In this episode, Emily interviews Dr. Kate Mielitz, an assistant professor at Oklahoma State University who holds a PhD in financial planning and is an Accredited Financial Counselor. Kate gives her top three financial tips for early-career PhDs: celebrating financial wins, no matter how small they are; asking questions regarding your pay and benefits; and saving in advance so you can say “yes” to networking opportunities, from a meal or drink with a colleague to conferences. Kate also tells the story of a recent financial challenge she encountered that is highly relatable to anyone in academia. Due to her preparation, what could have easily been a financial disaster became just a hiccup.
Links Mentioned in This Episode
- Find Dr. Kate Mielitz on Twitter or Instagram
- Website: Association of Financial Counseling & Planning Education
- Podcast Episode: Fellowship Income Is Now Eligible to Be Contributed to an IRA
- Personal Finance for PhDs: Sign up for personal finance coaching
- Personal Finance for PhDs: Tax Center
- Personal Finance for PhDs: Podcast Hub
- Personal Finance for PhDs: Subscribe to the mailing list
00:00 Kate: It is okay to make a financial mistake. I want that very, very clear right now. We are human. It is only money. Yes, you heard it from me. It is only money. How do we use it? It’s the tool that we’re using like the hammer or the screwdriver. If you make a mistake, you pick yourself back up, you carry on, you figure it out. What’s the mistake? You ask the questions of yourself and figure out where you went wrong. You figure out where you need help going forward, and you take proactive steps. You’re going to be okay.
00:43 Emily: Welcome to the Personal Finance for PhDs podcast, higher education in personal finance. I’m your host, Dr. Emily Roberts. This is season five, episode five and today my guest is Dr. Kate Mielitz, an assistant professor at Oklahoma State University who holds a PhD in financial planning and is an accredited financial counselor. Kate and I discussed the top three financial strategies early career PhDs should employ: celebrating financial wins, no matter how small, asking questions about your pay and benefits, and planning to spend money on networking. Kate also shares her recent and pretty big financial mistake, which will be highly relatable to anyone in academia, and how she weathered it. Without further ado, here’s my interview with Dr. Kate Mielitz.
01:34 Emily: I am just delighted to have joining me on the podcast today, Dr. Kate Mielitz, who is an assistant professor at Oklahoma State University and an accredited financial counselor. So we have an expert on the show with us today, for once. It’s wonderful. Please introduce yourself to the audience. Tell us a little bit more about how you got where you are and what you do.
01:55 Kate: Yes. Thank you so much Emily for having me on. This is a thrill for me. Let me give you the deep background first. I have 20 years combined experience, a bit little more than that, in collections, bankruptcy, fraud, financial counseling and education. I’ve been an accredited financial counselor for a little over 10 years. And the accredited financial counselor can be associated with and compared to the certified financial planning designation. The accredited financial counselor focuses on some of those foundational pieces, like, do you know how to budget? Do you know how to save? Do you have enough insurance? Do you know how to appropriately use credit? Whereas the CFPs look at wealth growth and wealth management. So my area of expertise is helping people get a solid financial foundation that works for them, that’s specific to them and their financial situation. Then I have my PhD in personal financial planning from Kansas State University and I work in the family financial planning program in the department of family development and family science at the Oklahoma State University.
03:06 Emily: Yeah. And again, it’s such a pleasure to have you on today, Kate. So, because you are an accredited financial counselor and a PhD in this area, and again, an expert, I am basically going to turn the reins over to you and let you direct where you want this to go. I asked you to give me your top three financial strategies that early career PhDs should be using. Let’s talk through those.
Financial Strategy #1: Celebrate Financial Wins
03:28 Kate: First, I want you to remember before I give these three strategies that it’s always dangerous to give me this much leeway, Emily, so thank you for that. But remember that no matter what I say, you need to be true to you. So ground this in your financial reality. And when I say for example, with my first strategy, always celebrate the progress forward that you make on your savings goals no matter how small, I mean that quite literally. If that means that for one month to the next, that all you can get in that savings account is an extra penny — celebrate it. It’s the small victories that then help us get into the bigger victories. Do we want to focus on just putting pennies, nickels, and dimes in savings? Not if we can avoid it, but when we are early career, when we are in graduate school and coming into postdoc and coming right up, it’s not always easy. Finding a way to commit to savings and then doing it always celebrating those small successes is so very, very important.
04:29 Emily: Yeah. I’d love for you to elaborate on the point you were just making about how, okay, even if it’s just a penny, it’s still worthwhile. It’s still something to celebrate. Even if the dollar $10 a hundred dollars, whatever scale we are at, it’s worthwhile doing. And can you talk a little bit about the reasoning behind that? Like why it’s worthwhile to save even if it’s just a few dollars? Because some of my audience members, it can only be a few dollars, if anything.
04:53 Kate: I have so been in those shoes. We could go forever on this, Emily. The fact of the matter is, any teeny tiny amount that you can put forward is still a teeny tiny amount that you’ve put forward. I have worked with families who are experiencing homelessness, who are out of work or supporting a family on minimum wage. So I get working with small amounts and the reason that we focus on the small amounts is because those are bite size. How do we eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Therefore we save a penny, a nickel, a dime, a quarter, a few bucks at a time to make that small progress. So then we’re more conscious about it. The more we’re thinking, “Oh, you know what, this is 34 cents that I got back in change — I’m going to put that in my savings account.” And then the next time, “Oh, this is 56 cents, I’m going to put that in my savings account.” Maybe we can’t do it every time, but as we think about these pennies, whether we collect in a change jar or it’s just, “okay, I made progress,” it’s gonna stick in there and we’re going have these little tickle reminders that it’s like, “well, I was successful. I was successful before. I can be successful this month.” And we’re not focusing on, “Oh my God, I only put 20 bucks in savings. I should just give up now.” Never give up! These teeny tiny amounts add up. Americans throw away billions of pennies a year. I mean, it’s mind blowing. So stop and think about what you can put forward.
Kate: One real quick caveat I wanted to share with you, Emily, on this idea. I remember watching an old Family Feud episode and the host asked, “we surveyed a hundred people on the street, what is the smallest dollar amount you would dive back in the trashcan to retrieve?” I was blown away that the number one answer was a $10 bill. I mean, I was like, are you kidding me? I have gone for 26 cents and I’ll do it because to me those small things make a difference. And I mean, whatever happened to the $1 bill and the $5 bill? Those, those are very valuable, as our quarters and dimes and nickels and pennies. So start small, save small, build as you can and you can do it. So celebrate that small progress.
07:11 Emily: Yes. Oh my gosh, I love this point so much. And one thing I wanted to add to what you’re saying is, one of the most valuable things that I think, and this is I think another rephrasing what you’re saying, of it sticks in your head when you start saving, you know, rounding up to the next dollar, whatever it is. I think what most important thing that it does is it changes your self identity to one of “I am a saver.”
07:32 Kate: Oh yeah, absolutely.
07:33 Emily: Doesn’t matter what the amount is. If you become a saver in your own mind, that’s what’s going to create that habit change that carries into the future when the dollar amounts can be bigger. But you have to start with that identity change. And the best way of doing that is to actually enact savings. Even if it is that small amount.
07:52 Kate: You’ve nailed it, Emily. I mean that’s it. It’s really about phrasing it. When you got your first published article, even if you were fourth or fifth author, didn’t you then say, I’m a published author? Well, yeah, the same thing goes. I’m a graduate student, I’m a successful graduate student. Oh my gosh. I’ve landed my first job. I’m a postdoc, I’m an assistant professor. Own these things. And yes, even if it’s pennies, you are a saver. So now let’s keep going. Absolutely.
08:22 Emily: Yeah. And going back to your original point of celebrate — what are some ways that you can celebrate without spending the 34 cents that you just saved?
08:31 Kate: Absolutely. Well, it’s kind of like weight loss. They say never celebrate weight loss by going out to eat. So we’re not going to celebrate saving by spending, but we’re going to maybe, and this is so key, especially for graduate students in early careers, but give ourselves permission to just kick it. Give ourselves permission to sit back and worry about the hustle, not worry about the side hustle, it exists, and just breathe. Whether that means taking an hour for ourselves and watching an extra show, or that means potluck in with a friend. You already have the food in the, in the cabinet. So let’s have somebody over. They bring a piece, you bring a piece. Nobody’s really out of pocket. Talking about it with friends. Call Emily, send her a message, send me a message. Say, “Hey, listen, I did it!” Celebrate those small things. Tell your mom and your dad. Sometimes it’s just a matter of not physically doing something, but just acknowledging it. Looking at yourself in the mirror and say, dude, you saved. That’s empowering and it’s exciting and it is a way celebrate.
09:41 Emily: Yeah, absolutely. So I think the word celebration maybe can be boiled down to just acknowledgement in some positive way. It could be as small as that or it can be bigger, if you have the means and the time to do so. But the key is do something that’s out of your routine to acknowledge that you accomplished something because you really did.
10:00 Kate: That’s right.
Financial Strategy #2: Ask Questions About Your Finances
10:01 Emily: Okay, let’s move on to your second strategy.
10:04 Kate: Second strategy: ask questions about money. Now, if you are in graduate school and you don’t have access, for example, to a retirement plan, maybe it’s not human resources that you’re going to. If you’re early career definitely be seeking out human resources to ask questions about your insurance plan or your retirement plan and what those things mean. But don’t ever think that you have a question that is too small or too easy or so-and-so is going to think I’m an idiot if I asked this. Listen, Emily and I would not be doing what we are doing if any question were too basic or too small. That’s how we thrive, right? Emily?
10:46 Emily: Exactly.
10:47 Kate: So if you don’t know who to ask, reach out to Emily, reach out to me. We are more than happy to answer any financial question you have because it is your financial health that you need to be focused on. So what resources? No, we’re not going to rescue. Absolutely not. But we’ll get you a list of resources. We’ll point you in the right direction. Sometimes it’s just as simple as, well does this mean that they’re going to match this and that’s a yes or no. So ask the questions and never be scared that “Oh, I’m a graduate student or I’m a PhD, I should know this.” No, not necessarily. That’s why they give PhDs in personal financial planning because other people don’t know. So that’s what I’ve got mine.
11:29 Emily: Yeah. I’ll say especially for, so obviously anyone who is an employee anywhere, you’re going to have an HR department or an HR person, or something. I say person because my husband works for a startup and they do not have an HR department, but they have a person, part of whose job is to handle this kind of thing. So there is someone, if you are an employee, who you can ask questions about the benefits that you’re receiving or even something as simple as, and this is a big question that we’ll get into later, “Hey, when’s my next paycheck coming? What amount is it going to be in?” Those, those are not even trivial questions for, let’s say a graduate student or a postdoc who’s changing how they’re being paid from this system to this system, et cetera. Things can fall through the cracks. It is very worthwhile to keep on top of these questions.
Emily: If it’s not an HR person who’s available to you, go to someone in your department, like the administrative assistant for the graduate program that you’re in or there is someone there. Even if they can’t help you with the question directly, they’re going to be able to point you to the next step. Definitely keep asking questions at your institution until you get the answers that you need around your benefits. And like Kate was just saying, you can go to outside people like me and like her if you have non institution specific questions. One I get all the time is “am I eligible to contribute to an IRA?” I can answer that question for you if you give me a few details about you know, how you’re being paid.
Financial Strategy #3: Plan to Spend on Networking
12:47 Emily: Now, what’s the third third strategy?
12:49 Kate: The third strategy is to plan to spend money networking. We talk a lot about planning to pay our rent. We talk about planning to pay our car payment or our car insurance, but we don’t always talk about planning to spend money socially. And, no, I’m not talking about going and kicking it with the girls or the guys after work, but that can sometimes be a networking tool. But I’m talking about really digging in and you know, once a month, every couple of weeks, having that networking lunch. Who is somebody that you met at an orientation or somebody who your major professor introduced you to, or somebody who you happen to find out via a Google Scholar search has the same area of interest as you in research, but it’s across campus in a whole different department. Reach out, invite that person to lunch. You can go splits down the middle, you can pay, you can switch off and pay as you go, but plan to spend that money. Because the old adage is that it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. But truly it’s what you know and who you know, you’ve got to have both pieces in there and that is so insanely true in academia. It’s what you know and who you know.
14:02 Emily: I think it’s really, really smart, as you’re bringing this up, just to acknowledge that first of all, networking is an important part of career development at every single stage. Never think that you’re too early on to start networking. You are a person worthy of knowing and you should introduce yourself to other people. So plan for it at every single stage of your career and just acknowledge in advance that you’re going to have opportunities come your way and you want to be able to say yes to them immediately without being concerned about where’s that money going to come from? You want to be able to accept a lunch invitation when you’re not really sure if you’re going to end up paying or the other person will, or you want to be able to accept taking a few hours drive to another institution to do a meeting. Anything like that, where you might end up being financially are responsible for, you don’t want to have to say no to that because you’re not prepared. So I really love the idea, and tell me what you think about this Kate, of having, so I’m really into targeted savings accounts or sinking funds, so having a sinking fund or target saving account that’s labeled networking and there’s enough money in there for whatever you think might come your way.
15:08 Kate: You know Emily, I was just thinking in my head, “Oh, I want to make sure that I talk about the budget sheet that I use.” Whether you call it budgeting or spending plan or targeted savings. The fact of the matter is you’ve got to have a plan for those dollars and cents and yes, having that emergency savings — I’m going to remind you, emergency savings comes first — but then secondary to that, what else do you need to have that money set aside for. On our budget sheets, I tell people all the time, I tell my students, I tell my clients, I remind co-counselors all the time — it’s not my money, it’s your money. So what is your plan for it? Where do you intend to spend it? And write it down. If I’m going to spend a $500 a month on entertainment, which I don’t do, but if I was going to spend $500 a month on entertainment, as long as my budget is balanced and I have the dollars and cents to do that, I can do it.
15:58 Kate: Now, when we’re talking about planned networking and we’re talking about spending money consciously to do this, I’m not talking 50 bucks a month. I’m talking maybe as little as $20. But like you said, Emily, maybe it’s a few hours drive to another institution. Or maybe we’re talking about a conference. It’s really big in our industry, and so we’ve got to take the time to find the money. Now it can be very difficult to do on small salaries so seeking out what funding is available through my department, what grant funding, what fellowship, what scholarship monies might be available. Ask. Even if you, graduated, you’re in your first position as an assistant professor or you’re a postdoc, don’t think that that precludes you from opportunities to get assistance to travel. Ask. Worst case scenario, the answer is no, we got nothing. Okay. At least you know, and then going forward you can put those dollars and cents away toward that. But I’m still going to say try and keep that $20 in your pocket so that if you get the opportunity to say, “Hey, let’s go grab a Coke” or “let’s go grab, you know, a quick bite to eat and talk this through,” you’ve got it. It’s not always easy to do, so please do not hesitate to ask a qualified professional for help. How do I put this budget together on these teeny tiny little pennies that I am paid? And there are resources available to help you do just that.
17:23 Emily: Absolutely.
17:28 Emily: Emily here for a brief interlude. Tax season is upon us and while no one loves this time of year, it’s particularly difficult for post-bac fellows, funded grad students, and postdoc fellows. Even professional tax preparers are often thrown for a loop by our unique tax situation. And don’t get me started on tax software. I provide tons of support at this time of year for PhD trainees preparing their tax returns. From free articles and videos, to paid at-your-own-pace workshops, to live seminars and webinars for universities and research institutes. The best place to go to check out all of this material is pfforphds.com/tax that’s P F F O R P H D dot com slash T A X. Don’t struggle through tax season on your own. Visit my website for the exact information you need in the most efficient form available. Now back to the interview.
Saving tips for larger networking events
18:38 Emily: One thing I just wanted to follow up on about the conference travel, because now we’re not talking about a $20 lunch, right? We’re talking about potentially thousands of dollars, between fees and travel and the lodging and all of that. So of course, totally want to underline, ask and ask and ask if there’s any money available from the sponsoring organization, from your department, from your university, from anywhere you get funding, outside scholarships you can apply for. There’s many different potential sources of funding for travel awards. That’s something we’ve covered on the podcast in the past. But I want to say that in some fields, the money is less prevalent, right? And so in some fields you may be able to say, “Oh, of course I’ll be able to find funding for that conference.” And maybe you can keep, you know, just a smaller amount of money available for your incidental expenses while you travel. But in some fields you may know, “well, I may get funding once or twice during my PhD, but really I should be attending a conference every year.” Then, it’s a scary thing, but you just need to acknowledge that that is going to come up at some point and start preparing for it.
Emily: Because the thing is, I think what happens with a lot of people with conference travel is that they end up just with a reaction to it. They act retrospectively instead of proactively about it. If you put a conference on a credit card and it’s $2,000, whatever, you’re gonna end up paying that over months or years and with interest and you may as well flip that around and pay it upfront into your savings over months and years and be gaining interest instead of losing interest. You’re going to end up paying for it slowly over time either way, if it has to come out of pocket and you can’t get it paid for, so just do it upfront instead of on the backend and you’ll come out much further ahead financially. I just hate it when I hear about students who have to forego these really wonderful conferences or networking opportunities because they can’t find the funding, they don’t have the money saved. And it can be a real blow to your career potentially. So it’s just something that’s worth building into your budget, as you were just talking about, early on, you know, from the beginning.
20:36 Kate: And let me, if you don’t mind Emily, I’d like to follow up on, on the comment you made with the credit card. Credit cards are amazing tools when used appropriately. We’re not going to use a hammer to put in a screw, we’re not going to use a credit card to finance everything. But if you know that you can utilize some points off that credit card and/or, emphasis on the and, you can pay that off, say for example, six months from now I will have this conference paid off rather than just making the minimum payment, but you can pay twice or three times the minimum payment, even if you can’t front load the conference because you found out about it last minute, or Oh my gosh, I never thought about it this way and I’m coming up on it. Don’t be afraid to use the credit card as a tool, but I just want you to be careful and I want you to be conscious and I don’t want you to think about, “Oh, it’s okay, I’ll carry a minimum balance for the next however long.” No, no, no. Go into it with the forethought to say, “all right, I’m going to pay this off in six to 10 months. This is how I’m going to do it. And at the same time, I’m going to be saving for next year’s conference.” Again, you are not walking this path alone. You have resources. Ask, ask, ask, ask, and you will get answers and you will find help to help you make these decisions and figure out how you’re going to use these dollars.
22:04 Emily: Absolutely. I feel I have to at this point put in a bid for my own services, which I do offer one-on-one money coaching. And so if you, one of the listening audience members, wants to work with me on these kinds of issues around budgeting or around paying off debt or investing for the future or whatever it might be, please contact me and I will be happy to, you know, have a short call with you to talk more about that. You can find more details about that in the show notes. And Kate, I don’t know if you offer individual services at this point or if you are, uh, you know, strictly in your academic role.
22:37 Kate: I do offer services. You can find, contact information for me and other professionals like me at afcpe.org and you can just search, find a counselor. I think it’s either find a financial counselor or find a financial professional in your area. I happen to be in Oklahoma, but there are many of us throughout the country who work specifically with students, graduate students, postdoc, early career, the broke, the wealthy, across the gamut. So we are available afcpe.org.
23:09 Emily: What I love about that AFCP database, and also if you wanted to search for a CFP, similarly, is that the professionals identify themselves by their areas of expertise or types of people that they prefer to work with. And so for example, for me, I’m not an AFC, but I specialize in graduate students, postdocs and early career PhDs. So probably anyone listening, your,within my area of specialty. But let’s say you had a different situation like you are in the military or your spouse is in the military, or you’re dealing with maybe an inheritance due to the death of a parent or you know, there are all these other special situations that might come up that maybe that’s your primary identification, not as a graduate student or postdoc, and maybe in some other area. That’s what I love about these databases that you can really search and find who is looking for…you are someone’s perfect client, right? And you can try to find that person through one of these databases. Thanks for adding that a resource, Kate, and that’ll be in the show notes as well.
How a AFC Deals With Financial Challenges
24:05 Emily: Okay. I think we’re ready to talk about your financial challenge that you have had recently due to your academic position. This will be very relatable to many people in the audience.
24:15 Kate: Okay, so let me lay it out really quick. Miscommunication is what this boils down to. Misunderstanding. Me, even as a financial professional, not asking the right question. Not full information being passed down the pipeline. So I wanted on the board, nobody is at fault here, but if somebody has to take it, it’s probably me. I didn’t ask the right questions, didn’t think about it the right way. But what happened is this: I have a nine month contract and I wanted to get paid over 12 months from the start, but because of when I did my onboarding paperwork, I couldn’t do it, I had to wait until the next spring. Well, the way I understood it was that when I did my 12 month pay, my pay would become effective July 1st, the new fiscal year of this year. Well, I knew that I was going to be out pay for about a month, but it turns out that that’s not what the actual situation was. Yes, they would input the information, but my 12 month pay would not actually start until my next contract started. My next contract starts September 1st, my first pay September 30th. So instead of one month without pay, I’m four months without pay. Ouch. Just to put it mildly.
25:42 Kate: Fortunately, because by nature I am a saver, I am a scrimper, I have very little fun. My husband is just like, “Can we go?” “No, I got to put the money away. No, we can’t. No, don’t ask me again.” I put money aside and my emergency fund will be empty come payday because I’m still pulling from savings with his retirement, his disability money to pay the bills. But come September, we’re back on the horse. And so yeah, the end of September. So I’m eking, I made it, I had enough money set aside. I had, I didn’t even realize it at the time, but with small changes, I had three to four months in the emergency fund. I’m always shooting for six. We had had a lot of fun and relaxation prior so I could have tightened the belt a little bit more. We only made a few small changes. This has been a hiccup for us. Not a, “Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh,” but again, another learning experience.
26:45 Kate: It is okay to make a financial mistake. I want that very, very clear right now. We are human. It is only money. Yes, you heard it from me. It is only money. You set a hundred dollar bill on the table. You get up and walk away. Forget the wind. It’s not going to get up and walk its feet. How do we use it? And so it’s the tool that we’re using, like the hammer or the screwdriver. And so if you make a mistake, you pick yourself back up, you carry on, you figure it out. What’s the mistake? You ask the questions of yourself, you figure out where you went wrong. You figure out where you need help going forward, and you take proactive steps to fix it. You’re going to be okay. We’re okay. I’m going to be rebuilding my emergency savings over the course of the next year, because that’s probably how long it’s going to take to get things back into the groove. But that’s okay. I now have a plan of action and I lived through it. My family lived through it. Nobody starved. This is a good thing.
27:47 Emily: Yeah. I think that this issue that you ran into, again, for the people inside academia, I mean, I hope it hasn’t happened to you, but you probably know someone this has happened to you. They didn’t, as you were saying, didn’t fully understand the contract that they were signing, didn’t fully understand the timeline that the other party was working on. And you end up without — in your case, it wasn’t specifically without summer funding, but that’s how it sort of laid out — but many people will end up without funding for a summer or a semester or something, at some point in their graduate degrees. Hopefully not as a postdoc, although I have known postdocs that that’s happened to, that they go a lapse and pay for some period of time. But this is exactly what an emergency fund is for, right? The primary way you calculate how large an emergency fund should be is if I lost my income for three to six months, how am I going to pay the bills in the meantime? And that is exactly the kind of emergency fund you had so you were able to sustain yourself and your family through that period. But it’s a super, super relatable problem. I’m really glad that you brought this up because hey, if it happens to you as a graduate student, that’s a mistake that Kate made and so you don’t have to feel bad about making that mistake.
29:01 Kate: Don’t feel bad at all!
29:04 Emily: People with PhDs in personal financial planning can make this kind of mistake too. So don’t feel bad about it. But the point is just to the greatest extent possible to prepare in advance for whatever comes your way. It might not be specifically this kind of lapse in income, but at some point you may have a lapse in income for a variety of different reasons. It’s a great reason to have an emergency fund. All kinds of other emergencies might occur and other great reason to have an emergency fund. As we were saying earlier, use that mindset of putting away even the small amounts of money. Start snowballing that account bigger and bigger and bigger, and over time it’ll eventually become a full-fledged emergency fund or whatever it is that you’re working on. Thank you for sharing that story, Kate.
29:44 Kate: Absolutely. And then when you do use it, like I’m in my position, I’m empty or I will be empty in about three days. Start over. And if that means that I’m starting small and I will, because my last paycheck when I was really focusing on building it, I was getting paid over nine months. Now I’m getting paid over 12 months, so my paycheck is going to be smaller. So my contribution to savings is going to be smaller. But that doesn’t mean that I give up. That doesn’t mean that I look at that and say “Oh, I’m never going to make it.” No, I am going to make it. Is there something I can cut out? Like, I don’t need to go downstairs to grab something to eat everyday. I can pack that sandwich, or you know, small things like that. The things that we hear, no matter where we go, here are easy ways to trim your budget. They are true. Not all are applicable, don’t get me wrong, but if it’s a $1.50 for the soda at the vending machine and you’ve got a cold Coke at home, grab it from home, stick it in your backpack and off to work you go. Small, teeny tiny changes will add up. That’s not just in contributions to savings, but also in decreases to your budget. The small make a difference, because gosh darn those pennies add up.
30:54 Emily: Absolutely. One last point that I wanted to make about this story and what you were just saying, is that if you do end up choosing to make some sacrifices to your lifestyle to fund a savings goal. For example, you’re needing to rebuild your emergency savings, it’s going to take a while. You’re going to have to do a few sacrifices in the meantime. Don’t think that that’s going to be forever. Don’t think that just because you have to give up your weekly lunch out, or whatever it is that you are in the meantime, it’s a temporary thing that you need to do to reach this goal. Once you have reached the goal, you can reevaluate. Is that something that I want to continue in that habit that I’ve created? Or is it time to add that spending back in now that I have a little bit more financial security. But don’t have the mindset that just because you make the cut for some period of time, it has to be forever. Things will be different in a few months or a few years and you can reevaluate at that point.
31:47 Kate: And also don’t be afraid to say, I can’t afford to do it this month. It is absolutely empowering to say I can’t afford to do it this month. Maybe that means that you don’t participate. Okay. But if you are honest with yourself and have the courage to say, I can’t afford it, I guarantee you the person you’re talking to is going to understand, because they have been there or maybe they’re there, but they’re hiding behind a credit card or they’re hiding behind borrowed funds. Listen, people, it happens and it happens all the time. So it is okay to say I can’t afford it. And yes, I know that point number three was the plan to spend money networking. Well, plan to bring a Coke and a sandwich from home and go meet on the bench. Go meet at the union and people watch. Go for a walk in network. You don’t have to have $20 every time if it’s not going to work. If it’s not in your budget, it’s not in your budget. But don’t think that the money needs to stand in the way of that networking.
32:48 Emily: Yes, absolutely.
How to Contact Dr. Kate Mielitz
32:49 Emily: Well Kate, this has just been a wonderful interview and I’m so glad to have met you and to be able to introduce my audience to you and you know, let them know a little bit more about what an AFC is and you know, what do you guys do? And so thank you so much for joining me today.
33:03 Kate: Thank you so much. It’s been an absolute thrill to be on today, Emily. I really appreciate it.
33:08 Emily: And where can people find you if they want to follow up about something?
33:11 Kate: People can find me on Twitter, @KateMielitz, and I have a sneaking suspicion Emily that you’ll put that in the comments. You can also find me on Instagram, @KSMielitz , or if you just Google my name Kate Mielitz and Oklahoma State University, it’ll pop right up and give you my university contact information as well.
33:35 Emily: Beautiful, thank you so much.
33:36 Kate: Thank you.
33:38 Emily: Listeners, thank you for joining me for this episode. PFforPphDs.com/podcast is the hub for the Personal Finance for PhDs podcast. There, you can find links to all the episode show notes and a form to volunteer to be interviewed. I’d love for you to check it out and get more involved. If you’ve been enjoying the podcast, here are four ways you can help it grow. One, subscribe to the podcast and rate and review it on Apple podcast, Stitcher, or whatever platform you use. Two, share an episode you found particularly valuable on social media or with your PhD peers. Three, recommend me as a speaker to your university or association. My seminars covered the personal finance topics PhDs are most interested in, like investing, debt repayment, and taxes. Four, subscribe to my mailing list at PFforPhDs.com/subscribe. Through that list, you’ll keep up with all the new content and special opportunities for Personal Finance for PhDs. See you in the next episode, and remember, you don’t have to have a PhD to succeed with personal finance, but it helps. The music is Stages of Awakening by Podington Bear from the Free Music Archive and is shared under CC by NC. Podcast editing and show notes creation by Lourdes Bobbio.