Save More Money With Tax Credits

COVID-19 relief payments aren’t taxable, since they are essentially tax credits that the IRS awarded early. But there are other tax credits that can help  lower your tax liability, the College Investor says. For example, you can claim up to $2,000 for adult educational expenses under the Lifelong Learning Credit, or use the American Opportunity Tax Credit to reduce liability as an undergraduate. And if you are a working parent of modest means, you may qualify for an Earned Income Tax credit of up to $6,660. #LastMinuteTaxTips

Start Sprouting a Spring Victory Garden

An uptick in vegetable gardening that occurred last year as COVID-19 lockdowns went into effect seems set to repeat this year. Now’s the time to start the seeds of a pandemic victory garden, since germinating plants hardy enough to transplant can take six to eight weeks. Gardeners will be rewarded with fresh food and a new sense of security, Rose Hayden-Smith, food historian and author of Sowing the Seeds of Victory, told HuffPost: “It’s helpful to be productive and connect with nature, and it’s something that’s within our control in a situation that feels entirely out of control.”

Keeping the Spring Travel Bug at Bay

It has now been a full year since #lockdowns against the novel #coronavirus went into effect worldwide, shutting down in-person gatherings such as concerts, conventions, school and sporting events. People canceled their trips due to travel restrictions, and most haven’t boarded a plane since.

A year later, the prospect of taking a pleasure trip has improved. With three COVID-19 vaccines being administered nationwide, many of the most vulnerable segments of the population are starting to get some protection against the disease. But we’re not out of the woods yet, and you may still want to hold off on planning that jaunt.

Spring fever, of course, is an affliction that worsens with the rising temperatures. You probably want to go out and do something — anything — that involves fresh air, sun, scenery and social interactions. For the next few months, however, the safest bet is to get creative while breaking the routine.

One safe way to shake up the routine is to take a “staycation,” Everyday Health says. Just set aside time to create your own spa experience, meditate or explore parts of your own hometown on foot. You can also try bring one of your dream destinations home for a night; if you can’t go to Italy, for example, make some fresh pasta and cue up a Fellini film.

If you absolutely must get out of town to preserve your sanity, consider taking a camping trip with the people in your family or “pod,” says the Washington Post. If you observe masking and social distancing rules with anyone unfamiliar, camping is one of the safest ways to enjoy the outdoors while avoiding the spread of the virus.

One thing the Organizing Blog advises doing in the spring is a thorough #cleaning and #decluttering. Throw open the windows and enjoy the fresh air as you scour; once you sort out extra stuff you don’t need and #donate it to ClothingDonations.org, your home will be much more livable.

One more way to keep the travel bug at bay is to plan your dream trip(s) for the future. Experts say that domestic travel could return to normal once most people are vaccinated, and that is currently targeted to happen by the start of summer. International travel may have to wait a while longer, depending on the destination.

When you decide to travel again, you’ll have that much more pent-up anticipation for your trip — and maybe enjoy it more thoroughly as a result. But wherever you go, stay safe: Wear a mask, wash your hands and observe social distancing. Travel is fantastic food for the soul, but you don’t want to gamble with your health.

Donation Pickups Continue

ClothingDonations.org had to temporarily suspend #donation #pickups early in the #pandemic, but we’re back and better than ever! You can still donate your extra clothing, baby items, small appliances, kitchenware, furniture and electronics from the comfort and safety of your home. Just schedule a contactless pickup online and place the boxed and bagged items in the designated location that morning. A masked driver will collect your extra stuff and leave a receipt for your records.

Wash Clothing Before Donating

The #coronavirus is thought to have a lifespan of less than one day on porous surfaces such as fabrics, according to epidemiologists. But if you wish to #donate lightly used clothing and are concerned that your items could be contaminated with #COVID-19, Best Life says you should wash them before #donating. Use regular detergent and the warmest washer and dryer settings you can safely use on the items, then bag them up and contact ClothingDonations.org for a free, contactless #donation pickup.