Barbara Friedberg – Best of the Best Blogger Series

In the 55th edition of our Best of the Best Blogger series, we’re bringing you Barbara Friedberg from

Barbara has a remarkable success story that really began with the huge impact that her parents had on her as financial role models.  Barbara’s parents were Depression-era born and raised, and not surprisingly, both had a commitment to hard work and saving money that made an indelible imprint on Barbara.

Her Dad was tremendously resourceful with a keen, opportunistic eye as an entrepreneur, pursuing a number of profitable mini-ventures as a young college student.  When he found out his university was selling “pre-owned” pianos at a discount, he bought all of them and flipped them for a tidy profit, selling them within the surrounding local community.   He took that profit and paid himself first before doing anything else with the money, saving a healthy chunk of his profits.

Paying yourself first is a critical, wealth building strategy and core value that Barbara has taken to heart in her personal and professional life, saying “I grew up believing that saving was a normal byproduct of [earning an income].”

Over the years, her parents work and life habits led to a gradual accumulation of wealth, another critical observation that did not get lost on her.  As a budding entrepreneur herself, yet another vital lesson she learned from her parents was the idea of always being on the lookout for additional income opportunities.

She has undoubtedly been very successful at integrating these money habits into her own life, but Barbara’s success can’t all be attributed to Mom and Dad.  She went on to earn a degree in Economics as well as Masters degrees in Finance and Counseling, working successfully across a wide variety of occupational areas in her career.  She has significant work and life experience as a college professor (Santa Clara University), a career counselor, and even has loads of experience as an asset and portfolio manager.

We sat down with Barbara recently to talk about paying yourself first, economic bubbles and playing the lottery every week.

Good blogging requires more time, effort and resources than most people give it credit for.   What inspired you to start blogging?

In 2008, I received my MBA in finance from Penn State and my daughter was in her freshman year at college. My scheduled opened up a bit, the mortgage meltdown was trashing the U.S. economy, and at my husband’s urging, I decided to write a personal finance book to help investors make more money and avoid the systemic economic bubbles. I wrote several chapters, met with some publishers, and continued to receive the same feedback.  “Your concept and writing are sound, but you need a platform.”  In other words, where is your following and to whom you will market the book?

Barbara FriedbergThe idea of blogging began to emerge, from a friend and also from a former professor. I was under the (mistaken) impression that all I had to do was write two articles every week, and over time I would build a community to whom I could market my book.

Needless to say, Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance became bigger, more important, and very time consuming, but a great platform to dispense invaluable personal finance information. And the book is finally out, How to Get Rich: Wealth Building for the Financially Illiterate.

You’ve talked about the impact of your parents and their “pay yourself first” mentality that was so indelibly imprinted upon you.  As American consumers, how and why have we made that such a hard discipline to adhere to?

My Master’s degree in Counseling gives me a unique perspective on “mind and money”.  Modeling, or behaviors we observe growing up, are extremely important influences on our adult decision-making. For individuals without strong money mentors, advertisers, television, and the consumer driven society create the message that “we are what we own.”

So, we believe if we drive an old car, dress simply, live frugally, we are “less than.”  This incorrect mentality, along with parents who took on too much debt and a belief that their worth as parents was tied to how much money and material goods they showered on their children created adults without the skills, knowledge, and motivation to live beneath their means.

Aside from your parents, who are your top 3 most influential financial minds that have had the most impact on you?

  • William Bernstein (The Intelligent Asset Allocator)
  • Peter Lynch
  • Zvi Bodie (Investments)
  • Bernard Malkiel (Random Walk Down Wall Street)

You have a ton of work-related money management experience.  You’re an MBA, a college professor and you also have experience as a portfolio manager.  How much of your financial success can you attribute to your professional background and knowledge?

What a great question. Certainly a portion of my financial success rests with my portfolio management experience and academic background. But as I teach in my book, a smart lifestyle and investing decisions can lead to hundreds of thousands of dollars in wealth over time (even $1,000,000+). By making wiser money decisions every day, being patient, investing regularly in a retirement account, and avoiding stupid money drains such as playing the lottery every week, wealth is within the grasp of the majority of Americans.

From your experience, what is the most common financial “blind spot” that most people struggle with?

Where should I start? There are so many. If I had to choose one, it would be not keeping track of how a person spends their money. If you don’t know where your money is going, it is quite difficult to choose how to best spend it. And the second “blind spot” is not spending consciously in accord with your values. If you don’t get pleasure from your spending, cut it out!
For example, is it worth $1,400 (350 days multiplied by $4.00 per day) per year to buy a $4.00 Starbucks every day? Brew coffee at home for pennies a cup and invest the $1,400 per year, every year during your working life and you add $279,489 to your retirement fund ($1,400 invested every year for 40 years earning 7% annually in a diversified stock index mutual fund).

Given you experience with personal finance, what’s your stance on the use of credit cards?

Personally, I love credit cards, as long as you pay off the balance in full every month. If you do not have the discipline to pay off your card balance completely every month, you should not use a credit card. If you have the discipline to pay the balance in full monthly, there are financial rewards (cash back or gift cards) which you can use for regular expenses such as gas and toiletries.

Additionally, if you use budgeting software such as Quicken and download your credit card data, it is very easy to categorize, review and adjust your spending.

I’d like to express my sincere gratitude to Barbara for spending the time with us today. Continued success in all of your endeavors Barb!