Jorge, artist and Twin Cities resident, is working hard to further his career as a rapper while still maintaining his job at a law firm and navigating the rules of COVID-19 that we’re all working through. He considers himself blessed with his supportive family and current circumstances.

I’m very grateful to my parents to be living with them, and incredibly lucky to have a job where I can work from home. By living this way, I’m saving money that would otherwise go to rent and gasoline.

Jorge is grateful for the many ways his parents have set him up for success. His parents immigrated from Mexico, uprooting and starting a new life to find more opportunities for themselves and their children. His father has taught him a lot about managing money. In early 2020, he suggested to his son that he get his taxes taken care of at Prepare + Prosper (P+P). While not his first time getting his taxes done, it was Jorge’s his first time at P+P.

I first thought that everyone was a paid employee. Everyone was so professional and friendly, taking the time to make sure I understood what was going on.

Through expertly trained and financially savvy volunteers, P+P seeks to transform tax time into an opportunity for customers to discover and utilize helpful financial tools, tips, and products. Volunteers aim to file taxes in a way that’s actionable, giving customers a clear understanding of their tax situation and what steps they might take to make the best of it. Jorge was one such customer, who got his taxes filed, learned some helpful tax tips, and was a lucky winner of a Save Your Refund prize.

Jorge learned he could deduct his charitable giving from his taxable income. By keeping track of his donations and having records ready when he files next year, he’ll have another tool to minimize his tax liability and maximize his tax refund.

While Jorge had a plan in mind for his tax refund, his dad encouraged him to purchase a U.S. Savings Bond, too. U.S. Savings Bonds are one of the most secure types of investment, as Jorge is guaranteed to get his money back with interest. U.S. Savings Bonds take 20 years to mature, so they’re often a good choice for young people or parents who want to set aside funds for their children’s future. This choice resulted in Jorge being the lucky winner of a $100 Save Your Refund prize, a national savings campaign that incentivizes savings at tax time.

While part of Jorge’s refund went into savings, another part became an important investment in his passion: music. Music is currently his side-job, rapping under the name J J L. He hopes that his music will shift into being his main job, but wisely knows income through art can be unpredictable.

Down the road, I’d like to make some investments in real estate, to hopefully create a reliable income that wouldn’t take too much of my attention away from my music.

Jorge describes himself as a “control freak” in that he loves to have his hands in every step of the music-making process, from writing and singing to sound engineering, mixing, and producing. He’s taught himself along the way, putting his time and energy into the long-term investment of education.

When I was younger, I would spend my tax refund on short term stuff – nice clothes, good food, and other things that were fun but not very lasting. Now that I’m older, I see that my tax refund is an opportunity to invest in myself, and it’s my responsibility to make that happen.

Using a portion of his tax refund, Jorge paid YouTube to promote one of his music videos. He didn’t have high hopes; he’d seen his friends make the same investment and not have it come to fruition. But he believed in this song, and took the financial risk.

Jorge’s investment paid off – the song, “Myself” is now the most popular video on his channel, with more than twelve thousand views. That attention also directs users to his Spotify account, where each listen results in a small payment. With over nine thousand listeners in a month, those small payments add up. Online promotion also brings listeners from all over the country, sharing his art with a wide audience.

You don’t have to be crazy huge or work with a record label to find success, now that you’re just a click away. But to get anywhere you need view yourself as a valuable asset, and invest in yourself.