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Personal Finance for PhDs
32 minutes | Oct 25, 2021
The Tech Entrepreneuroscientist on Happiness and Financial Independence
In this episode, Emily interviews Dr. Sharena Rice, who recently completed her PhD in neuroscience at the University of Michigan. At the start of grad school, Sharena defined what she considers "the good life" and made sure that she lived according to her values. She committed herself to simple living so that she could invest over half of her stipend and pursue adventures. One element of Sharena's good life is fulfilling work, so she became involved with five start-ups during grad school to gain experience with entrepreneurship. Don't miss this unique and insightful interview!
41 minutes | Oct 18, 2021
How This PhD Invests According to Her Personality
In this episode, Emily interviews Dr. Natalia Bielczyk, a PhD-turned-solopreneur who helps researchers step into fulfilling careers outside of academia. Natalia started investing in a variety of sectors during her PhD training, finding success in some areas and disaster in others. She shares her hard-won lessons into how to invest according to your individual personality and not be influenced by marketers and trends. Natalia emphasizes the importance of building financial stability prior to starting to apply for jobs and presents a unique framework for choosing among post-PhD career and financial priorities.
59 minutes | Oct 11, 2021
The Process Behind Landing a Dream Job with a Jaw-Dropping Salary
In this episode, Emily interviews My-Linh Luong, a PhD candidate in physiotherapy at the University of Melbourne in Australia. My-Linh is at the all but dissertation stage of her PhD and recently accepted a dream job with a dream salary. She tells the story of how she prepared for and executed her job search, which involved an amazing degree of intentionality during her years in grad school, including plumbing her values, working on her mindset, and utilizing professional development resources. My-Linh's job search took about a year and a half, and she shares how she stayed motivated and hopeful throughout the long process. She even shares some specific scripts regarding salary negotiation. Prepare to take notes or at least be ready to hit rewind to catch all of the gold nuggets My-Linh gives in this interview.
40 minutes | Oct 4, 2021
This Grad Student Is Riding the Meme Stocks and Crypto Roller Coasters
In this episode, Emily interviews Cara Davidson, a graduate student at Western University. Cara has a "tumultuous" income from assistantships, scholarships, and freelance writing, and she built up a considerable nest egg thanks to diligently tracking her spending. She started investing in January 2021 in mutual funds and also meme stocks and crypto. Cara details her investing motivation, philosophy, and sources, shares how much mental bandwidth she devotes to her positions, and gives great advice for anyone already invested in or considering investing in meme stocks and crypto.
36 minutes | Sep 27, 2021
This Grad Student Eliminated Her Housing Expense to Pay Off Her Student Loans
In this episode, Emily interviews Dr. Erika Moore Taylor, an assistant professor at the University of Florida and the founder of Moore Wealth. When Erika started her PhD at Duke, she had $65,000 of student loan debt, which she committed to paying off before her graduation. One of the strategies she used that made the biggest impact was to serve as a resident advisor, thereby eliminating her housing expense. Erika shares how her money mindset fueled her motivation to achieve her debt repayment goal and how she is now pursuing FIRE.
35 minutes | Sep 20, 2021
The Financial Upside to Leaving Academia
In this episode, Emily interviews Dr. Chris Caterine, the author of Leaving Academia: A Practical Guide. Chris holds a PhD in classics and worked as a visiting assistant professor before transitioning into a career in the private sector. Leaving Academia addresses the necessary identity shift and practical steps that accompany this process and grew out of the informational interviews Chris conducted. Emily and Chris discuss the financial pressures that motivated Chris to shift to a non-academic career and how to financially prepare for that change. They also discuss the role side hustles and volunteer experiences can play in helping you land a non-academic job. This episode is a must-listen for anyone currently in PhD training or working in academia!
22 minutes | Sep 13, 2021
How to Establish and Improve Your Credit as a Graduate Student or PhD
In this episode, Emily explores the topic of credit: what is it, why it matters, how to establish it, how to improve it, and when you can stop thinking about it so much. Near the end, she also reveals the biggest credit killer that she sees among the PhD community and how to overcome it. As ever, the content is tailored to the PhD experience of finances in the US, including that of international students, postdocs, and workers.
36 minutes | Sep 6, 2021
Entering a PhD Program with Significant Debt and Investments
In this episode, Emily interviews Alexandra Savinkina, who is starting a PhD program at Yale University after completing a master's degree and working for several years. She has spent the last few years pursuing Public Service Loan Forgiveness while contributing to retirement accounts and saving and is therefore entering her PhD with significant student loan debt and significant assets. Alexandra and Emily discuss Alexandra's financial goals during her PhD, including how much to spend on rent, financing a car vs. purchasing it with cash, whether to defer student loans or stay in an income-driven repayment plan, and how to continue to invest for retirement while in grad school.
45 minutes | Aug 30, 2021
How This Non-Budgeting PhD Accomplishes Major Financial Goals
In this episode, Emily interviews Dr. Alana Rister, a PhD in chemistry and the founder of the Science Grad School Coach. Alana and Emily discuss two major aspects of Alana's finances from grad school and her postdoc: student loans and a condo purchase. Alana's main financial goal during grad school was paying down her variable interest rate private student loans, and the strategies she used will be very accessible to grad students who, like her, don't budget. Alana and her partner took a gamble in purchasing a condo when they moved for her postdoc, and then sold it less than a year later when she left that position. Listen through to the end of the interview to learn the connection between that condo purchase and the Science Grad School Coach!
33 minutes | Aug 23, 2021
This Start-Up Centers Graduate Students and Pays Them Handsomely
In this episode, Emily interviews Jin Chow, a graduate student at Stanford, and Stephen Weber, a graduate student at the University of Georgia. Jin is the co-founder of Polygence, a start-up that facilitates graduate students and PhDs remotely mentoring high school students one-on-one through well-defined research projects. Stephen has mentored five students and speaks to the advantages of Polygence as a flexible and lucrative side hustle. We discuss whether and how to tell your PhD advisor about a side hustle, and who is or is not a good fit for becoming a mentor with Polygence. Jin also briefly shares the story of how she co-founded Polygence as a graduate student on an F-1 visa. If you're looking for a side hustle that's convenient to balance with your graduate work, check out Polygence: they are hiring mentors now!
19 minutes | Aug 16, 2021
What to Do at the Start of the Academic Year to Make Next Tax Season Easier
In this episode, Emily teaches what various types of PhD trainees can do at the start of the academic year to make next tax season go more smoothly. She covers tracking qualified education expenses, quarterly estimated tax, the Kiddie Tax, and state residency. Please consider sharing this episode on social media or with an email list-serv so your peers have access to this information as well!
39 minutes | Aug 9, 2021
How This Grad Student Plans to Contribute to His Roth IRA Using 529 Money
In this episode, Emily interviews Ben Wills, who is starting a master's of science at Georgia Tech at age 29. They discuss the interesting jobs and experiences that Ben had in his 20s and why he is now pursuing a graduate degree. Ben's main financial goals for graduate school are to not accumulate any debt and to max out his Roth IRA each year, and he shares how those goals align with his values. Ben and Emily discuss how to remove money from Ben's 529 account without penalty to supplement his stipend and keep him on track to reach his financial goals while living in Atlanta.
46 minutes | Jul 26, 2021
How This JD/PhD Overcame Money Terror and Avoidance
In this episode, Emily interviews Dr. Michelle Thompson, who has had multiple careers as a lawyer, an adjunct, and now a coach and business owner. Michelle observed her mother's terror and her father's avoidance regarding money and combined the two in her own adulthood. Emily and Michelle discuss the financial struggle of earning a low stipend as a graduate student in NYC and taking on student debt for summer research and daycare/preschool. It wasn't until Michelle started her business that she proactively changed her relationship with money through a book and coaching. Michelle speaks to the merits of facing the dark side of your relationship with money; she is now in the best financial shape of her life.
43 minutes | Jul 12, 2021
This PhD’s Money Mindset from Childhood Has Served Her Well Through Multiple Phases
In this episode, Emily interviews Dr. Judy Chan, a PhD and staff member at the University of British Columbia. As a child of immigrants to Canada, Judy learned early on the virtues of hard work, saving, and the value of a dollar. She applied these principles consistently while she earned her PhD, started her business, and became a parent—to great effect.
46 minutes | Jun 28, 2021
How to Eat Well on a Grad Student Budget
In this episode, Emily interviews Jen from the Budget Epicurean (formerly College-Approved Food) about her experience as a grad student. Jen finished a master's and spent several years in a PhD program, but decided to leave before completing her dissertation. They discuss her reasons for leaving and the career she built and what role finances played in the decision. In the second half of the interview, Jen gives her best tips for eating well on a grad student budget, including curating go-to meals and ingredients, where to shop, how to track prices, and what kitchen appliances are the best bang for your buck.
50 minutes | Jun 14, 2021
Pursuing Your Passion in a Financially Healthy Manner
This episode is a podcast swap! Emily's guest is Dr. Stephanie Schuttler of Fancy Scientist. Emily and Stephanie interview one another on the financial challenges of a career in wildlife biology and how to pursue your passion while preserving financial balance and health. They discuss the necessity and prevalence of volunteer and pay-to-play experiences in wildlife biology and how to have realistic expectations about the job availability and compensation at various levels of education. Stephanie is an expert in careers in wildlife biology, but this conversation is applicable to PhDs who are following their passions into many other competitive fields.
36 minutes | May 31, 2021
Where PhD Candidates Are Full-Time Employees with Benefits
In this episode, Emily interviews Dr. Veronika Cheplygina about the differences between how universities in the Netherlands and the US financially support their PhD students. In the Netherlands, PhD candidates (beyond the master's level) are full-time employees under a 4-year contract that specifies their pay and benefits. It's a secure position with only slightly lower pay than other types of positions. Veronika explains the financial and psychological benefits of this system and describes her lifestyle while she completed her PhD, which included purchasing a home. Prospective PhD students who are interested in doing their PhDs in the Netherlands should listen through to the end of the episode for application advice.
50 minutes | May 17, 2021
How to Financially Transition to Grad School as an Underprivileged Student
In this episode, Emily interviews Rutendo Chabikwa, a first-year PhD student from Zimbabwe at the University of Oxford and the host of the podcast So, You Got A Scholarship? The topic is the financial aspects of transitioning to graduate school. Emily and Rutendo list start-up costs, explore the financial "hidden curriculum" of grad school, and discuss financial habits to establish and how to do so. This episode has a particular focus on underprivileged and/or international students.
15 minutes | May 14, 2021
Can I Qualify for a Mortgage with a Short-Term Fellowship or on an F-1 Visa?
In this episode, Emily shares a few clips from the first-time homebuyer Q&A that she hosted with Sam Hogan on May 6, 2021. Sam is a mortgage originator with Prime Lending specializing in graduate students and PhDs, an advertiser with Personal Finance for PhDs, and Emily's brother. The first pair of questions is on whether having three years left on your fellowship offer is required to get a mortgage. The second pair of questions is on qualifying for a mortgage if you're on an F-1 visa. These questions are among the most common that Sam receives.
60 minutes | May 3, 2021
How Two PhDs Bought Their First Home in a HCOL Area in 2021
In this episode, Emily recounts her and her husband's home ownership journey, what she's learned along the way about buying a home, and what she wishes they had done differently. The episode is structured around the necessary elements in your life and finances to qualify for a mortgage and purchase a home: 1) desire to buy a home, 2) income, 3) debt-to-income ratio, 4) credit score, 5) down payment and closing costs, and 6) someone willing to sell you a home. In each section, Emily speaks about the element generally and takes you through their own history to show you how all these elements finally came together in 2021 to enable the purchase of their first home.
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