wife hot? If she just happens to “accidentally” answer the door naked, I think that counts as a treat.
  • Studies show that kids as young as five are now sexually active! Do your part to fight teenage pregnancy and STDs by handing out condoms instead of candy this Halloween.
  • One in ten houses still has candy left over from last Halloween. One in two kids can’t tell the difference!
  • At the same time, Playboy magazines never get stale.
  • If you still have last Sunday’s newspaper, you could clip out coupons for 35 cents off two bags of $6.00 candy to give away.
  • Bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon! Or does that only work on dogs?
  • Confuse the kids by giving out Valentine’s Day cards instead of candy and insisting it’s already February.
  • If you’re desperate, you can break into your own kid’s room and start giving away his or her collection of Pokémon cards. Your kid will hate you forever, but they’d start doing that eventually anyway!
  • And if you’re really desperate and have nothing left to give away, you can start taxing candy from the kids who have a lot and giving it to everyone else. I mean, if it works for the government…

Everyone have a happy and safe Halloween! And all you pretty ladies out there be sure to stop by my house if you want an extra-special treat. Heh heh.

I’m making s’mores.

Hey, get your heads out of the gutter!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Charitable Giving At Work May Rob Your Charities

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics: ,

comic 64 - charity

You may be an employee of one of the thousands of companies throughout the United States which organizes workplace charitable giving campaigns—company-sponsored fund drives designed to encourage employees to donate their own money to various worthwhile charities. These campaigns come in many varieties, including charity-specific efforts (where all donations go to one charity, such as the United Way) as well as so-called “charity of your choosing” campaigns where employees can choose from many listed charities or write in their own.

For businesses, the purpose of these campaigns is two-fold. First and foremost, it allows a business to demonstrate its genuinely philanthropic side. Second, it gets them some good press. If your business can brag that its employees donated millions of dollars of their own money to charities last year, you’re going to score some free publicity one way or another. At the very least, you’ll get people to forget for 30 seconds that your company makes death-bringer missiles or cons people into buying houses they can’t afford.

For employees—those who do the actual giving—as well as those on the receiving end of contributions, workplace giving campaigns bring two benefits. One, they actively encourage and remind employees to give a little bit back to their communities. Two, some employers will provide matching funds for their workers’ charitable contributions during annual campaigns. A few employers will even match every employee charitable dollar with two more dollars! Wow! And even if they don’t match your funds, most employers will cover the administrative costs of running the charity drive. Giving through your workplace must always be a no-brainer decision then, right?

Well, not quite.

You see, there’s something your boss won’t necessarily tell you about your company’s annual charity campaign. While your company will always loudly and proudly trumpet the facts that they either provide matching funds or cover the costs of running the fundraiser, some companies neither match donations nor cover the administrative costs. But since those operating the charity campaign (either employees at the company or, more and more often these days, an outside vendor) have to get paid, and it costs a good bit of money just to make everyone in your company aware of the campaign, there are always administrative costs. And if the company isn’t paying those costs, who is? That’s right… you and your charities.

I was startled to learn this year that my own employer is no longer covering the administrative costs of its annual “charity of your choosing” campaign. This wouldn’t necessarily be so bad if they provided matching funds, but they’ve never done that. In past years, all materials advertising the campaign were sure to note that the “company covers all costs of running the campaign.” When I didn’t see that writing on their campaign literature this year, I had to poke a little harder to find a new statement in its place: “95% of your contributions go straight to the charity of your choice.”

“Whoa whoa whoa,” I said out loud in my office. I was shocked to learn that the company would be quietly shaving off almost 5% off every charitable dollar that passes through its campaign in order to cover the costs of its materials as well as paying the third party charity payment processor, America’s Charities.

This was the first year I decided not to participate in my employer’s charity campaign. Instead, I just went to my favorite charity’s website, found their mailing address, and sent them a check. Bam. The charity gets 100% of its money, I feel 100% better about myself, and my company sends me 83 reminder e-mails urging me to donate through them.

While I find it reprehensible that a company would skim from charitable donations to pay its own costs, I will admit that charities still stand to benefit more than they would without these campaigns. Because many people will only give if prompted to by their employers’ annual charity drives, the charities will get more money than if those employees didn’t donate at all. Indeed, 95% is still much greater than 0%. That said, I hope that anyone who bothered to read through the fine print of the campaign saw the 95% warning and decided to send their donation straight to their charity instead.

If you want to make sure your workplace charitable contributions are helping the people who need it most, follow these simple steps:

  1. Research your charity first. Just because your company offers a list of thousands of “worthy” charities doesn’t mean those charities all make the best use of your money. Use the Charity Navigator website to determine just how much of your charity’s money is put to use directly helping others. Or just donate to my favorite charity, The Save the Idiot Personal Finance Writer His Own Sense of Self-Righteousness Fund.
  2. Check for company matching funds. If your company will match your donations to a charity of interest to you given through their campaign, you should pump as much money as you can spare through your employer. This way, you’re helping your charity even more than you could just by yourself.
  3. Find out who pays the fees. Even without matching funds, a company that sends 100% of its fund drive donations straight to the charities is still worthy of recognition. In this case, whether you give through the company or not is your choice; it may just be easier to do it through your employer as it may offer features such as payroll deductions to spread your donation pledge throughout the year.
  4. Whatever you do, just give. If your company is like mine and takes even a dime of that charity money for its own costs, just write a check and send it straight to your charity instead. (Try not to pay by credit card, as up to 2% of your donation may end up going to the card processing company instead.) They’ll get the full benefit, and you’ll be telling your company that you won’t stand for its dipping into donations to cover administrative costs.

And of course, don’t forget to take the tax deduction to which you’re entitled for eligible charitable donations; there’s no point in giving the government a free donation too when it already funds itself quite well out of your paycheck each week.