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Tax Refund Touchdowns
So, you got a tax refund – now what? While you might have morphed into a human version of the “money-mouth face” emoji (🤑), fight the urge to treat yourself. Unless you’re debt free and have a nice chunk of change in your savings and retirement accounts, getting financially fit should be your priority over splurging on big-ticket items.
Here are five ways to use your refund responsibly:
Tackle your debt. If you’re carrying high-interest debt, paying it off should be your top priority. Paying interest sucks, and if you’re carrying a large balance on a credit card but only making the minimum payment each month, you may never feel like you’re getting ahead. Use your tax refund to pay off any debt you have. If your refund doesn’t cover everything, it’s time to figure out a debt-payoff plan.
Save it. More than half of Americans don’t have enough in savings to cover a $1,000 emergency, according to Bankrate. If you’re just starting out, money might be a little tight, making it even harder to build up your savings. Think about tossing your tax refund into your savings account so you’re better prepared for life’s little surprises. If your emergency fund already has enough money to cover at least 3–6 months of expenses, consider setting up another savings account for a specific goal, such as a travel fund or a down payment for a new car.
Donate it. Helping others gives us the warm-and-fuzzies, so why not use your refund for good? When your budget is tight, it can be hard to find extra money throughout the year, so donating the cash from your refund is a perfect opportunity to make a difference. Plus, your charitable donation could be tax-deductible next year.
Spend it (on something you need). The keyword here is need. If you’ve been putting off car repairs or minor medical or dental procedures, your tax refund could help you cover these larger, but necessary, expenses.
Spend it (on something you want). Okay, okay…I know I cautioned against splurging, but if you’ve stuck to your budget, saved, and stayed out of debt all year, you’ve earned the right to buy yourself something nice. Just don’t get carried away, of course!
I didn’t get a huge refund. Did I do something wrong? Nope, not at all! Your tax refund isn’t free money; it’s money you overpaid to the government over the course of the year. If you owe money on your taxes, it means you didn’t pay enough out of each check. Take the time to periodically check your withholding and adjust if necessary (the IRS has a handy calculator on their website that can help you out). Paying attention to your withholding is important for two reasons: 1) if you don’t pay enough from each paycheck over the year, you could face an unexpected bill when you file your taxes, and 2) if you normally get a large refund, you can opt to have less withheld up front—your paychecks will be a little higher, giving you more flexibility each month.
Q&A with quarterback Matt Ryan
Quarterback Matt Ryan has a pretty impressive resume. He got his start playing football for William Penn Charter School in Philadelphia and went on to play for Boston College before being drafted by Atlanta in 2008. Ryan was named MVP in 2016, the same year he led Atlanta to the big championship game.
As part of our 85 Acts of Kindness for our 85th anniversary, Georgia’s Own gave 85 lucky members the opportunity to meet Matt Ryan, and Ne[x]t Magazine took the opportunity to ask him a few questions. Check it out below!
What’s your favorite thing about Atlanta?
My favorite thing about Atlanta is the local community. The people in this city have been so incredibly warm and welcoming—they truly are the epitome of southern charm and hospitality.
What do you do in your free time off the field?
I’m a proud, full-time dad of twin baby boys, Johnny and Marshall, so any chance I get, I love spending time with them and my wife, Sarah.
What’s the biggest lesson being a professional athlete has taught you?
The biggest lesson is learning from every experience. Being a professional athlete, you have your incredible highs and lows. No matter what you are going through, it is about just taking it day by day, learning from every moment, and preparing for the next.
What keeps you motivated day to day?
My biggest motivation is my family, especially my wife, Sarah, and twin boys, Johnny and Marshall.
What players influenced you as an athlete?
Brett Favre was definitely an influence—I was a huge fan of his growing up.
What’s your favorite memory from your time at Boston College?
My favorite memory at Boston College was in 2007 when we faced Virginia Tech. Through the first three quarters, we were falling behind, but in the last few moments of the game, everything clicked, and we ended up making a comeback from behind to win in the last few minutes of the game.
Who first started calling you Matty Ice?
It started in college by a couple buddies outside of football.
What kind of music are you listening to pre-game?
I love the early 2000s Atlanta rap era with T.I.
Do you have any pre-game/in-game rituals?
I always ride to the game with our other quarterback Matthew Schaub; it’s sort of our bonding time to talk about the game ahead.
What do you like to do after a good performance or win?
It’s great to celebrate a win, but you have to shift focus pretty quickly to prepare for the next game ahead.
Other than a home game, where do you like playing the most?
Green Bay is pretty special. I grew up watching Brett Favre at Lambeau and love being able to get out there myself.
What advice do you have for young athletes?
No matter what, prepare for the situation ahead. I live by the mantra, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail,” and I always try to teach younger athletes to really incorporate preparation into their game plan.
Did you have any jobs growing up? If so, what was the first or most interesting?
Like every kid growing up, I had a lemonade stand. But certainly, the most interesting job I’ve ever had is the one I have now.
What is the best (or worst) purchase you’ve ever made?
Did you see the three-piece sweater-vest suit I wore to the draft? That is certainly the worst.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
Make sure the team around you off the field is as solid as the play you want to have on the field. Your team’s guidance is invaluable.
Just for fun—what’s something many people might not know about you?
I don’t think many people would know that I’m a pretty good golfer!
Behind the Mic with Brian Moote
A recent transplant from Los Angeles, Brian made the move across the country to join The Bert Show, alongside show veterans Bert and Kristin, a little over a year ago.
We chatted with Brian about how he’s adjusting to life in Atlanta, his work on radio and on stage, and his unique talents. Find out how this once-aspiring bulldozer operator became a radio and comedy star.
How did you get your start in radio?
I got into radio while living in Los Angeles as a comedian. I was on the road and an opportunity opened up to audition in Seattle. I sent in some demos from various radio shows that I had done around the country while touring in radio, and the station liked it a lot so they offered me a cohost position on their new morning show. It was called “Mornings with Jackie, Marco and Moote” on Click 98.9 FM.
Was being in radio a childhood dream? What would you be doing if you weren’t in radio?
My dream as a child was to play professional basketball or be a bulldozer operator. My mom was less keen on the idea of me driving tractors. If I wasn’t in radio, I would be touring the country as a comedian or using my master’s degree in social work to help at-risk youth.
You moved across the country to join The Bert Show – what about the show convinced you to make the move?
Making the decision to move across the country from Los Angeles to Atlanta was a pretty easy one. The Bert Show is nationally known as a unique and cutting-edge morning show in Top 40 formats. It is rare to find a morning show that has as much talk time and story development as The Bert Show does. Joining the show was the right choice for me because it is a place in where I can both entertain people in the mornings, as well as learn about radio and grow as a personality.
What’s the biggest challenge working in radio?
Balancing all the things that I do for the show and my life outside the show. It can get difficult to put the right amount of effort into all areas of your life and not let something suffer. Like for me, I perform stand-up comedy 3 or 4 nights a week, which can make early mornings tough on my creative process for both comedy and radio.
What’s your favorite thing about The Bert Show?
My favorite thing is how many great listeners we have and getting to meet a lot of them when I am out and about in the community or at my comedy shows.
What’s been the coolest thing you’ve gotten to do thanks to The Bert Show?
Hands down, the coolest thing that I have been able to do as a member of The Bert Show is attending the Super Bowl, even though the game didn’t go the way that we wanted. It was a crazy experience going to all of the fancy parties and goofing around at the NFL Experience. The coolest part of the whole trip was that my brother and I did not have game tickets — we were basically just out there to experience the parties and the vibe of the weekend. When we got to a tailgate party at the stadium in Houston, we met Falcons owner Arthur Blank’s security staff who he sent out to the game. We told them that we didn’t actually have tickets and they contacted Arthur and got two single tickets for us. They were all amazing people.
If you could interview anyone, who would it be and why?
Hmmm… That’s an interesting question. I am not a big fan of most interviews. They are difficult to do because our job is to get the person to say something interesting that nobody has heard and it’s their job to basically say nothing and promote something. I think if I had the option to interview anybody, I would go with Barack Obama right now. I feel like since he’s out of office now, you might actually get some good answers about what he actually thinks.
What’s a typical day in the life of Brian Moote like?
A typical day for me begins about 4:30am, and I head to the station at 5am. We have the show from 5:45am to 10am, and then I have to get into post-show stuff, like meetings, cutting commercial spots, preparing material for the next day, etc. I generally get out of the station around 12pm and I head home to take my dog Moxie (little Chihuahua mix) out for a walk, and then I get a nap in for an hour or so. Naps are huge for me because I generally do stand-up at night. At about 2pm or 3pm, I try to get some exercise in, sometimes a long run, or a workout class in the area. In the afternoon, I end up working on radio and comedy things for a couple hours and then about 7pm, I head to one of the comedy clubs in the city and work on some jokes.
How did you get into comedy? Is it hard to balance your comedy career with your radio career?
I got into comedy after I got out of college and moved back to Seattle to teach Special Ed. My mom had always told me to do comedy because I was a good storyteller. I was incredibly nervous to go on stage for the first time because I have always hated public speaking. After that, I kept getting on stage every night for the next few years and eventually started getting paid to do it. The balance between stand-up and radio is difficult. One reason is that the hours are opposite, so you’re basically living your life in a split shift with sleep in between. For me, it is really important to devote time to both individually, in terms of developing material. There is some crossover in both, but it’s important to approach them separately because the style of delivery is different. I try to devote an hour a day to stand-up writing and other stand-up projects completely outside of The Bert Show.
Which comedians influence you the most?
The comedian that inspires me the most is Bill Burr. His style and material, I relate to pretty well. He likes to take stories from his life and tough social topics and turn them into jokes, which I respect. He is actually the reason that I went to Boston instead of NYC for graduate school and comedy. He told me it was a city that would really help you find your comedic voice and he was correct.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your comedy?
It sounds cliché, but I get my material from my life and the world around me. Generally, all of the things that I talk about on stage come from an experience I had or thought about. Of course, the jokes get ridiculous because I embellish on them and add new aspects. The one thing for me is that I have to relate to the material or I find it boring. I am not a huge fan of just jokes for joke’s sake. I still write those types of jokes for social media, but they usually don’t make the cut for my onstage act.
You’ve previously worked in special education and with at-risk youth – is that something you’re still involved with?
I am still involved with a lot of organizations that not only work with special needs and at-risk youth, but a variety of causes in the greater Atlanta area. At this point in my career, I mainly work with helping organizations raise money and awareness for their cause. If people want to either get involved with non-profits, or have a non-profit that they want me to help out with, the best way to get in touch with me is through e-mail or on social media.
How are you adjusting to life in Atlanta? What’s your favorite thing to do in the city?
I love Atlanta so far, it’s a city with a ton of fun neighborhoods. My favorite thing to do here is explore since I am new to the city. I really enjoy riding my bike or jogging around exploring.
It’s no secret Georgia’s Own and Ne[x]t are all about making smart financial choices. Why do you think it’s so important for the younger generation to learn about managing money?
I think that it’s huge for young folks to manage their money because I think a lot of the financial resources that older generations have are starting to dry up and I think that it is important to plan for your future independently so you don’t have to depend on other programs.
Do you have any tips or tricks to help keep your finances in check?
The only tip that I have is not to ignore things. It can get too easy to just ignore your finances when you get stressed out by life. I let a student loan go into default when I was 23, and it took me a few years to get back on track and organized.
Just for fun – what is one thing about you that many people might not know?
I can juggle and ride a unicycle. I learned how to do those things when I was a clown in 4-H in third grade. Yes, that is right, I was a clown in 4-H and I dressed up as a hobo clown and walked around the Island County Fair entertaining people.