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.
Links Mentioned in the Episode
- PF for PhDs: Community
- The Academic Society (Emily’s Affiliate Link)
- PF for PhDs S1E5: This PhD Student Paid Off $62,000 in Undergrad Student Loans Prior to Graduation (Money Story by Dr. Jenni Rinker)
- PF for PhDs S1E3: Serving as a Resident Advisor Freed this Graduate Student from Financial Stress (Money Story by Adrian Gallo)
- ChooseFI Podcast
- Moore Health Company Website
- Erika’s Personal Website
- Erika’s Lab Website
- Erika’s LinkedIn
- Erika’s Twitter (@DrErikaMoore)
- Erika’s Instagram (@erikamooretaylor)
- PF for PhDs: Podcast Hub
- PF for PhDs: Subscribe to Mailing List
00:00 Erika: I did factor in cost of living. So being the poor broke graduate student is a trope that we’re all familiar with, but I think some areas lend to that trope more strongly than others.
00:16 Emily: Welcome to the Personal Finance for PhDs Podcast: A Higher Education in Personal Finance. I’m your host, Dr. Emily Roberts. This is season 10, episode eight, and today my guest is 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’s now pursuing financial independence and early retirement. If you want to be inspired to set an audacious financial goal and also plot your path to achieve that goal, I highly recommend joining the Personal Finance for PhDs Community at PFforPhds.community.
01:14 Emily: There are numerous courses, webinars, recordings, and eBooks to help you figure out what financial goal to pursue right now, for example, repaying student loans versus investing, and how to go about it. Just to take some examples that relate to today’s subject: I recently recorded a set of four workshops for the Community, two of which are titled, “Whether and How to Pay Off Debt as an Early Career PhD,” and, “How to Uplevel your Cashflow as an Early Career PhD.” These workshops teach frameworks and strategies for pursuing goals, like the ones Erika set during grad school, and actually can guide you for years and decades post-PhD as well. Best of all is the community aspect of the Community. There’s a forum available 24/7 to which you can post your questions and prompts, and I host a monthly live call for discussion and Q&A. We’ve spent a lot of our live call time in recent months, discussing homeownership, investing, and career and life transitions. But of course, any financial topic is welcome. To learn more about the excellent content and other opportunities available inside the Community, go to P F F O R P H D S.Community. I hope to see you in our October live call. Without further ado, here’s my interview with Dr. Erikca Moore Taylor.
Will You Please Introduce Yourself Further?
02:39 Emily: I am absolutely thrilled to have joining me on the podcast today, Dr. Erika Moore Taylor. She is actually an assistant professor at the University of Florida, and she finished her PhD in 2018 from none other than the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Duke University, which is the same department that I graduated from four years earlier. So we did overlap I think a little bit, but Erika is joining us today to tell us an incredible debt repayment story from her time in graduate school, as well as giving us some updates on what she’s been up to since she defended. So Erika, it’s a real pleasure to have you on. Welcome! And will you please tell the audience a little bit more about yourself?
03:17 Erika: Yes, thank you so much for having me Emily, or should I say, Dr. Roberts? It’s nice that we have that connection from Duke. And as you said, after I left Duke, actually before I got to Duke, I started thinking about finances and basically use my time at Duke to understand and learn my own personal finance mindset as well as what I wanted my journey to look like. And since then, I’ve been fortunate enough to start my position at the University of Florida, but also start a company focused on personal finance and financial literacy. So I think that’s all I want the audience to know about me so far.
Financial Mindset at the Start of Grad School
03:56 Emily: That is awesome. We’re going to talk so much more about that. So let’s take it back, rewind to when you were getting out of undergrad and starting graduate school. What was your financial mindset like at the time, and what did your finances look like at that time?
04:09 Erika: Yeah, so taking it all the way back to I think it was 2012, this was the year before I started graduate school and I was fortunate enough to do an internship in Boston. And I was kind of bored during the internship, and so I took up personal finance. I started reading books about personal finance because I realized that if I graduated on time from my undergraduate institution, I’d be graduating with $65,000 worth of debt. So in 2013, when I started my graduate program at Duke, I had the mindset of being shackled and weighed down with debt. I was very concerned about debt because I knew that no matter what I did after graduate school, that debt would follow me. It would be with me like a shadow that I couldn’t shake. And so it scared me because I felt like I had done the right moves in graduating and surviving undergraduate and getting into grad school, but I hadn’t made the right financial moves. So my mindset was scarcity.
05:11 Emily: It’s so interesting to me that that student loans, in particular, provoked that scarcity mindset. By the way, did you have any other debt at that time? Aside from the student loans?
05:20 Erika: I didn’t, but when I first started grad school, I bought a car for about 13 or $14,000. So then that added to my debt. So the fear amplified.
05:31 Emily: I think that some people have, I don’t necessarily want to say, like, they feel casually about their student loan debt, but especially when you’re going straight from undergrad into grad school, like you never entered repayment. So maybe the pain of the student loan repayment was not upon you logistically, although it was still there like psychologically. And so some other people I think are just a little bit more, maybe dismissive. And I’m talking about myself. I was very dismissive about the student loan debt that I had from undergrad. It was less than yours, but I was just like, “Oh, it’s subsidized. I’m going to grad school. It’ll still be deferred. No big deal.” Yes, I did know on the other side of graduate school that I would have to pay it off. But it did not bother me psychologically. So why do you think you had the view that you did instead of just feeling a little bit more comfortable with it?
06:18 Erika: Yeah. I think I had the view that I did because I knew I would have to get a job afterwards. And before I entered grad school, I had a job at a daycare working about $7 or $8 an hour. And I had never seen $65,000 in my bank account. I had never seen $65,000 in a job that I could work. And so the fact that I had that much debt was alarming to me, like you said, psychologically, because I had never secured a job that earned that much. And so I, again, was operating in scarcity saying like, “Well, if I have this much debt, I need to pay it off because, you know, I don’t know if I will be able to pay it off.” I didn’t know, you know, how much money I’d make in a job setting in using my degree. And so I was just motivated by that number by the sticker shock, I think price of my undergraduate degree, that really motivated me to pay it off.
Savings and Stipends
07:18 Emily: So starting in grad school, can you share with us did you have any savings or any kind of assets at that time, and also what was your stipend when you started?
07:26 Erika: Yeah, so starting in graduate school, my net worth was I think about negative $60,000. So I had $65,000 worth of debt. And then I had saved around maybe six or $7,000. I saved that money because I knew I would need to put a down payment on my car that I would need to buy in North Carolina, it’s not really public transportation friendly. So I knew that I needed a car as a vehicle. And then I saved a couple of other thousand dollars for a down payment on securing the place that I was going to rent. So first and last month’s rent as well as, you know, a security deposit. So I had, you know, maybe six or $7,000 in my checking account. I was fortunate enough to secure the National Science Graduate Research Fellowship, [GRFP]. And that set my stipend, I think at the time around $32,000 a year.
08:20 Emily: Yeah. Fantastic. And three years of guaranteed funding. That’s awesome. And so actually I want to rewind for a second because having won the NSF GRFP, you, I would imagine, had your selection of graduate programs. So why Duke instead of a different program?
Factoring in Cost of Living
08:40 Erika: Yeah, that’s an excellent question. And you’re right, securing the NSF GRFP, you’re kind of hot on the market, so to speak. So lots of schools will take you even if you didn’t even apply to the school. Thankfully I had already been encouraged to consider Duke because of my graduate research advisor who had just recently moved there. But specifically when I was making my list and considering what schools or programs I would attend, I did factor in cost of living. So being the poor broke graduate student is a trope that we’re all familiar with, but I think some areas lend to that trope more strongly than others. So I kind of eliminated going to Boston or going to San Francisco, even going to San Diego, where there are very strong biomedical engineering programs, but where the cost of living would make it extremely challenging to live independent of my stipend.
09:33 Erika: Additionally, I eliminated any program that had to add on top of the NSF GRFP to meet the standard of living. So that’s something that I don’t think a lot of people know. The NSF GRFP is already above the average stipend in most cases, but in some schools or programs where the cost of living is so high, they have to add on top of that. And so I was like, that means that even if I’m making above average, that’s still not enough to cover the cost of living in this area. So I eliminated those, which is how I landed at Duke.
10:07 Emily: I’m really glad you brought that up. I was thinking, you know, maybe you’re looking at, you know, $32K everywhere and then, oh, wow. It’s an easy choice to go to Durham over, you know, Boston or San Francisco or something. But even knowing that you were going to get a supplement above that, that’s really great that you consider that as well, because you’re right. Like if you look at the median cost of living in Durham, I’m pretty sure for a single person it’s still below $32K, or even below $30K, maybe at this point, I haven’t looked at the data super recently, but I know that when I was there, I did look at the living wage database from MIT. I think when I started at Duke, my stipend was $24,000, because I was getting the base stipend from the department, but I believe the living wage was something like 18, $19,000.
10:45 Emily: And so it was well above that number for a single person. That is not the situation when you go to these more high cost of living cities, but also just graduate programs that don’t pay super well. Duke pays fine for its base stipend as far as I’m aware. Okay. So I’m glad we, you know, we’re seeing how intentional you are when you are going into the selection of graduate school. Now we’re going to go back to where you are, you know, you’re entering graduate school. You have the student loan debt kind of hanging above you and you’ve talked about, you know, what motivated you. What was the exact goal that you set regarding your student loans? Did you want to pay them off entirely? Did you want to pay them off partially? Did you want to be doing retirement savings? Like what was your financial goal at that time?
Student Loan Goals
11:25 Erika: This is a great question, Emily, and I love this because it does break down where my mind was. So I had two buckets of student loans, the first were my own personal federally secured student loans, the second bucket were parent plus secured federal loans. And my parents made it very clear that I was expected to pay back both of those. So they were not going to pay back the parent plus loans. I was expected to cover both of them. The parent plus loan was in essence, a loan that they gave me through the federal government. And so my strategy initially was just to pay off the parent plus loans because I said, if I can lower the debt that I owe my parents or the federal government through my parents, then I’ll be in a much better shape. Additionally, those were the largest loans that I had. So I think I had one that was $20,000 and one that was about $25,000 in parent plus loans. My own personal federal loans were much smaller, you know, by comparison. So I said, it’d be great if, while I was in grad school, I could just pay those off. That was stage one.
12:31 Emily: Yeah. And so just to gain a little bit more clarity here. So your student loans that were in your name, those were deferred because you were in graduate school. Were they also subsidized? It wasn’t like you only took out the subsidized portion?
12:43 Erika: No, I had subsidized and unsubsidized loans.
12:46 Emily: Okay. So part of it subsidized, part of it’s un-subsidized. And then the parent loans that your parents had, those are not in deferment because they’re not yours, technically. So it’s so interesting. So you sort of considered yourself to be in repayment because your parents were in repayment for that portion of the loans. Do you remember what that minimum, like the minimum payment that they had to make that you were trying to make for them, was when you started?
13:08 Erika: Yeah, so actually, because I am the obsessive person that I am, I made a massive spreadsheet, which is something that I recommend to anyone who’s in debt, right? Making a spreadsheet of every single loan, all of the interest and all of the, you know, what the minimum payment is. So at the time, just for my parent plus loans, not my un-subsidized personalized loans, the payment was around $250 a month. The interest rates were low. So it wasn’t that high of a number.
Reducing Housing Expenses and Increasing Income
13:38 Emily: Okay. So let’s sort of progress in time through graduate school. What did you start doing during graduate school to, because I know you did, how did you increase your income? You’re already on the NSF GRFP, but I know you did even more to increase your income.
13:54 Erika: Yeah. So I was very fortunate to be encouraged to look outside of the box. And so when you look outside of the box, you start thinking about what are the most expensive items in my budget and how can I eliminate or dramatically reduce those? And for most people, the most expensive item is where you live. And so I applied to be a graduate resident at Duke, which is a very awesome program. I highly recommend it if you’re in grad school, look in to see if your university has a graduate resident program, because it allowed me to connect better with the undergraduate community, but most importantly, it allowed me to live for free. And so I applied and was awarded that role. And the first year was very challenging, but I served as a graduate resident for four out of the five years of my PhD. That was one major prong.
14:45 Emily: Yeah. Wow. So you completely eliminated your housing expense. That’s incredible. And I’m actually thinking, did that role play a part in your subsequent faculty applications? Like did that come up at all later on? Was it an asset, I guess, on your CV as it is what I’m asking?
15:00 Erika: Yes. It was an asset on my CV due to my familiarity with the administration and the structure as it relates to undergraduate curriculum and undergraduate engagement. And it also bridged me into serving as the Duke University Graduate and Professional Young Trustee. So it definitely allowed me to keep my hands in many pots at Duke and then it allowed me to leverage those opportunities into a faculty position.
15:32 Emily: Yeah. I love it when I can find something that benefits someone both financially and on the CV, and for future funding applications or, you know, whatever it might be. Did you do anything else on the increasing income side?
15:44 Erika: Yes. So the second prong of my approach was I sort of started serving as a house sitter or pet sitter. So this was a hustle that I was not able to maintain. Just because it took so much bandwidth. I was in lab, you know, a lot of time that I was also serving as a graduate resident, which took when I started out about 20 hours a week. So it was a tremendous time commitment. But I essentially wrote how much of the job was worth. And I wrote it in big letters and I just posted it on my door. And I said, you know, whenever you want to complain, just look at that dollar amount. And then during years two and three, I would house sit for professors for different professionals who were going out of town or who were in transient positions, watching their pets, doing things around their houses. So those are the main ways that I accelerated my debt repayment plan.
16:40 Emily: And you said that you didn’t maintain the house and pet sitting. It was too time intensive. Was that the main reason?
16:45 Erika: Yes. The house and pet sitting, I just found that, you know, in life you’re juggling a few balls and then you throw in the graduate resident ball, and then you throw in the stresses of graduate school and trying to complete your PhD. And then I threw in this other ball of house sitting and pet sitting. So it was just one too many balls and I had to think, what can I let drop? And it honestly wasn’t worth the time commitment always. So I definitely let it drop.
17:08 Emily: Yeah. Very, very strategic.
17:13 Emily: Emily here, for a brief interlude. This announcement is for prospective and first-year graduate students. My colleague, Dr. Toyin Alli of The Academic Society, offers a fantastic course just for you called Grad School Prep. The course teaches you Toyin’s four-step grad boss method, which is to uncover grad school secrets, transform your mindset, up-level your productivity, and master time management. I contributed a very comprehensive webinar to the course titled, “Set Yourself Up for Financial Success in Graduate School.” It explores the financial norms of grad school and the financial secrets of grad school. I also give you a plan for what to focus on in your finances each season of the year that you apply to and into your first year of grad school. If this all sounds great to you, please register at theacademicsociety.com/emily for Toyin’s free masterclass on what to expect in your first semester of grad school and the three big mistakes that keep grad students stuck in a cycle of anxiety, overwhelm, and procrastination. You’ll also learn more about how to join Grad School Prep, if you’d like to go a step further. Again, that’s theacademicsociety.com/E M I L Y for my affiliate link for the course. Now, back to our interview.
Anything Else to Control Expenses?
18:40 Emily: Okay. So that’s on the income side. Did you do anything else on the, you know, controlling expenses, decreasing expenses side of the equation?
18:47 Erika: Yes, even though I purchased my car, I paid off my car within the first year that I had the loan. So that was really important to me because at the time that was my highest interest debt. And then I actually didn’t drive that much because I didn’t want to pay for maintenance of the car. So I think I got my oil changed about every 12 to 18 months. And because I drove that infrequently, I would, you know, get a ride with friends or I would just walk to a location or I would take, you know, some of the commuter trains into downtown. Commuter buses, excuse me, into downtown. And so I basically decreased my use of the car. And then also my friends know I’m pretty cheap or frugal as a person. So I ate out a lot, but I strategically ate out. So part of the graduate resident job comes with a food stipend. And so I would have meetings or hang out with friends, but it’d be on campus where I could use my meal points. And then also a part of the role was also facilitating community development. So that meant ordering food. And so I would go to the events because that was part of my job. But if there were leftovers, I would take that food and that would be lunch for the week. So I reduced my food expenses and I reduced my transportation expenses.
Balance Sheet and Loans at the End of Grad School
20:00 Emily: Yeah. I think the taking leftovers home from events is a very classic grad student. I think a lot of people are employing that strategy, but you combined it with the, “Oh no, I have a job that actually pays me to eat on occasion.” Okay. So let’s then jump ahead to the end of graduate school. What was your balance sheet at the time? How did you do against these student loans?
20:21 Erika: Yeah, so by the end of graduate school, I had completely eliminated my student loan debt, my parent plus loans and my personal loans. And I had, I think it was still around six or $7,000 saved.
20:35 Emily: Okay.
20:36 Erika: So positive net worth.
20:38 Emily: Yeah. Complete debt elimination. That’s amazing. Congratulations on achieving that goal. And obviously you, I mean, to pay off $65,000 of debt during graduate school while on a graduate student stipend, it’s just, it’s an amazing, amazing accomplishment. I did, if the listeners are interested and you want motivation for your own debt repayment journey during graduate school, I did actually do an interview back in season one with Dr. Jenni Rinker, who also went to Duke, who also had the NSF GRFP. And she also paid off, I think it was yeah, in the low sixties thousand dollars of student loan debt, while in graduate school. She had a different approach than yours. I think she was like a major, major side hustler, whereas you went this like RA route. They both can work fantastically. So really happy to have that. And actually also from season one, there’s another example of an interview I did with an RA. And he also had amazing benefits associated with his resident advisor position.
Would You Have Done it Again the Same Way?
21:26 Emily: So, okay. I still want to think about you back in 2018 when you defended, you’ve conquered the student loan debt. Would you have done it again the same way?
21:35 Erika: I would do it again the same way, because the skills that I’ve learned through the process of accumulating that debt and then paying it off are now with me today. So I apply them in different ways, but I think showing that I could be disciplined over wh at, at the time, seemed like a massive amount of debt to me has transitioned my discipline in so many different ways. So I’m grateful for the experience. Sometimes you kind of need to be slowed down or you need to learn a lesson. So I look at my student loan debt as the lesson that I needed to learn. And then I just try to apply those skills in many different ways.
22:14 Emily: I feel like, so when I finished my PhD, like literally, like when I passed my defense, like finished my PhD, I had this feeling, a very expansive feeling of, I can do literally anything. I can conquer any mountain, like in front of me. I felt that way a couple of other times in my life. But in the financial arena, I don’t know if I’ve had that. But did you have a moment like that? Like with the last payment that you made, did you feel, you know, you had these insights and so forth. Can you tell us about that?
22:44 Erika: Yeah. When I made the final payment, it was kind of anticlimactic. And maybe this is the scarcity mindset in me, but I have sisters and family members who had been working and contributing to their retirement accounts. I hadn’t done any of that. I was just focused on eliminating debt. And so I was like 27, I think, when I defended. No, 26, when I defended and I was kind of like, okay, now I’m really behind because I don’t have any retirement savings. So it kind of just clicked, you know, gears from debt repayment to retirement savings. And it wasn’t quite as I think, as momentous as I would’ve hoped.
Finances in Marriage
26:07 Emily: Yeah. Is there anything else you want to tell us about like, sort of what your life looks like now, financially?
26:12 Erika: Yes. So I got married, which has been an interesting journey. I think it’s been fun. But I love talking about finances. So I immerse that immediately into my relationship. And my husband actually came into the marriage with student loan debt. So there was a moment of panic where I was like, I don’t want to go back to that. And so we came up with a plan to basically, even though we’re dual income, we only live off of one income, and we attacked his debt. And now we’re just full steam ahead planning for really important things in our lives. And so I’m anti-debt now in a major way. And so we were talking about, oh, maybe in few years, we’ll buy a car. And so I’m like, okay, what’s our savings plan to afford this car? Because I’m not going back into debt.
27:01 Erika: Or we talk about going on trips. So later this summer, we’re going to Hawaii, which we’re really excited about. But we are trying to save and plan for that now. Right? All of the excursions and activities we want to go on, I’m not charging them. I want to have the cash to pay for them. And so that means we have to make sacrifices in other areas, but it’s been really fun, fine tuning. What are our shared, you know, drivers, what do we enjoy spending money on, and what things do we not care about as much? So that’s what we are continually working on now as a couple.
27:34 Emily: Yeah, that sounds amazing. I don’t want to put this in like a light where like, “Oh, it’s a great experience to have a low-income for a long time during graduate school with no hope of increasing it.” It’s not great. It’s not great. The silver lining on that very, very, very dark cloud is that in some situations you can embrace some good habits, maybe develop your mindset and so forth. And it really does sound like what you did. You mentioned the word discipline earlier. So you developed your discipline again over this long debt repayment journey. And again, within, you know, the confined circumstances that you had financially during graduate school. So I think that’s amazing. I certainly also developed really good financial habits during graduate school that have continued. And I’m happy now with a higher income to have them serving me well at this point because it’s really gratifying to have a higher income to work with when you have those good habits in place.
28:24 Emily: So you mentioned at the top that you have a company now, Moore Wealth, would you please tell us more about what you do through that?
28:30 Erika: Yeah, so Moore Wealth is kind of my love letter to what I wish I would have done when I was a younger student. And so I think one of the plights of education in the United States is a lack of financial literacy training. Like I made the joke the other day, we learned how to write cursive, but we don’t learn how to budget, which is insane because you don’t need to write cursive in life, but you do need to know how to budget if you’re going to, you know, have command over your finances. And so through Moore Wealth, we have a two-pronged approach to addressing this. Our mission is just empowerment through financial literacy. And so the first prong is our scholarships and fellowships. And so I was really excited because I finally have the income to give my money away to people who I think are deserving.
29:17 Erika: And so we established a nonprofit organization to basically grant scholarships and we had our first cohort that was awarded in February. And so that’s a lifelong dream of mine that we’re doing through Moore Wealth. And then the second prong is financial seminars, mainly targeted to high school students. So before you even get to college, take a step back and figure out what you want your life to look like and how finances are going to play a in that. And that’s what we do. So seminars and scholarships, and that’s the company, that’s the mission of Moore Wealth.
29:49 Emily: That sounds so incredible, amazing that you decided to set that up after having this journey. Tell us more about the scholarships and fellowships. Like who are the kinds of candidates you give them to, and then how does that benefit them? What do they get to do with it?
30:02 Erika: Yeah, great question. So right now we had our inaugural class that was awarded in February. And so we solicit proposals and we solicited proposals from over 50 universities. It was actually a tremendous response. That was kind of unexpected for this first year. And we awarded them to anyone who was entering into or completing a degree granting program. So we are specific in that terminology because we consider certificates and trade school or nontraditional routes of access also really important. And so it’s a very inclusive scholarship at this point. There was a Google form that’s on our webpage where people had to respond to a series of short answer questions. And then we had a blinded review that basically scored the essays based on the rubric that was established by the scholarship committee. Those were the only requirements or prerequisites for entering into the scholarship. We did have a GPA minimum of a 3.00 on a 4.0 scale. But other than that, there were no limits in terms of if the person was in graduate school, if the person was entering high school, if the person was completing their plumbing certificate, or anything else like that, we wanted to be as inclusive as possible.
31:24 Emily: And is it a grant that they then do work with, or is it just completely goes into your pocket? You can do whatever you want with it?
31:32 Erika: Yes. At this stage we awarded each of the recipients, they did have to send a follow up about how they’re going to try to implement financial literacy skills that they learned in their reflection essays into their life. And what we’re hoping to do in the future as this builds out is actually have small courses for them and potentially get them up to date with their financial literacy skills. And yeah, so currently they’ve gotten their money and they’ve reflected on financial literacy concepts. But to date, that’s it for that first cohort. So we’re looking to add additional responses and interactions with them in the future.
Best Advice for An Early-Career PhD
32:11 Emily: Incredible, wonderful. We can easily tell the passion that you have for this material in your voice. I’m so excited that you’re in the space as well. Erika, the question that I ask all of my interviewees at the end of our conversation is what is your best advice for an early-career PhD? And it could be something that we’ve touched on already in the interview, or it could be something completely else.
32:33 Erika: Yes. I love this question and I love the responses that you’ve gotten in the podcast so far to it. So I’ll echo what a few other people have said, which is to say that the advice that I have for you is two-pronged: if you have debt, understand what your debt is. Generate a spreadsheet, get clarity on that debt. It’s so important to do now than just ignoring it. And I know it’s hard because you’re like, “I live in denial. It’s the best thing, you know, it’s the best. Ignorance is bliss.” But getting clarity on your debt really can inform what lifestyle you need to live in the future and what lifestyle you want to live and how your finances interact with that. The second piece of advice, if you don’t have debt: contribute to a retirement savings account. This is something I wish I would have done. I didn’t have a lot of extra money, but I know that there were opportunities that I passed up because of ignorance and because of fear for how to interact with a Roth IRA, for example. And so you can never get back time. And so while you’re in grad school, I really recommend just contributing to a Roth IRA if you have any extra money.
33:41 Emily: Absolutely, absolutely. Totally co-Sign each of those pieces of advice. Wonderful. Erika, thank you so much for this wonderful conversation. And I hope that the listeners will find you after this. What is your website?
33:53 Erika: Yes. My website is Moore Wealth, M O O R E W E A L T H.org. And you can also just email me or find me on Twitter. My handle is @DrErika E R I K A Moore M O O R E. And then you’ll find more information there.
34:15 Emily: Wonderful. Thank you again for joining me.
34:18 Erika: Thank you, Dr. Roberts.
34:25 Emily: Listeners, thank you for joining me for this episode. PFforPhDs.com/podcast is the hub for the Personal Finance for PhDs Podcast. On that page are links to all the episode show notes, which include full transcripts and videos of the interviews. There is also a form to volunteer to be interviewed on the podcast. 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 Podcasts, Stitcher, or whatever platform you use. Two, share an episode you found particularly valuable on social media, with an email listserv, or as a link from your website. Three, recommend me as a speaker to your university or association. My seminars cover the personal finance topics PhDs are most interested in like investing, debt repayment, and effective budgeting. I also license prerecorded workshops on 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 by Lourdes Bobbio and show notes creation by Meryem Ok.