Interview with a Savings Expert:Casey Bond

Casey Bond oversees everything content-related at Go Banking Rates, so she knows a thing or two about personal finance. In addition to reading countless finance articles, she’s written about topics on everything from investing to budgeting. Check out our interview to see what Casey has to say about ways to better manage your money!

As the Editorial Director for the site Go Banking Rates, you have your eyes on a variety of personal finance topics. What first got you interested in writing about money issues?

It really happened by accident. I worked for a financial planner throughout college and eventually left to find work in the publishing world. I thought I was going to completely change gears – I had been applying to magazines and other literary publications – but ended up joining as an editor, and have since become a total personal finance nerd.

You initially worked at a financial planning firm while you were earning your degree. What lessons did you learn about how to manage your own finances there that you wished someone had taught you earlier in life?

I feel very fortunate to have been in that environment during my early adult life, because I learned a lot of important lessons I know I wouldn’t have otherwise. I was encouraged to open an employer-sponsored IRA and contribute part of my paycheck, get a credit card to start building credit – things I was very resistant to doing at the time, but now I look back and think ‘thank God I did.’

Your work appears on tons of different sites including Huffington Post and Business Insider. What sites do you rely on to keep you up-to-date on financial news or trends?

I read Business Insider every single day. I also like to review the MSN Money page and Daily Finance. Every morning, I also check out what’s trending on Google, Yahoo, and Twitter to see if there are any big stories we need to cover.

You have more than 4,000 (!) followers on Twitter. What is the best money-saving tip you have received from your readers?

I have to pick just one? Honestly, the greatest value I find in my Twitter network is the range of voices and unique perspectives that are shared. In personal finance, there is a ton of overlap in coverage and this fear to have an unpopular opinion, so it’s awesome when people post really fresh and thought-provoking content to their feeds.

Last year, you were a featured speaker at the Financial Blogger Conference in St. Louis. What are a few things you think are key to a blog’s success?

First, you must know who your target audience is – not who you think they are or should be, but definitely. Find out who is coming to your blog today so you can best meet their expectations.

Secondly, be different and have an identifiable voice; there’s so much competition in the space today, you can’t afford to be mediocre.

And finally, always focus on quality. If you’re going to spend your time writing, why wouldn’t you make it something people really enjoy reading?

Through your work, you must be constantly exposed to people’s views on budgeting and overcoming debt. What are some easy steps you would recommend for taking control of one’s finances that most people overlook?

I rarely find that one-size-fits-all personal finance advice is useful, but I will say the one thing most people can do to improve their financial situation is start writing down their habits. It’s easy to be dishonest with yourself about how much you spend and on what, but when it’s all laid out on paper, there’s no arguing with the facts.

Also, maintaining detailed records of your income and spending not only holds you accountable for your budget, but helps uncover trends you might not know about. For instance, maybe you’re being charged an unnecessary fee on your credit card every month or had no idea how much you actually spend on fast food.

Physically writing everything down is a good exercise to get started, but after that, budgeting software or an online tool like Mint can automate that recordkeeping.

In your piece, “7 Do’s and Don’ts for Rookie Investors” for US News, you give some insight into how to start investing in the stock market. What is the number one most important thing to know before buying your first stock?

Never invest money you will need in the next 5-10 years into the stock market. Investing is a long-term strategy. There are very few people who can get rich quick off stocks, and I’m willing to bet you’re not one of them.

In addition to finance, you’ve written in the past about easy ways to save money. What are a few of your favorite ways to cut down on everyday expenses?

Instead of sticking to a strict budget, which I am not a fan of doing, I’ll go on a fiscal fast when I need to cut down on spending. It’s kind of like yo-yo dieting, but without any of the unhealthy consequences.

I also just recently canceled my cable and bought an Amazon Fire TV. That was probably the best financial decision I made this year. I’m now saving $120 a month and am no longer getting sucked into watching terrible E! reality shows.

Thanks so much for answering our questions! Any last words of wisdom for our CouponPal readers?

Always take financial advice (including mine!) with a grain of salt. There are a lot of really smart people out there giving solid advice, but no individual’s entire financial life can be fit into a perfect cookie cut-out.

Like this interview? Check out the rest of our Interview with a Savings Expert series. Have a question for an expert or someone you want to see interviewed? Tweet your suggestions with #SavingsExperts to @CouponPal!

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