Sydney Hedberg

For those who missed the memo on properly managing their finances, author Sydney Hedberg's Barneys, Bergdorfs, & Bill$ is an essential bookshelf addition.

Oil and gas brought Hedberg to Houston after she graduated from the University of Mississippi. Today, she's based in New York City, where she works as an O&G broker in the insurance industry, but Houston has a special place in her heart as “such a great city filled with wonderful people,” she said. In 2015, she penned her "Girlfriend's Guide to Finance" to break down what many consider an intimidating topic.

“No matter your gender, age, career, we all have bills,” Hedberg said.

The first-time author said it’s a great feeling to know your name is sitting on a book on someone’s bedside table and, even moreso, that it’s helping people.

On how the book came to life:

“Upon graduation, my Tri Delta sisters began coming to me with finance related questions. I was happy to help but thought there should be a simple 'girlfriend's guide' out there for every girl/woman to be able to reference. BB&B came to fruition out of necessity. I began jotting down topics beginning with the foundations, such as supply and demand and interest rates. I then moved into the 'real life' stuff, such as credit scores, buying insurance, etc. You know, the fun stuff.”

On the lack of formal financial education:

Even as a finance major, I wasn’t exposed to personal finance classes. Macro or micro economics focus on theories such as supply and demand, [and] understanding the basics is important, but it isn’t practical to real life. We should be starting classes like these in high school. Knowing how to amortize a bond might be relevant to some, but learning how to file your taxes and understand your insurance is more applicable and will help people further down the road. Also, a lot of kids don’t learn this at home. Unless they have a strong drive to learn these topics on their own, they are going to be at a disadvantage in the future.”

On young adults' No. 1 financial pitfall:

“Digging themselves into debt. Student loans could be the next bubble. Young, driven individuals are eager to go to college to create a wonderful career and life for themselves and their family. Lenders are eager to pass out those funds. However, the burden is heavy, and I am not sure students always realize how difficult it will be to dig themselves out. Couple that with credit card debts, it can be very overwhelming. Live below your means. Pay off your debts as soon as possible.”

On financial advice for young people:

“Reign in the spending. The social media influence keeps us yearning for more–and I am guilty of that!–wanting that new bag or shoes. But life is hopefully quite long, and it’s expensive. Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it sure buys everything else. Warren Buffett, one of the greatest investors ever, said, 'It's insane to risk what you have and need for something you really don't need.' This quote was focused around investing in stocks, but it holds true with anything. Buying a Chanel bag instead of paying your mortgage is insane. Be pragmatic. Your future self will thank you!” 

On the goal of Barneys, Bergdorfs and Bill$:

“To make people feel more confident when facing their finances. A girl reached out to me who works at a non-profit in my hometown. She, like many, has a massive amount of student loans to pay–another class you should have in college is how to dig yourself out of this debt. She told me she was completely overwhelmed before reading the book. But with the simplification and looking at her debt from a less overwhelming lens, she developed a plan to tackle it a little at a time. It is quite humbling to see such hard-working people become more confident. I feel lucky to have the opportunity to provide a slight helping hand.”

On what she admires in other female entrepreneurs: 

“Support for others. Tearing someone else down will never build you up. I love when women–and men–are in competition with themselves and no one else. Propping people up, being kind and thoughtful, is vital. Success won’t feel as sweet if you stepped on a lot of people on the way up.”

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