Monday, March 19, 2012

Check? No Thanks.

Remember how charities used to send you a nickel or a dime and expect you to be so overwhelmed with gratitude/guilt that you sent them a bunch of money? Today we got a check for $2.00 in the mail from the Christian Appalachian Project. There are no strings attached, unlike say, a check from a credit card company that automatically enrolls you in some overpriced identity protection plan. The enclosed letter says they did it just to get my attention, and I guess they succeeded.

Now let's look at my options:
  • Of course I could send money to the charity, but that's not going to happen. My wife already wants to support every animal charity on the planet not to mention every sad case of kids with cancer or cleft palates (I'd send Smile Train twice as much if they'd promise not to send me any more photographs). We're already spread so thin that I question the value of sending $25 to each considering that they will spend $20 trying to convince me to send them more. It would make more sense to send $100 checks to fewer charities instead. Anyway, I guess the point is that although the Christian Appalachian Project got my attention with their gimmick, they won't get any money from me (regardless of whether they are a worthy charity, which I can't judge and won't bother to research).
  • I could deposit the check, but -- aside from the obvious guilt factor of taking money from a charity -- making a deposit is a pain in the ass because none of the ATMs around here will accept a deposit for my credit union. I could deposit it online by scanning it, but the credit union's software doesn't run on Windows 7. That means I'd have to disconnect my desktop computer from the Internet and the scanner, boot up my Windows XP laptop (with the added hassle of having to set the date and time because it resets to 1/1/1980 when it's unplugged), connect the Internet and scanner cables to the laptop, scan my check, and finally reconnect the cables to my desktop. Damn, that isn't worth two bucks!
  • But if I don't cash it, it's like leaving money on the table. What about this: can I take a $2 tax deduction for not cashing the check, treating it as if I had given $2 to the charity? Isn't not taking it the same as giving it? Seems fair to me, but I'm sure the IRS would disagree.
It would have been so much simpler to just slide a nickel into my pocket.

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