Personal Finance Interview on Student Loans with Bridget Casey

Bridget Casey writes at Money After Graduation, a website that helps people increase their net worth by helping them pay off their student loans, get out of consumer debt and also invest their money well so that they can graduate rich.

She started Money After Graduation after finishing her undergraduate degree, where she found herself over $20,000 in debt. Systematically, Bridget started paying this off and this is when she became more interested in money, learning about saving and investing.

We thought it would be great to get a snippet of the kind of advice on offer at her website,, and get to know her a bit more.

Why do you do what you do?

I started Money After Graduation when I had just finished my undergraduate degree and was over $20,000 in debt. I started tracking my debt payoff, and I became more interested in money, learned about saving and investing. I love sharing what I've learned with other students and recent graduates. Student debt is a common burden and saving money in your twenties is hard, so I love helping my peers succeed at increasing their net worth.

You speak a lot about frugality. Why do you think frugality has become so undervalued these days?

We live in a culture of instant gratification. Frugality isn't practised because, thanks to credit, it doesn't have to be. Being frugal is a lost art; you're weird if you do it, and no wonder. If you can settle for new cars, big houses and big screen TVs why would you elect to go without? Most people don't know the sense of satisfaction that comes from living within your means.

Can we still look our best even when we're practicing frugality?

Yes! True fashion is timeless. Having style is not about buying up the latest trends, it's about choosing pieces that you love and flatter you and this can be accomplished at a thrift store.

How can people pay off their student loans quicker?

Buckle down and do it. There is no silver bullet, but tackling your student debt aggressively will leave you better off in the long run.

By living like a student for the first little while after you graduate, earning extra money at your job or by working part-time in addition to your full-time job, and being responsible with your spending, you can pay off your student debt in a fraction of the loan term.

How do you encourage people not to feel overwhelmed about investing?

The stock market isn't as much of a mystery as most people think it is. Once you can wrap your head around some of the jargon by utilizing sites like Investopedia, you'll be able to decode a lot of what's going on. You might even find that investing for the long term is actually quite boring. When you're picking stocks you plan to hold for five, 10, or 15 years (or even longer), you're not living the life of a day trader, you're depositing your money and watching it grow much as you would in a simple savings account, except with a better return.

How do you think tools like Mint help people be more frugal with their money?

Knowing what you're spending your money on is the first step to managing it. If you don't know where your money is, you can't do anything with it. Using tracking tools like Mint show you what you're spending so you can determine where you need to make changes.

What's the number one thing you say to people to inspire them to budget?

Don't you want to be rich? It starts here.

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