At 21, Sophia Bera could not take watching the real estate market climb any further without jumping in, so she took a mortgage she could not really afford, along with her boyfriend, to buy their first home together. A few years later, along came the financial crisis and Bera, like so many other Americans, was upside down. But by the time she was 26, she had used her hard lessons learned to become a certified financial planner, advising young clients on how to prevent making the kinds of mistakes she made.

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