30 Is the Age of Candidacy to be a United States Senator

Did you know that at age 30 you become officially able to run for US Senate? It’s a fact that makes me happy – that idea that this particular age is valued, for whatever arbitrary reason, for being an important turning point. And at age 35, you are able to run for President of the United States. There’s something I actually like about that – that by someones standards, I’m still growing into myself, into my maturity and wisdom.

Since I have no high level political ambitions (no higher than someday writing President Fitz’s lines for Scandal), it doesn’t bother me that I can’t run for President now. But, I do realize there are probably lots of very qualified candidates for both Senate and President who are under 30 and 35, respectively. And some folks have very strong opinions about this issue. This article The Right to Run in Slate made some solid points as to why we should be able to run for office at the same age we can vote.

“Here is a seldom discussed truth about our democracy: The citizenship enjoyed by American adults under the age of 35 is a second-class citizenship. We gain the right to participate fully in American democracy on our 35th birthdays, and not a day before. For on that day, provided all other requirements are met, we become constitutionally eligible to run for virtually all federal, state, and local offices, including the presidency. The fact that very few of us will ever exercise the right to run for any office is irrelevant to the milestone’s significance.” – Osita Nwanevu

After 35, what’s our next real age marker in American culture/government? I think it would be 62 for social security checks or 65 for Medicare? Am I missing any?

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Are You Sick of Blue and Black, White and Gold? Or still fascinated?

In case you’ve been under a rock (and it happens to the best of us), there’s been a major viral sensation going on since Thursday night easily dubbed Dress-Gate. It nearly broke the internet. Or at least my Facebook feed.

Is the dress blue and black or white and gold?

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This debate divided the internet so fiercely last night that everyone from Mindy Kaling to Kanye West to Taylor Swift to top researchers on colorblindness from universities all over the world have weighed in…and everyone seems to disagree.

Some people even saw the dress change colors from white and gold to blue and black or vice versa right in front of their eyes! These people include my very own mother.

And my social media experience today consisted of comments like:

“Am I on acid? This thing changed color!! Woh!!”

– “You are not on acid. The same thing happen to me. I saw the picture today at work it was gold and white, I looked at it again with my wife and it was gold to me and blue and black to her. Then we scrolled up the page and it changed colors colors back and fourth several times. Crazy”

Then today I received a phone call from my brother and I was shocked to hear him ask at the end of our conversation: “Oh yeah, blue and black or white and gold?” I had my response ready (I see blue and black). But man, if my brother, who could care less about colors of dresses, said he’d been “researching this fascinating phenomenon all morning,” then it really must have hit a nerve with everyone.

But why such fascination over a dress?

My guess is that not believing our eyes here is kind of equivalent to seeing a ghost. Or suddenly time traveling. Whether or not you believe in ghosts or time travel, if you haven’t experienced either of these things your entire life, and then suddenly do, it’s a major shock. Whether or not we consider ourselves “pretty open” human beings, by our thirties, we pretty much know the limits of our physical senses. So when we see or experience something we didn’t believe existed before, we kind of freak out.

In this case, we experienced something normal (viewing a photo of a dress) and then freaked out that our trusted friends or relatives seemed to see a completely different dress. BUT HOW CAN THAT BE??!

It’s now been proven that the dress is blue and black, whatever that means. The company that makes the dress said so themselves:

“We can confirm #TheDress is blue and black! We should know!” http://t.co/qAeIIHzJxkpic.twitter.com/kkxjUbmgI3

— Roman Originals (@romanoriginals) February 27, 2015

There have been various explanations for the differences in how the dress colors are viewed, but I have a feeling none of them are truly satisfying anyone right now. We’re still too busy being fascinated about our newfound five sense discoveries that can be had even later in life.

No matter what your age, stay open to new information still to be found out about your body and senses. Never assume you know everything about yourself. We’re probably not even close to discovering all that’s out there.

Though hopefully ghosts aren’t some of those things…

And if you’re interested in more info about Dress-gate, here are a few expert theories on the phenomenon:

“Your interpretation depends on several factors, such as which part of the figure you attend to.” -Dr. Joseph Toscano, Villanova University Department of Psychology and an expert in illusions.

“This photograph was probably taken on a phone camera and is very poorly exposed. It depends if your retina is interpreting this photo as over or under exposed, or more scientifically if your rods or cones are dominating the image interpretation.” -Dr. Reena A. Garg, an Assistant Professor of Ophthamology at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai

“It can be slightly different in different individuals and the spectrum of wavelengths dedicated to any color could be slightly shifted in some people.” -Dr. Steven Galetta, the chair of the neurology department at NYU Langone Medical Center.

“I’ve studied individual differences in color vision for 30 years, and this is one of the biggest individual differences I’ve ever seen.” Jay Neitz, a color-vision researcher at the University of Washington in Seattle, told Wired.

“It has to do with the tiny cones in the back of our eyeballs that perceive colors in a slightly different way depending upon our genes,” -Elizabeth Cohen, CNN Senior Medical Correspondent.

Business Insider has even has a great way for you to see both color schemes. Check it out- it’s like  finally decoding one of those crazy optical illusions you couldn’t figure out as a kid.

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Loss Aversion and Switching Your Career in Your Thirties

Are you familiar with the phenomenon of loss aversion? Basically, it’s a proven psychological principle that people have a tendency to strongly prefer avoiding losses to acquiring gains. It’s been shown that the desire to avoid losses is nearly twice as strong as acquiring gains. This explains why people hold onto tanking stocks even though all indications say to “sell!” It’s also probably why we often get stuck in a fear based mindset as opposed to an abundance based one.

I was thinking about this idea today in terms of switching careers. I’m in a funny/ambivalent spot myself, because I’m pursuing screenwriting but I also crave stability and consistent growth, which I don’t think this career can give me. So I have been wondering lately – what’s stronger – my desire to keep pursuing dramatic writing OR my desire for stability and consistent career growth?

I started thinking about perhaps I’m afraid that by starting a new path – at almost 33 years old – I will have “wasted” all the time. Is this simply loss aversion coming into play?

This article, The Big Reason It Might Be Time To Quit Your Job has some enlightening statistics about people who switch their jobs. Only 23% of people said they could easily switch careers.

Do you think you could switch careers at this point in your life? What would be the factors you would consider? How much of a salary cut would you take?

Power Tripping in Your Thirties

Do you remember having a crazy boss when you were younger? Or being new to a job and feeling powerless and lost? Was there a time when you looked around at coworkers for advice and assistance?

I’ve been through this multiple times, because, as a self-employed individual, my jobs are always revolving. I’ve been in “management” positions, team positions, and semi-employee positions. I remember being new to jobs and looking up to fellow coworkers for advice. Sometimes I knew that I should ask questions and felt too timid. Other times I was possibly too loud while feeling things out.

I see the power shifting of job positions all the time. It’s especially interesting in my field because someone who was the “manager” yesterday could simply be part of the team today. Leaders become followers become leaders all the time where I work. I find it’s very important to both be able to take direction as a “team member” and also to stay humble in leadership positions.

But I see power being abused all the time by people in leadership positions. People roll their eyes when ‘newbies’ make mistakes. People boss others around when there are way better ways to communicate. It’s easy to forget what it’s like to be new to a job and extremely confused.

Perhaps you’re in a leadership position at your job now that you’re in your thirties. Maybe you’re at the top of a ladder you climbed all throughout your twenties- an expert in your field. Try to remember what it was like when you were at the very beginning of your career climb. Keep your roots close to your heart.

Of course, I’ve also seen ‘new’ people disrespect those in authority, or not be able to take direction well. And of course, that doesn’t help them gain any favors from those in power.

However, once you climb close to the top, stay humble and simply empathize and help those around you with their own climb. Try not to power trip even though it may feel good to do so. Know that one day those ‘newbies’ you now have power over may end up in a position of power above you.

I've done some really wild gigs that would've been a lot harder if I had a power tripping manager on my case...

I’ve had some really wild gigs that would’ve been a lot harder if I had a power tripping manager on my case…

A Sweet Compromise

I’ve always been a dog person. Ever since I can remember, I’ve dreamed of having a dog and having that solid, cuddly companionship. But I grew up in Manhattan, and my parents told me that it would be unfair to have a dog in a small apartment with two adults who had full-time jobs. They were right. My dad ended up hooking me up with dog walking gigs in the building.

Now that I’m in my thirties, I feel like I can give myself those things I so desperately wanted as a child. Since I moved to California about a year and a half, I’ve been pressuring my fiancé for a dog. He’s been the voice of reason (amen), and we’ve avoided getting one because he’s mildly allergic AND our apartment is a one-bedroom. Even though we’re in California, our space is Brooklyn-sized.

So we decided a that fostering would be a sweet compromise. We ended up fostering a sweet pooch who I picked up yesterday. Meet Chase. Two month old German Shepard mix, who was picked up roaming the streets of Palmdale, California, hungry and dehydrated.

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I’m writing with a sleepy brain now, because I’ve been on high alert all day, making sure this small animal is safe and sound. I’ve been on bathroom duty all day, and I’m pooped (pun intended!).

Taking care of a puppy is TOUGH – I definitely underestimated how tough it is. OY.

But at least now my childhood dream is somewhat realized. I’ve had a dog for a full twenty-four hours!

What did you want a child that you’d like to give yourself as a bona-fide “grown-up”?

The Occasional Inspiration of Social Media

I wrote a bit about social media and how it can get you down in my post “That Time You Hated Positivity in Your Thirties.”

Sometimes I attempt to take breaks from Facebook (this is hard) because it can occasionally get me down. Seeing too many selfies on my Newsfeed can be the emotional equivalent to eating handfuls of Doritos…I just feel kind of queasy afterwards. Workout selfies especially bother me- they just feel icky somehow.. exceptionally self-involved…and I even enjoy working out.

In my thirties, I am now super aware of the time suck that can be social media. As powerful a tool as social media can be, it can also be the junk food of our adult lives. I’ve had Facebook as a part of my days during all of my twenties, and have regretted countless addicted hours spent there. :p

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But to each their own. I understand that some people want to take pictures of themselves sweating off their weight in the gym. And other people love to “#hashtagblessed” everything that happens in their lives. And sometimes when I’m shaking in -6 degree weather, I hate that people love to post dozens of photos of their tropical vacations. However, I know that I post a lot of travel updates, and sometimes a bunch of happy warm weather trips too, and am possibly annoying a bunch of acquaintances accidentally. I know I can’t censor everything I want to say for fear it’ll upset someone- EVERYTHING will upset SOMEONE.

Also, since I can easily block annoying posts from my feed, I’m usually quiet about them. I’m only writing about them here because this is my blog, and I feel like I can secretly tell you about all the things that bother me :p

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But I’ll also tell you about the social media posts that don’t bother me. My friend Tiffanay posts a lot of inspirational quotes that never seem to drip with phony positivity. They always ring extremely genuine and honest. It’s hard to put my finger on why they inspire me. Maybe it’s because I know her and I know how honest and genuine she is personally. But her Facebook posts always make me feel peaceful inside and calm me down.

I’ll copy a few here. Let me know what you think. Do you get annoyed by social media? Or do you have a passion for it?

And thanks, Tiffanay!

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Top 10 Money Mistakes to Avoid in Your 30s

In no particular order, here are 10 money mistakes to avoid in your thirties:

1. Only paying the minimum on your credit card

No. No. No. Avoid this, unless you absolutely cannot. The interest on some of these cards is bonkers (30% anyone?), and it’s just not worth it.

2. Not Considering the Benefits of a Company You May Work At 

Think about all the benefits a future company can offer you. Not just the job itself.

Choosing to work at a company that offers matching funds for your retirement 401K is an amazing perk and you absolutely MUST take advantage of it. Larger corporations often offer matching funds and it’s basically free money, so don’t let it pass you by.

Also consider how good the health benefits are, if there are benefits at all. How much will you have to pay monthly? Do they cover services like physical therapy and talk therapy?

Are there other benefits to consider? Like education or free daycare. I worked at a college for 4 years, and I was able to get a FREE MFA if I wanted. Umm…free Master’s Education, heck yeah! That’s worth like $40,000. I would have done this if they offered writing, but they didn’t. However, imagine if you worked at a school like Columbia, and could a Master’s program that would up your earning potential. Awesome. In many cases, you can also get your children free tuition down the line, if you’re still working at the school of course.

3. Spending too much on little things 

From your $3 cold brew iced coffee to your $1.75 Dasani cold water (guilty), all of these little extravagances add up. Sometimes, at the end of the day, I think about all the small fees and treats I could have avoided paying for, and usually it’s been $3 and $5. So let’s say I could save an extra $5 a day, that would be $1825 a year! Holy moly. That’s a lot of money.

4. Apartment Broker Fees

In NYC, it can sometimes be between 10 and 12% of the annual rent – which can be about one month’s rent or anywhere from $1100 to $2000, depending on what kind of apartment you rent.

I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve paid at least three broker fees when I lived in NYC. That was about $3000 lost dollars. There are ways to get around paying broker fees, and searching for these ways is the best way to go. It may mean a longer search time, or using more unorthodox methods (like asking friends of friends), but it’s worth it.

5. Not Picking Up Loose Change on the Street 

My mom taught me this one. Laugh all you want, but if you see a penny, a quarter, a nickel – anything, pick it up! Seriously. It’s not just about the money itself. I think it truly cultivates a sense of reverence towards money. Every time you don’t pick up change, it’s like saying “Oh, that’s just a nickel, who cares!” but what a terrible mentality. Let’s say you manage to pick up 10 cents a day everyday for 10 years (Which actually seems pretty likely considering how many pennies I see lying around), you’d have $365 dollars after 10 years. Not chump change.

6. Not Shopping Around for Groceries 

I adore Rao’s tomato sauce. It’s anywhere from $7.99 to $9.99 a jar, but man, that stuff rules. It’s absolutely delicious and tastes like you’re eating at a real Italian restaurant. Yum. But the point is that normally it’s on sale, recently Whole Foods has been carrying it for $7.99, and that saves me a whole $2 each time I buy it.

7. Not Choosing the Best Option between Renting and Buying 

I really don’t know how to describe the exact math here, but use this handy calculator to determine the best option for you.

8. Not Shopping for Clothing on Sale

Most stores have sales now that offer days when all items are a percentage off. In particular, Banana Republic and the Gap ALWAYS have their damn 40% off sales, at least once a week it seems. Why would you buy any full-price item that’s NOT 40% off? Those are the main two clothing stores I shop at, so I always wait until that deal is around before I purchase an item.

9. Investing in high-cost managed accounts 

Laura knows more about this than I do, but some investment and mutual fund accounts have fees attached to them, from the 1% fund management fee to the 1% financial advisor fee, you end up paying 40% of your returns (generally between 5 and 7%) to your broker.

10.  Having too many automated payments

I love my fiancé and he’s really good with money in most senses, but he has WAY too many automated payments. From paying monthly fees for Photoshop to Spotify, he pays a ton in monthly payments for services.  The problem with automated payments is that you forget about them. They become like financial wallpaper. And I think that’s dangerous. Again, it goes back to having a reverence for money.

BONUS:

11. Not Consistently Checking Your Credit Score 

I use the free service Credit Karma, and I check in every few months to see if my score has gone up (or god forbid, gone down). Having a high credit score can save you THOUSANDS of dollars in the long run, especially when you want to take out a mortgage. Staying above 760 is ideal. Even higher is better.

Hope this helps! If you have any tips of your own and would like to share, please do.

That Time You Hated Positivity In Your Thirties

Have you ever had someone say “cheer up” or “smile” to you? Did it annoy you at the time?

Have you ever wondered why you can’t constantly be happy and peaceful? Why do circumstances always come at you and change your happy perspective for a bit? Why can’t you get back that peace you felt a minute ago or yesterday or last week or last year?

I used to think, “all I want is to be strong all the time. And I feel strong when I’m positive and happy. So I want to be positive and happy all the time. I wish I could figure out how to always be peaceful and happy every moment of every day.”

Or I’d think, “I don’t know how so-and-so does it. He/She seems so peaceful/happy/blessed/lucky all the time on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter. How is He/She always so happy/magical/overjoyed in His/Her status updates? If only I could be stronger, I could hold onto this kind of happiness/blessedness/unicorn-ness all the time!”

The older I get, the more I have moments of clarity about this kind of happiness and strength. I actually think that true strength doesn’t lie in holding onto smiles and cheer all the time, but in recognizing that feelings come and go in waves. And waves go both up and down.

The other day, I was saying to a friend of mine “I just want to be strong, and I’ve been so happy lately. But today I feel shaken by outside circumstances, and I can’t hold onto the strength I felt yesterday. What do I do?” But as I said it, I realized that in a way I was stronger than ever. And I didn’t really need to do anything. I’ve begun to recognize the waves and ride them, even when they’re occasionally jarring and scary.

Constant happy-joy-joy positivity, especially on social media, annoys me because it seems fake. There’s a notion that ‘putting on a happy face all the time’ is the absolute best thing to do. I don’t really agree.

Not that I think being negative is good. But as I enter my thirties, I think the best spot to be is ‘positive but honest.’ You can still be positive and admit you’re scared. You can still be positive and feel weak. You can still be positive and cry. And you can also be positive and happy.

Life happens. Circumstances outside you happen. It’s okay to admit they get to you sometimes.

Ironically, the more you can ride the low feelings and let them be, the better you’ll ride the high…and the happier you’ll be anyway.

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The Stigma Attached to Not Wanting Children

Have you noticed there seems to be a stigma around being a woman of a certain age who doesn’t want children?

To preface this post, I’m not writing about myself and my own desires not to have children. I personally do want children, but I also wouldn’t be devastated if I couldn’t have children. I am an only child and I’ve always had a desire to have a bigger family, and naturally I feel pretty maternal.  I’m nearly 33, so this whole ‘having children’ thing is on my mind.

Despite wanting children, at this stage in my life, I identify more with the woman who wants time to work on her projects and her career than have children. I love my alone time to think, ponder and daydream. I love vast swaths of private time with no particular place to be or people to see. Is this me being an INFP? Perhaps. But, I’ve always been a late bloomer in my life, and in this particular area, I don’t have the luxury of being a late-bloomer. Of course I could wait till I’m nearing 40 and chance it with having kids, but that is indeed, chancing it.

When I say I want children, it sometimes feels like the “I” I’m thinking about my future self; specifically, the needs and desires of my future self. The same way I might plan for retirement financially or dream about having two dogs and a jacuzzi, deep soaking bathtub when I’m older and have more money.

I’ve just noticed lately that there’s such a stigma to not wanting to have children. The stigma seems to be this notion that if you don’t want children, it’s because you really did but you put your career first or didn’t find a husband/boyfriend in time, and now you’re subconsciously justifying your ‘choice’  And I hate that! Choosing not to have children can be a very active choice and not some by-product of running out of time, as it is often portrayed.

Another aspect of the stigma seems to be that there’s something inherently not ‘natural’ or ‘feminine’ about not wanting children. So many characters in films who don’t want children are tough and mean, like the evil corporate bitch that is Sigourney Weaver’s character in Working Girl.

This whole post was inspired by an interesting article I read on Dailyworth.com, Why I Never Wanted Kids. The article touched a nerve because I was surprised and intrigued by all of the reasons the author listed for not wanting children. There was one in particular that I never thought about: Having a negative experience as a child and not wanting to subject another person to that. I thought that was intriguing. While I had a good childhood, it wasn’t a reason I could relate to, but I could certainly empathize.

Do you have friends that know they don’t want children? How do you view their choice?

But Thirty is So Young…

It’s funny how on your journey through your twenties, you always think “Oh man, I can’t believe I’m going to be thirty. I’m getting so OLDDDDD…’

And once you hit thirty, you exclaim ‘Am I an adult now? I’m not a kid anymore… I’m so old. I’m expected to be mature.’

And then, once you’re in your thirties, and especially your later thirties, you try to hide your age because you feel like you’re so old since you aren’t in your twenties anymore. Even the clothing store ‘Forever 21’ reminds us of this every day.

But on my way to work today, I was in a taxi with my coworkers, and we made a remark about how beautiful the beaded gems were that were hanging from our driver’s rearview mirror. We told him how much we liked them.

He thanked us. Then he said that the gems were memorials for his sister and his best friend who had both died tragically of cancer in their thirties.

Their thirties.

A heavy moment of sadness hung in the air. We were silent. We stopped complaining about how we had to work long hours. We stopped complaining about the cold. We definitely weren’t complaining about how old we were in our thirties.

All we could think was ‘they were so young.’

I realize I take so much for granted.  I remember the story of Brittany Maynard, who died at 29 of a terrible disease. I start to grasp what a gift it is to live to 30. Even when things seem terrible, I have to recognize how amazing it is to simply still be alive.

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Would You Invest In Real Estate With Your Friends?

Tonight I had the pleasure of going to a women’s film mentoring group here in LA. It was a laid-back discussion about goal setting between a diverse group of women in the industry, including directors, actors, writers and even a woman who specialized in commercial real estate brokering for the film industry.

My ears perked up when one very accomplished woman talked about how one of her side projects was real estate investing. She talked about how her and a group of friends invested in homes together and then sold them at a profit. The lead mentor chimed in and applauded what a great idea that was, saying that women need to be more assertive in investing; to take more risks. It got me thinking about women and investing and if it’s really true that women are less risk-taking than men. I did some cursory research tonight and came up with a few interesting facts from a recent study from BlackRock, a New York based investment management firm. Here were some takeaways:

  • 61% of women agreed with the statement, “I am not willing to take any risks with my money,” compared to 41%of men.
  • 30% of women considered themselves active investors, compared to 37% of men.
  • 19% of women said they felt comfortable investing in the stock market, compared to 37% of men.
  • 7%  of women said they allocate take-home income to investing, compared to 12% of men.

While investing can take all kinds of forms, I’m curious – would you ever invest in real estate with your friends? Personally, I think I’d be too wary of inter-mixing friendship and money. I like to keep my friendships completely pure and unsullied. This question reminds me of an article from last year in NY Times which profiled groups of couple friends who bought Brooklyn townhouses together because they couldn’t afford the homes on their own. I thought that it sounded like a solid idea in theory, but I think the potential for building resentments between friends could be overwhelming. Maybe that’s my anxiety speaking. What do you think?

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The Most Common Tax Questions in Your Thirties- Part 1

Oh man, it’s getting to be tax time soon. Has anyone already filed their taxes? If so, good for you! Kudos!

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I’m still working in Chicago right now and won’t be able to get all my 1099s together and ready for filing until I get back to New York. I have things moderately organized, and I even have an accountant, but my tax preparation still requires quite a bit of effort- especially since I sometimes end up with over a dozen 1099s per year (!)

In honor of the advent of tax season, and taxes starting to be on the forefront of everyone’s mind, I’ve compiled a list of common tax questions that are relevant to those of us in our thirties. The first few are pretty basic ones which you may have already figured out, and then they get slightly more detailed. Of course, tax answers are rarely simple, so you should make sure to triple check everything for your own personal situation. And I’m splitting this into sections, so you’ll get more tax question and tip articles as April 15th approaches.

1. Should I use tax software this year? Which program?

I used to use H&R Block’s tax software, which I think is pretty good. It’s about $20 for a basic program, and $65 for self-employed software.Turbotax is also quite popular- and it’s base cost is free. Once my self-employment taxes started to get really complex, I hired an accountant.

2. Should I get an accountant?

Only you know whether you need an accountant based on your personal situation. However, I think you can almost definitely make do with simple tax software if you are an employee with only one job and all you need to file is your w2. If you have side income from anything (rental income, side jobs, etc), you may want to consider an accountant- however, I think you still may be able to use tax software successfully. If you’re self-employed, I recommend considering an accountant, if only to protect yourself from accidental audit triggers. You can even find accountants on Yelp now. My goodness, I love Yelp.

3. How much do accountants cost?

CPA’s (Certified Public Accounts) charge anywhere from $150-$400 or more. But you can definitely get a great accountant for less than $400…read those Yelp reviews. A funny bonus of having an accountant is that your tax prep fee is actually tax deductible!

4. Does last year’s tax refund count as income this year?

The answer to this is almost always no if you took the standard deduction. If you itemized your deductions, it may count as income- look into it.

5. What documents do I need to do my taxes?

You need all your w2s (if you work only one job, you’ll have only one w2).

You’ll need all your 1099s if you’re self-employed or have side income.

Also, it’s important to have documentation of any interest you made on any of your savings or investments (you get taxed on this).

Additionally, you’ll need documentation of any interest you paid so you can deduct that from your taxable income (the interest paid on student loans, etc, is tax deductible). Also, if you’re itemizing deductions, you’ll need your receipts, or a spreadsheet of your receipts if you made one. (You won’t actually need to show anyone the actual receipts (except your accountant) unless you’re audited.)

6. If I made very little money this year, do I still have to file taxes?

Officially, for 2014, if you’re under 65 and filing as single and independent, you don’t actually have to file your taxes if you made under $10,500. If you’re married and filing jointly and under 65, the number is $20,300. Here’s a chart with more details. However, you may still want to file taxes for several reasons- one of which is that if you had taxes withheld, you can’t get your tax refund without filing. Here are a few other reasons.

7. What are some deductions I can take to help reduce what I’m paying on my taxes?

Have you deducted the interest you’re paying on your mortgage or student loan debt? Have you deducted your health care costs? Did you spend lots money to move for your job? There are some great deductions you may not be using to your advantage. Mashable goes into fantastic detail on this here.

Hope this has helped you with some of your questions- feel free to comment below with additional ones- I’d love to hear from you! Look out for more tax info here soon, and good luck filing!

Is Your Job Suited to Your Personality?

Have you taken the Myers-Briggs personality test? It’s considered one of the top personality questionnaires available, and it measures how people perceive the world and make decisions. You can take the test on lots of different websites, but I recommend 16 Personalities. It’s completely free and the test takes about twelve minutes to complete.

I discovered that I was an INFP, an introvert, intuitive, feeling and perceiving person. When I read the description, I was pretty amazed at how accurate it seemed. I am an idealist who lives very internally. I avoid conflict, and I don’t give myself enough credit for accomplishments (though I’m kind of giving myself credit now, aren’t I?).

Once I dove deeper into resources surrounding the findings of the Myers-Briggs, I discovered a host of websites catering to specific personality types. There’s a ton of crappy SEO content websites, but some sites are actually very informative. In particular, there are a ton of great resources for finding jobs suited to your personality. I came across this awesome info graphic about which jobs are best suited for different personalities.

The best job fits for me are: author/writer and counseling/social services work. This is pretty accurate, considering I’m a writer now and I’ve always thought if I wasn’t pursuing writing, I’d probably be getting my Masters in Social Work or Psychology. And hey, I still might.

Take the test if you haven’t already. And if you have, check out the personality types. Does your position match your personality?

Being Single on Valentines Day in Your Thirties

This is the first time in 8 years that I’ll be single on Valentines Day.

And now I’m 30- an age where I watch many of my friends not only go out with their significant other for V-Day, but also get married and have (multiple) babies. I watch relationships bloom all around me, like the red rose bouquets popping up everywhere this time of year.

Is this familiar to you? Are you in your thirties and single and wondering what this holiday means for you..if anything? Are you single on what Hallmark and others call ‘the most romantic day of the year?’

Last Valentines Day, if you told me I’d be single this year, on this day, I might have cried. Correction- I would have most definitely cried. I would have wailed. I would have said ‘oh god, what am I going to do? What’s wrong with me? How can I prevent this from happening? How am I going to fix this?’ I would have felt lost. I would have felt desperately alone.

I can put myself right back into that mindset: lost, alone. That thought pattern still comes and goes in waves. I know exactly what it’s like to cling onto something, to clutch onto a belief that doesn’t feel true anymore or bring happiness anymore, for fear that there’s something even worse out there.. something way more scary: the unknown. And being alone.

Yet here I am. The unknown has arrived. It’s Valentines Day eve and I’m 30 and I’m here and I’m single.

And I feel… happy.

It’s a warm, glowing feeling- subtle. Soft. Unexpected. There’s something different about this happiness- there’s a strength in it. It’s a flaming ember in my chest that feels clearer than ever. And I don’t feel alone when I thought I’d be the absolute most alone in my life.

And I get what it means when people say to face your fears and jump into the unknown: sometimes the unknown is better than the desperately unfulfilling familiar. Or the known that doesn’t work for you.

So I’m embracing being single on Valentines Day! I’ll shout it loud and clear: Who cares that I’m 30 and single? I’m also 30 and happy!

So if you’re single on Valentines Day and you’re in your thirties, who cares? It’s okay! In fact, it’s awesome!  You don’t need to be in a relationship to claim Valentines Day as your own. Needing to be in a relationship in your 30s, 40s, 50s, 20s (any age) in order to be worthy is a ridiculous myth! You’re already extremely worthy!

So give yourself some love this Valentines Day. Buy yourself flowers, get yourself wine, take yourself to a movie, hang out with friends, or hang out alone!

Or if you don’t feel happy that you’re single- that’s okay too. Claim it! Have an Anti-Valentines Day party! Or ignore the day and sit home and watch Netflix all night- there’s some good stuff on.

And discover micro-moments of love and connection that can happen all the time– with total strangers! The linked article above talks about how “true love is not contained to long-term romance, but can happen in an instant, between anyone.” Or anything! It can even happen between you and nature- your surroundings. Go ahead- fall in love on the bus! Enjoy love throughout your day without saying a word! And send love to others! You’re never alone. Really.

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Feeling Old in Grad School

I can’t help but feel old these days, even though I know the feeling is environmental. It’s because I’m nearing 33 years old (wow!) and I spend much of my days surrounded by undergrads. I’m a graduate student in writing at UCLA, and I am constantly surrounded by eighteen to twenty two year-olds. There are 29,663 undergrads at UCLA, so you can imagine how packed the campus is.

Unlike a lot of grad students, I’m on campus everyday because I have a part-time job at the college library. So I happen to be in the undergrad scene every day. It feels funny to be standing on line at Jamba Juice getting a smoothie with half of the undergrad gymnastics team or getting solicited to join the various campus groups (Acapella, anyone?). Like I’m perpetually stuck in this very specific time period of life. The experience has been disorienting, to say the least. It doesn’t help that I also spent four years post-college working at an arts college in Manhattan called SVA (The School of Visual Arts). I was 25 when I started my job there, so I felt like a “recent grad” myself. Working at SVA was fun and exciting, and made the transition to the real world somewhat smoother. But, it seems like the background of my life narrative these past years seems to be the world of academia…

While I wouldn’t want to be surrounded by only thirty-somethings, I do feel like I miss the diversity of various age groups – from younger to older folks. But, with grad school, you take the good with the bad. I love my program, and I’m at least surrounded by this absolutely magnificent campus.

Look familiar? UCLA’s campus is used in tons of movies and TV shows, most recently Royce Hall (lowest photo) was featured on The Mindy Project.

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Have you been to graduate school? How did it feel for you?

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