Between memorizing lines for upcoming student productions, Sophia Bera would steal away to the local Barnes & Noble near Minnesota State University at Mankato and head straight to the personal finance section. There, she immersed herself in the finer points of student loan repayments, the beauty of compounding, and 401(k) investing strategies. As a women studies and theater arts major, she says she was "determined not to be a starving artist."
Her diligence paid off. In 2005, at the age of 21 and three months after graduation, she bought her first home. Soon, friends were coming to her to ask for advice on their own finances.