Future Directions for EPF

“my realization halfway through”

The primary niche within the personal finance blogosphere in which I see EPF living is one for graduate students.  I only have about two years left as a PhD student and while I hope that the blog will outlive my pursuit of the degree, its niche can evolve (hence the name) at that time.  During these last two years I’d like to target a higher percentage of our content toward how personal finance topics and decisions may be different for graduate students than the general population or young professionals.  The most searched-for post I’ve written by far answers the question of whether graduate students receiving compensation with 1099s can contribute to Roth IRAs.  I want to have more posts like this that explore topics grad students may find difficult to find information on elsewhere.


Here are some of my ideas for future single posts or series:

  • considerations for buying a house near the start of your graduate program
  • interesting on-campus jobs or ways to fund your education (e.g. being a residential advisor)
  • coaching grad student volunteers on their budgets/balance sheets – similar to what iHeartBudgets and Budgets Are Sexy are doing, but with more nitty-gritty detail and crowdsourcing – this could even be recurring with one student as he/she implements changes
  • grad student taxes! (I’m researching this in collaboration with other personal finance enthusiasts at my university)
  • the opportunity cost of grad school (very helpful here to listen to post-grads)
  • how the careers of people with graduate degrees match up with their expectations when they entered graduate school
  • how long-distance marriage changes finances (a situation many graduate students encounter and that we might face next year)
  • obtaining a professional degree (MBA, MD, JD, etc.) without debt


I am going to start interviewing some of my friends and contacts who have experience with the above areas to put together the posts.  If you have thought through or experienced any of the above areas, please comment or email me (evolvingPF@gmail.com) so I can pick your brain or feature you in a post!  Pass this post on to any of your friends who have experiences to share.  And email me if you are interested in constructive criticism of your budget!  (Of course I can keep your input anonymous if you want or link to your blog if you have one.)


I would also love to hear from more non-science/engineering PhD graduate students.  The majority of my friends are in sci/eng PhDs or MSs programs and I have few contacts who are doing other types of master’s degrees and doctorates.  What do you want to read about?


Of course I don’t want to alienate or discourage my non-graduate student readers!  What I mentioned above will only be a portion of the total content on this blog, which will still discuss how money can affect relationships, provide frugal tips for living on a low income, and detail what is going on money-wise with me and Kyle.  I hope you will continue to provide your insight from outside the grad school bubble.


What new types of content would you most like to (continue to) see on EPF?  Do you have any burning questions you’d like me to take a stab at answering?


gif from the amazing site What Should We Call Grad School – if you haven’t seen this yet, it is a must!

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15 Responses to "Future Directions for EPF"

  1. One day, I’ll be going back to school, so having this as a resource will be a great help. Especially, because you come at it from a science background. Most of my friends are from backgrounds where getting others to pay for your education is much less likely.
    Edward Antrobus recently posted..Redbox vs Netflix: DVD Rental Comparison

    1. Emily says:

      When do you think you’ll apply again and in what?

      1. For what, I’m still deciding exactly. Hydrology is one option. The other is geology. However, for geology, there are three or four different programs which would cover what I conceivably would want to do with my degree.

        When is complicated by the above factor, and also the fact that I originally wanted to get some industry experience before going back to school, but I’m finding that I’m having trouble getting any experience without additional schooling.
        Edward Antrobus recently posted..Oportunity Cost: Do You Pick Up Change?

  2. Emily too says:

    I have 3 months of experience in long distance girlfriendhood and 2 weeks of long distance marriage (more to come this year!), and there are definitely some tough financial decisions – including the projected use of savings that I spent my first 3 years of grad school accumulating. (That makes me sad because even though I saved specifically for such a situation, separate from EF and retirement, I’m not going to be able to replace that amount while still in school, and I’d much rather be able to pay the costs of out of grants.) I’d love to see what compromises other people have made, or what creative ways they’ve gotten around the financial challenges of living in two places and seeing each other as often as possible.

    On another note – it sounds like you and Kyle have reliable and sufficient income, which is great, and I’m lucky to mostly be in that position, but I’m definitely stretched due to lack of summer funding, and I know grad students elsewhere who have a lot more trouble with insufficient funding. I’m not talking people who take out tens of thousands of dollars in debt for tuition, but people whose stipends do not quite provide a living wage, who have 4 years of funding in 5 year programs, or who have children or medical expenses that increase their cost of living, for example. Maybe soliciting posts or rounding up info from people who’ve had to search for secondary income, or make choices about how to combine work and grad school, could be helpful to capture a broader range of experiences? I’ve done extra teaching, summer work in the private sector or for non-pertinent research projects, and gotten small grants, for example.

    1. Emily says:

      Our departments guarantee our tuition remission/stipends so we have pretty high job/money security. I only know a couple people who have had trouble with funding (that is, I only know a couple people not in sci/eng) so I’ll start out talking with them. I may also email you for some ideas. Hopefully those conversations can spark a direction of research and reflection for me or some guest posts.

  3. I like reading your blog for your voice, and how differently you view the world. Period. Keep it up!
    Kathleen @ Frugal Portland recently posted..Do these jeans make my butt look too expensive? And other Fincon worries

    1. Emily says:

      Thanks for your support! And I guess that was a compliment? 🙂 … What do you find different about my worldview?

  4. Well, I’m not a grad student, but here’s the deal. A number of those topics apply to the rest of us poor people, too. So w hen you post these topics/articles, be sure to let the reader know when it applies to other people of limited income as well!
    TB at BlueCollarWorkman recently posted..Saving Money With Properly Inflated Tires

    1. Emily says:

      Yes, I think the only posts I will posit as for grad students will be pretty specific to people involved in the university system. The majority of our posts are for the 99% (or the 50%) and that won’t change.

  5. Jenn Hawk says:

    Hey Emily,

    FYI – I purchased my house the summer before I started grad school. I would be willing to talk to you about that if you wanted for your house buying post. I also know a few other chem kids who did the same thing, so i could always ask them if you were interested in interviewing a few other people as well.

    1. Emily says:

      Yes. I will work on the questions I want to ask and talk with you about it.

  6. I’m an MBA if that helps you with your efforts.
    My Money Design recently posted..Practicing Entrepreneurship the Fraidy-Cat Way – Using Your Job

    1. Emily says:

      It might. Do you think MBA students have any unique sets of PF issues that I could address? I would imagine they are comparatively savvy as they have generally spent a few years out in the real world. Maybe for those attending full-time they should consider lifestyle deflation?

  7. […] @ Evolving Personal Finance writes Future Directions for EPF – I’m going to start providing more grad student-specific content on EPF and I need […]

  8. […] Evolving PF mentioned me in Weekly Update 32 & Future Directions for EPF […]

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