Why bother ?

Lets start at the very beginning. Why do I think its important that Ph.D students and fresh graduates start paying attention to personal finance ? After all, most Ph.D students get into the Ph.D program knowing full well that a Ph.D is not necessarily the best or the easiest or even the guanteed means to financial prosperity. (Others, sadly, learn this after they are well into the program.) Many are committed to their research with buddhist monk-like dedication and just dont care about financial matters. Others dont want to be bothered by these trivialities and live with their head in the sand. So why bother preaching personal finance to an audience that is possibly the least interested group of people on earth ?

Well, lets have a little exercise to figure that out. I have here a list of questions - try and answer them as honestly as you can
1) Have you ever in your life wished you had a little more money to give you that extra wiggle room ?
2) Have you ever wished you did not have to worry where (or when) your next paycheck came from ?
3) Do you think 30 years down the line you will still feel the same detachment from money ? or the same passion for your work ? Is there even a small chance that you might want to kick back and take it a little easy ? Retire fully or partially to a less demanding/stressful life ? Have the freedom to persue your other (possibly yet undiscovered) passions ?
4) Do you already have, or plan to have a family ? Are you sure your family is content with you current lifestyle and continue to be so, over the years to come ? Do you wish you could provide a more comfortable lifestyle for them ?

Attitudes towards money vary a lot from person to person. Different people have different needs. Whatever your position is in this spectrum, your answers to above questions must have made you realise that money, at the very least, is an enabler that lets you live life a little more on your terms. The more your financial freedom, the better the quality of life. Financial freedom does not necessarily mean that you should be rich. However, it does mean that you are in control of your situation. Instead of worrying where your next paycheck comes from, you know it. Instead of wondering if you can afford to change track 10 years down the line if you want to, you prepare for it financially. Instead of wondering if you will EVER be able to retire, you know exactly when you can pull back partially or fully. You plan for your financial life like you would a dissertation. You know there is a set goal and a set time to reach it. And then you work towards it.

By now, you must have realised - this blog is not about get-rich-quick schemes or the hottest online deals or the sure-bet stock tips. We may discuss those from time to time as means to the goal, but the chief objective is to develop an awareness that financial planning is important irrespective of what your financial goals are. We will focus on creating curiosity and interest in matters related to personal finance. We will work together on developing habits and attitudes towards money, that will in the long run, take us to that comfort zone some people call "financial freedom".

That takes us to the next likely question, why now ? If you are a Ph.D student, you might ask, "Why not wait until I finish the Ph.D, get that 100K job and then start ?" If you are a fresh grad, you might say, "I have spent a lot of time scrounging as a student, why not enjoy the riches for a few years and then start ?" Read on, my friends, read on. We have a lot to discover.

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