Interesting Discussion with Pattabiraman Murari of Freefincal.com

Are you looking for some excel based calculator for retirement planning, income tax or personal finances? Then you might have discovered Freefincal.com in your search results.

But do you know who runs this awesome website & provide these free financial calculators? Our today’s guest is the man behind Freefincal – Pattabiraman Murari (frequently known as Mr. Pattu).

Pattabiraman Murari is the name in the finance niche that every personal finance blogger looks upto. His simple in-depth analysis & a very straight forward attitude with the ability to provide accurate Excel sheets for almost every required financial aspect, makes him unique in the blogging community.

So let’s start the discussion to explore more about his views & thoughts.

Pattabiraman Murari of Freefincal.com Mr. PattuMDLT: Who is Pattabiraman Murari?

Pattu: I don’t know! Perhaps ‘weirdo’ and/or ‘git’ seems like a good fit.

MDLT: What is your blog Freefincal all about?

Pattu: It is a regimen or therapy for me. For others, it is a repository of open source Excel sheets and (hopefully) unbiased, blunt commentary.

MDLT: Would you like to share how did you able to come out of Physics and enter into personal finance niche?

Pattu: I am still a physicist. I became interested in personal finance because I realized the need to manage money better.

MDLT: Any financial mistakes or lessons that life taught you? Would you like to share with us?

Pattu: Other than the standard/common mistake of “not starting early”, I did not make other mistakes simply because as an academic, I got a steady job pretty late and could start on a clean slate with no pressure from parents.

MDLT: How did your students consider you – as the best Physics professor or the best Investment guide?

Pattu: They do not know about Freefincal. I really don’t know how students think of me. We can only control the controllable.

MDLT: Why people are afraid to comment on your articles? Just want to discover the funny side of that.

Pattu: I didn’t know that they are afraid! If true, you need to ask them that. I have got some pretty useful and incisive comments over time.

MDLT: Why do you carry such a straight forward attitude? Don’t you think this is doing some negativity also from blogging point of view?

Pattu: That is who I am, I guess. Yes, I have lost friends because of that and antagonized people from the media and good chunk of the financial advisory community. If I could go back in time, things would not have been any different. You got to do what you feel is right and face consequences.

Thankfully, there is no such thing as bad publicity! Long-term investing principles apply to blogging too and I had registered steady growth despite my caustic nature.

MDLT: How much aware you are in blogging? Are you the web master of this blog?

Pattu: Yes, DIY all the way! Obsessed with SEO and performance but not about silly things like key-word densities and popular search words.

MDLT: How do you feel as a blogger and where are you in the race of top personal finance bloggers? Is it really bothering you?

Pattu: Freefincal has a unique niche, initially by luck and then by design. I knew what the other personal financial bloggers were missing (deliberately or due to lack of training or exposure), be it about DIY, investment risk or about SEBI regulations and fee-only financial advisory.

I believe that there is a strong audience for calculators and technical aspects of financial planning. If a blogger should worry about niche, he should worry about a niche audience too. So my goal is to grow Freefincal organically without diluting the content. I am not in any hurry to do so. Freefincal is a long-term investment.

I have been recognized for my efforts with a high indiblogger rank, featured in topindianblogs.com, listed a ‘platinum’ blog at indian-blog-list.blogspot.in for two last two years.  These are recognitions offered by fellow (non-personal finance) bloggers. Which I am quite proud of.

I am neither competing with other personal financial bloggers nor do I care what they think about me. If I did, I will dilute my niche.

MDLT: How did you meet Ashal Jauhari?

Pattu: I hope to meet him for the first time on Aug. 23rd at Bangalore. We have only so far interacted over email. He is strong individual and has put with me in his facebook group, Asan Ideas for Wealth. Our core investing principles match, so there is not much of an issue in us getting along.

MDLT: How many people are actually educated in financial planning, as per your research?

I have not done that kind of research, but safe to say, many do not know the right questions to ask, which implies they can never find the right answer.

MDLT: Do you think the workshops you are organizing is enough to educate them? Who are the people attending these workshops? What are your future plans to spread about financial literacy though your blog or other initiatives?

Pattu: The idea is only to point out the basic tenets of personal finance. “Education” is a lifelong excercise and cannot be covered over the course of a workshop. Typically salaried individuals and a few from financial services attend these meets.

I hate that phrase “Financial literacy”! The workshops offer a chance for me to meet readers, become friends, and discuss finance with them.

As for future efforts, I would like to (1) create “simpler” content interspersed with the occasional “technical” content while creating comprehensive tools in alternative platforms (the web, Libreoffice, etc.)

MDLT: The initiatives you are taking with the collaboration of Subhra sir and others are great. But don’t you think, you need more promotion and commercialization to spread about the message to a wider audience?

Pattu: Sponsorship comes with undesirable implications. I would prefer to talk to a small, but motivated group which has paid a fee to attend. Like I said, audience niche and quality is important. So I am happy with the scale I am operating in.

MDLT: Would you like to start doing similar things in future? As you have a good base to start some professional financial service, that many bloggers are already doing.

Pattu: I am not cut out for that sort of thing.

MDLT: According to you, how many people of the age group of 25-30 years understand the requirement of retirement planning? Is this the right time to start retirement planning?

Pattu: Naturally very few, but that is because their parents do not understand it well enough. Needless to say, earlier they start investing, the better.

MDLT: What should be the thumb rule of financial planning?

Pattu: Get the basics of financial management done, and do something else!

MDLT: Do you think we are asking too many questions to you? 

Pattu: Nope.

MDLT: Would you like to share your journey of writing your first E-Book: DIY Personal Money Management?

Pattu: I did not write an ebook. Just compiled my posts in under 30 minutes. I need to prove to myself that I have the discipline to write one from scratch.

MDLT: How is Pattabiraman Murari in daily life, when not talking about personal finance?

Pattu: I am spending time with my research student, in my class, my family or watching movies

MDLT: Would you like to conclude this conversation by sharing something that we have not asked you?

Pattu: Thank you for your generosity. My best wishes to your readers.

Thank you so much Pattabiraman Murari for your time to share your thoughts with the readers of MyDailyLifeTips.

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