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Personal Finance Interview with Golbguru of Money, Matter, and More Musings

Mint’s Note: Golbguru’s Money, Matter, and More Musings is a can’t-miss, daily updated personal finance blog. You will find popular post such as Extreme Frugality: Growing Tomatoes in a Bra (pictured below). Read on to find out more about Golbguru and his thoughts on personal finance!

 

Name: Golbguru
Age: 25~30
Net-worth Range: 20K-50K
Profession: Graduate Student – that’s hardly a profession, but that’s what I do full time (for now).
Websites: Money, Matter, and More Musings

Current Financial Strategy:

Save-Save-Save. I try to keep my financial life simple. Generally, most financial transactions are a “returns vs. headache” deals for me and at times, I tend to minimize headache rather than maximize returns. I used to budget our finances to the penny, but of late, I have realized that such micromanagement tends to harm productivity (at least in my case) so I don’t do that any more.

Of course, I spend less than I earn. But that’s not a strategy, it’s a way of life. ๐Ÿ™‚

Best Financial Tip:

Keep an open mind towards financial ideas. Don’t bias against (or in favor of) a certain idea without thoroughly analyzing it. Always take financial advice with a grain of salt…whether it comes from the guy next door or the latest financial guru.

Worst Financial Move Ever:

The first ever investment in my life was in WorldCom not long before it crashed ! Enough said. ๐Ÿ™‚

Financially, I need help with:

Taxes. Our taxes are getting a bit complicated (by the virtue of different filing statuses for me and my wife, and for other reasons that I won’t mention here). I don’t think I have fully understood how to maximize our tax returns yet – but I will get there.

As a graduate student, what are some financial challenges you face?

Fortunately, throughout my graduate studies, I have always been supported on research (or teaching) grants and hence there haven’t been many financially challenging situations yet. However, the source of income is not steady – things vary every semester (for example, in our university, a grad student can lose his/her teaching assistantship if less than 30 students register for that particular class; or someone can lose a research assistantship if the funds from the funding agency do not arrive on time). Such situations make it necessary to have reliable contingency financial plans in place.

Another indirect financial challenge is the academic stress due homeworks, exams, teaching workload, research progress pressure, and such. Most of the times, such stress causes financial matters to take a back seat, which subsequently results in “Oops! forgot to pay my bills (or rent)” and other similar situations.

Do you have any suggestions to other graduate students regarding finances?

As far as possible, try not to spend your own money on graduate studies. There are a lot of financial opportunities (more than what are available for undergraduate studies), and you should attempt to avail as many as possible. Academic pressure can cause you to neglect your financial responsibilities ~ to counter that, it helps to be financially organized ~ use things like automatic bill pays, etc., and put your financial life on an autopilot.

Also, read a good personal finance blog once in a while.

You have been blogging about personal finance for almost a year now, still enjoying it? How long do you think youโ€™ll continue to blog about personal finance?

Yeah still enjoying it. I will continue as long as continue to learn more things out of the activity (which just might be forever). However, blogging is not my profession, so a more practical answer would be “as long as it’s possible to continue blogging within the available resources of time and money”

When I tell people I blog about personal finance, they give me a weird look. Is there a specific reason why you started to blog about โ€œmoney, personal finance, frugality, and debt?โ€

There is no specific reason; it’s just that those are the general topics I connect with (at present). I am sure, as time progresses, topics like – taxes, retirement, investment, etc., will come into picture.

A more rational reason to write a blog about finances is that no one is going to take me seriously in real life as far as personal finance is concerned. It’s like you mention in the question – people give me weird look if I even mention money in real life. So I let it out in the form of blogging. ๐Ÿ™‚

Hereโ€™s a question that may get you into some trouble depending on the way you answer. What do you think about the personal finance blogging community?

When I started blogging, I used to think that it’s a very close knit community and newcomers are not welcome. However, as time progressed, I realized that it was just a misconception. Honestly, I have met better people in this community than I have met in real life. Seriously, people are not that supportive (and/or open) in the real world. Probably, it’s easier being nice in the virtual world than in the real world, but I would rather not think that way. So, to summarize it, I don’t have any complaints about the personal finance blogging community and I am proud to be a part of it.

What personal finance tools do you currently use to track and manage your money?

I have been using Yodlee for about 6~8 months now and I have been exceedingly happy with it (so far).

What are the problems in your personal finance tools?

Occasional mis-characterization of expenses and lack of multi-parameter login security are some of the not-so-minor issues. I won’t term them as problems, but I would like to see some improvements in these areas.

How would your ideal personal finance tool work?

It should work like Yodlee – plus, it should allow me access to my credit score and warn me about changes to my credit file. That way I will have all the information I want through just one portal. Right now, all of Yodlee’s security is managed by a single password as an authentication factor ~ an ideal finance tool should have multiple authentication factors, so that if one of them breaks down, the critical parts of my financial data would still be secure.

Ideally, it should also guarantee my accounts against fraud.

Now all this will not come free and I am willing to shell a few bucks, if it gives me additional peace of mind.

What more do you want to know about your personal finances?

I thought hard about this, but I don’t have anything to write here. I think I know pretty much everything. Probably there are things I want to know, but they are obviously not very important because they can’t readily recall them.

How much do you think you currently spend on eating out?

Varies. More around crunch time (semester ends). On an average, I would say about $80 (for both me and my wife combined).

How often do you want to know about your personal finances?

Everyday!

What is in my wallet?

OK, this is a tough one. I usually don’t carry any cash (absolutely none whatsoever); and today is no different — as reflected by the picture of my wallet. Thanks to this question, I think it’s time to clean my wallet. ๐Ÿ™‚ Seriously, I can’t believe all that stuff came out of my wallet.