The Benefits of Starting Financial Planning Early for Scientists


Due to the pandemic and rising cost of living, our financial situation may be weighing more heavily on our minds than ever before. We wondered what financial advisors could offer to young scientists recovering from the pandemic.

We spoke with Christopher Calandra, CFP, Founder and Principal Advisor of Elliott Wealth Management Services.®, with 31 years of experience as a financial advisor. He is also the host of the Simply Financial podcast, which currently has over 350 episodes. The latest episodes include his three-part series called “Science of Money,” which is based on the math of money, financial experiments, and the psychology of money.

How have recent events (such as the pandemic) changed the savings and retirement financial sector?

Many feel that the work-life balance has changed as it relates to the financial sector. For example, many want to retire sooner than they did pre-pandemic. We also see young people continuing to delay things like marriage, buying a home, and having children. It affects the economy.

Another example is the use of technology. So before the pandemic, many people only wanted to meet with a financial advisor in person. Far more people are now very open to remote business relationships that take place via phone, Zoom, and email.

The last is uncertainty and anxiety. The fear created during the pandemic has resulted in a post-pandemic world in which many sincerely desire financial security. But they also want to spend money, gain experience, and enjoy life, so they don’t miss out.

Since Early Career Scientists (ECS) often hold temporary jobs, the economics of scientists can be precarious. Do you have any advice you can offer to help ECS become more financially secure in the future?

There are two. First, we need to take steps to increase our economic security. This is described as building wealth. Second, I want to take steps to improve my career so that I can increase my income in the long run.

We call these seven wealth formation rules. A more detailed description is available on our website at But in a nutshell:

  1. Set goals. You need to ask yourself questions (e.g. how much would you like to spend/save? How much debt would you like to reduce?).
  2. Be prepared: This will take a little learning and research and spending time to be ready for the path to achieving those goals.
  3. Formulate a wealth building plan: There are ups and downs in wealth formation throughout life. But you want to have a plan for what you spend your money on.
  4. Team establishment: Building wealth and making smart financial decisions is usually not a one-person job. You need a team of accountants, lawyers, friends, family, colleagues and financial advisors.
  5. Track your progress. It’s like science, and if you’re doing an experiment, you’ll want to track the results of your experiment. You’ll want to track the progress of the research you’re doing on your way to an answer or conclusion. you are looking for
  6. Diversification: We want to spread the risk to reduce the chance of one bad outcome ruining the whole plan.
  7. Be careful with debt: If you have any kind of debt, especially the wrong kind of debt, you should have a plan to reduce or eliminate it, at least in the long run.

Scientists often have student loans and debt. How can financial planners help them manage their debt?

This goes back to goal setting, but one of your goals might be to reduce or eliminate student loans.

A financial planner can help you develop a plan. For example, let’s say you have a goal to pay off/reduce your debt. Everyone’s situation is different, and that’s reflected in your personal financial planning. But generally, you want to pay off your debt sooner or later while keeping in line with your other goals and other financial priorities.

You host a series of podcasts called “The Science Of Money.” The Money Math episode talks about compound interest. What is compound interest and why is it important?

Compound interest is a formula where the principal earns interest. And that interest starts earning interest. It gets even more complicated, sort of like a snowball effect.

A simple example is a nice sneaky formula called the Rule of 72. If you take the interest rate and divide it by the number 72, the answer equals the number of years it takes your money to double. If you get a 6% return, the formula is 6 to 72 to 12. This means that at 6%, your money doubles every 12 years. That’s compound interest.

Given enough time and a good interest rate, when interest starts accruing, you’ll end up earning more interest than you paid on the principal. Very powerful. Also, if you are the debtor, compound interest works against you, so you ignore it at your peril.

You call life a massive ‘experiment’, especially when finance is involved. That may seem like a terrifying prospect. How do you get your client to think in a constructive way?

Life is an experiment because there are so many unknowns, such as who will come into our lives, what our health will be, how much money we will make, what kind of job we will have, where we will live, and so on.

In our three-part series on The Financial Experiment episodes, we discuss how retirement income planning can be an experiment, which, like you mentioned, can be scary. But that doesn’t have to be the case, and a constructive approach we take when working with our clients is to let the 7 Wealth Building Rules guide us. I want to make a well-thought-out plan.

So the best way to really build it is to experiment. This work is planned in advance, which he consistently monitors every one to two years and makes changes as necessary. The best way is to plan, monitor it, and make changes if necessary.

What are the most common psychological biases and traps people fall into when making financial decisions?

We have a lot. But I’ll give you a few.

Herd mentality is one. Basically, you’re doing it because other people are doing it. It can be economically counterproductive, but just because someone else is doing something doesn’t mean it’s aligned with your goals, either financially or otherwise. may not be suitable for you.

Another example is endowment effects. The endowment effect is the emotional bias that an individual values ​​or should value an object that he or she owns more than other objects.

A final example is something called the law of reciprocity. When someone does something for us, we feel we owe it, and we want to pay it back. This is also common in business meetings. A salesperson may give you a free sample. Believe it or not, we feel like we owe that person even though we are independent and strong-willed people. I want you to be aware of this law of reciprocity.

A typical example is when a salesperson buys you lunch and you pay off your debt with a large order from that salesperson. For the human condition is not really adjusted for valuation, but only for the settlement of debts. And you might end up making the wrong financial decisions.

What do you think is the most important point for readers?

I think there’s a saying in the world of financial planning. I learned that early in my career. It boils down to, “Most people spend more time planning their vacations than they do financially.” So I think the key lesson is that money shouldn’t be the most important thing in life because there are more important things, like relationships and health. But it doesn’t matter.

Building wealth and increasing your financial security takes time, purpose, and planning for financial success. Success is a relative term. Different people have different views. But I think that’s the key to building wealth and increasing financial security. You have to spend some time on it. It doesn’t happen by accident, it has to be purposefully planned.

To listen to the three-part podcast series, 7 Rules for Building Wealth White Paper For video instruction, visit

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