Here’s How You Should Use Your Tax Refund


It’s tax time! I know I’m probably one of the only people who gets excited about filing their taxes, but I can’t help it. I like to file as soon as I receive my W-2 (which your company is required to send to you by January 31st). It’s nice to know right away if I’m getting a refund and how much it will be. From there, I can start planning what I’m going to do with that money.

Don’t wait until April 14th to file your taxes. Give yourself plenty of time in order to avoid stress and plan ahead.

Wondering where to do your taxes? There are several free tax preparation programs, like Turbo Tax, H&R Block, and a brand new program from Credit Karma. Do you feel like you need help doing your taxes? If you make under $54,000 a year, you qualify for free tax preparation support.

Now, if you’re one of the lucky Americans who receives a tax return, you’re probably wondering what you should do with it.

1. Treat Yourself

It’s recommended that from any financial windfall, you should use 10% of it on yourself. It’s easier to use your money on responsible things if you’re also allowing yourself a treat. Just like it’s easier to eat healthy overall if you give yourself “cheat” days. So set 10% of that tax return aside and do something fun – buy yourself a gift, go out to eat, buy tickets to a concert… Just make sure you put the rest towards your financial goals.

2. Pay down debt

Do you have credit card, medical, or other debt? Throw your money at it!

You have a few options for how to do this:

  • If you have any bills that are in collections, pay them first. This way, the debt collectors will leave you alone, and your credit score can start to repair. Make sure you get confirmation in writing that you have paid off the items in collections. They like to keep harassing you – don’t make it easy for them. Get proof!
  • If you don’t have bills in collections, or you have money left over after paying them off, pay towards your credit card debt. You can either try to pay off your smallest balance first, or pay towards your highest interest card first. It’s really up to you and what might make you feel better.
  • If you have student loan debt, I wouldn’t recommend using your tax refund on that. Student debt is considered “good” debt, so you want to focus on “bad” debt (credit cards, medical debt, etc.) first.

3. Pad your savings

If you don’t have debt, or you want to use a portion of your tax return for savings, you can do that too! If you don’t already have an emergency savings account, this is a great time to start building one. This account can protect you in the event of a job loss, illness or injury, car repairs, etc. It can prevent you from going into debt in these scenarios, and will give you peace of mind. If you already have an emergency fund, you can put money aside to save for other goals. Perhaps you want to save for travel, or a downpayment on a house. Start now!

What will you do with your tax refund? Share with me on Twitter or below in the comments!

This post originally appeared on Maggie Germano Financial Coaching. Want to read more? Check out maggiegermano.com/blog

Purim Weekend

Purim is a time to CELEBRATE. Have a blast this weekend (March 10-12) and celebrate being Jewish.

Wednesday, March 8

Pre-Purim Happy Hour

What better way to get ready for Purim than to celebrate with rounds of Shushan Chardonnay, Vashti Vodka Sodas, and Purim Punch! Join young adults from around DC, as well as 2239, GatherDC, EntryPointDC of the Edlavitch DCJCC, YP@AI, Sixth & I, and The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, to throw a Pre-Purim Party you won’t forget!

Friday, March 10

Persian Style Shabbat

In the spirit of Purim, Moishe House is partnering with SHIN-DC for a Shabbat filled with Persian food, customs, and culture! This Shabbat is open for all Moishe House community members, members of SHIN-DC and anyone else who would like to partake in a special and meaningful Shabbat dinner.

Saturday, March 11

Purim Royale

Join Moishe Houses from around the DMV in celebration of a tale so grand. Put on your dazzling gowns and dapper suits, or dress in a memorable Purim costume.  Young adults from around the DMV gather for a soiree of charm and mystery you won’t forget!

The World Upside Down

Join Adas Israel for an off-the-wall Purim experience again this year. This year’s theme, The World Upside Down, is an ecstatic embrace of a core experience at the heart of Purim: the day simply confounds our grasp on reality!

Grogger and Glow

Experience a full megillah reading and an unconventional spiel, a satirical spin on the traditional Purim story. Then, enjoy hamentaschen, dancing, and plenty of libations at our blacklight after-party. Following the spiel, dance, play games, and get competitive on the beer pong court at our blacklight after-party. Rock your favorite Purim costume and make sure your outfit is ready to glow under the blacklights.

Sunday, March 12

Purim & Persian New Year

Purim & Persian New Year Party hosted by SHIN-DC & Tiffany Harris featuring DJ Fes Contemporary Persian and other Middle Eastern Music.

Super-Jewish Girl of the Week: Rachel Goldberg

What do you do?

I work for a Jewish non-profit that helps ensure Jews marry Jews so we can make Jewish babies and then they can marry Jews and keep this whole thing going!

Where are you from?

Long Island. The Jewish part.

What are some of your hobbies?

Going on Jswipe, going to synagogue, going on Jswipe at synagogue, and brunching with my friends from Brandeis.

What’s your favorite part about being Jewish?

The Torah. I’m in a book club where we read the Torah each week. You really only need one book. So many life lessons!

What’s your favorite food?

OK, so it’s like a sushi roll, except it’s called a Gefilte Roll. It’s gefilte fish wrapped in lox. And no rice, which is great because I’m actually carb-free right now. Yum!

Are all of your friends Jewish?

Define Jewish. No really, I’m so interested in hearing how you understand Judaism – it’s one of my favorite conversations.

Where’s your favorite place to travel?

Thailand.

Wait, really? I would have thought Israel.

When I’m in Israel I don’t feel like I’m traveling because it’s my homeland.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are not even those of the original author. They are totally made up – Happy Purim!

Rabbi Rave: Happy Hours

I love happy hours.

I know there are so many of them here in DC, but not enough, if you ask me.

Honestly, I wish every hour of the day was a happy hour. Think about how many people I could talk to about my job and where I’m from. And so many opportunities to lie about getting another drink or needing to go to the bathroom in order to get out of a conversation! If every hour was a happy hour, I’d probably be able to think up a third excuse.

One time I “went to the bathroom” to avoid someone at a happy hour, and another guy was in there… and he was doing the same thing! We really bonded about that. I didn’t catch his name but I’m sure I’ll see him again soon – probably at another happy hour.

Sometimes happy hours end super-early and I’m like “Um, it may be 7 pm, but I’m still happy, and no one can take that away from me.” Random bars shouldn’t be able to dictate when I’m happy – what a social construct, am I right?! But if I’m being honest, I’m actually not as happy when it’s not officially happy hour.

There really is no escaping it, happy hours are just the best part of my day. All day I’m at my desk thinking: “I can’t wait to order a Coors Light for only $4.” Sure, I could just go buy an 18-pack of Coors for $15 bucks, but can you enjoy that 18-pack with strangers? Definitely not – you’d have to invite friends over. And who has time for those, am I right?!

Now, l know sometimes girls can feel like happy hours are full of creepy guys asking them for their number. And it’s true, some guys are creepy. But I’m not. So please give me your number. Your real number.

I’ve heard people complain that the music at happy hours is too loud, or that the floors are sticky. Well let me tell you, as someone who spends a lot of time looking at the floor during happy hours – those floors are not that bad. And the music is so good, it’s like why wouldn’t you blast it! I know it’s not possible, but I always feel like they’re playing my favorite album. Which is Now That’s What I Call Music 23, by the way.

In summary, I love happy hours so much that I even typed up this piece while at a happy hour. It’s cool cuz it looks like I’m so important that I have to constantly be checking my phone – woah, if I get into a conversation tonight, there’s my third excuse to leave it!

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are not even those of the original author. They are totally made up – Happy Purim!

Jewish Generic DC Guy of the Week: Avi Shapiro-Weinstein

What do you do?

I love that question, and I ask it all the time. It’s such a great conversation starter – even with people I’ve known for a while. You can never hear too much about what someone does – it’s always interesting! Personally, I’m a lawyer, but I’m currently studying for my MBA.

Where are you from?

Wow, another one of my favorite questions! I’m from New Jersey, Exit 4.

What are some of your hobbies?

I work out pretty regularly and love watching sports. Also, Game of Thrones is so great. I could talk about that for hours, which I do, basically every day.

What’s your favorite part about being Jewish?

I went to summer camp and loved it, so I love getting together with Jews and talking about summer camp, even though that was when I was 12 years old and I’m currently 34.

How’s your dating life?

I’m not really looking for anything serious right now. I’m more into just hooking up with people and then ghosting them. I’ve been doing this for like 16 years now. But I’m definitely not scared of intimacy.

Do you have any values or care about anything meaningful?

I’ve been socialized to think that not caring about anything is cool, so… nah brah.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are not even those of the original author. They are totally made up – Happy Purim!

Become a Moishe House With Out Walls Host!

Do you love to host events with your friends and want money to do so? Moishe House Without Walls gives you the opportunity to create a Jewish community that is unique to who you are. Moishe House Without Walls expands on the mission of MoisheHouse by empowering non-residents with the financial and programmatic support they need to build the communities they envision. MHWOW provides the opportunity to create peer-led community programs that are unique to each and every host in our community. Whether that means hosting a Shabbat dinner for your friends twice a month, or building a sukkah and hosting a barbecue to celebrate the holiday, or even hosting a social event to bring your crowd together, MHWOW is an opportunity to build and explore what the idea of Jewish community means to you. Check out mhwow.org to learn more about Moishe HouseWithout Walls and apply to start hosting!
Check out a couple of our DC Hosts:
Former GatherDC Jewish Guy of the Year Kevin Lieberman recently moved to Ann Arbor, MI, to start graduate school. Prior, as an active MHWOW host in D.C., Kevin had helped create community for his peers in a city with four Moishe Houses in the greater metro area. Upon moving to a city without a Moishe House, Kevin was immediately able to transfer his skills to build community in Ann Arbor, leading ongoing activities and programs for other Jewish young adults, including a special weekend-long retreat for 21 Jewish graduate students.
Moishe House Columbia Heights resident Alyssa, 22, was living in Tucson, AZ, a community without a Moishe House, when she first attended a Passover Learning Retreat outside of Phoenix in February 2015.The Passover Learning Retreat inspired Alyssa to begin leading programming for her peers in Tucson, culminating in a weekend-long retreat in early 2016. Recently, Alyssa relocated to Washington, D.C., where she has taken her involvement to the next level, becoming a resident of one of the local Moishe Houses, and starting a job at Hillel as a Program/ Operations Associate.
This Wednesday, March 15th come sip and schmooze at the Moishe House Columbia Heights and learn more about becoming a Moishe House Without Walls Host! Both current and prospective hosts will be in attendance, as well as current MoisheHouse residents and alumni.
Feel free to RSVP on Facebook or join us at the Moishe House Columbia Heights on March 15th from 7:30PM-9:00PM

Moishe House Columbia Heights

1453 Harvard St. NW, Washington, District of Columbia 20009

 

Is This Weed Kosher?

Last evening, about thirty alumni of select GatherDC experiences convened at the Takoma Wellness Center – a medical marijuana dispensary owned and run by a rabbi, Jeff Kahn. It is one of only 5 dispensaries in the District, and the only dispensary in the country run by a rabbi.