Bridgforth, Glinda 1952–
Glinda Bridgforth 1952–
Glinda Bridgforth delivered a wealth of personal expertise and sound fiscal advice in her 2000 book, Girl, Get Your Money Straight: A Sister’s Guide to Healing Your Bank Account and Funding Your Dreams in Seven Simple Steps. An established financial planner and advisor, Bridgforth was once forced to learn her own hard lessons about money management after a divorce and the loss of her job. She struggled to extricate herself from several thousand dollars worth of debt. In her book, Bridgforth writes frankly about her own experiences and helps readers identify and rectify the emotional and cultural reasons that often lurk behind incautious spending and poor budgeting. “The way we deal with money is a reflection of how we feel about ourselves,” Bridgforth told Detroit News writer Melissa Preddy. “Many people who create excessive debt use money as a substance to alter their mood. They need to address the underlying issue instead of trying to find a way to avoid the feelings.”
Bridgforth was born in 1952 in Detroit, Michigan, into a family of six. They lived in southwest Detroit, and she recalled that her childhood was a pleasant one. “I grew up thinking our family was pretty much average and middle class,” she wrote in Girl, Get Your Money Straight. I knew we weren’t poor, because I saw families… who had much less than we did. We owned our home, always had plenty to eat, dressed pretty well, periodically went south on vacation to visit relatives, and even bought a new car every few years.” Only later, she wrote, did she realize how hard her parents worked to achieve that idyllic environment. They were not middle-class, but rather blue-collar, as she was shocked to learn, and their lifestyle came because her father worked two jobs—as a steel-worker and a custodian—and her mother was a skilled budgeter of their limited funds. Her parents scrupulously avoided debt. Bridgforth recalled her father once telling her that “it was not hard to get credit, just hard to pay it back.”
After high school, Bridgforth entered Western Michigan University, and earned a degree in education. Her planned teaching career, however, never materialized, for during school she worked at a local credit union and liked the atmosphere. She began her banking career in earnest after graduation in the mid-1970s, entering a
At a Glance…
Born in 1952 in Detroit, Ml; daughter of Walter (a steelworker and custodian) and Opal Bridgforth; married (divorced, late 1980s). Education: Western Michigan University, B.S., c. 1974.
Career: Began working in banking industry, c. 1976; assistant vice president of California bank until 1988; founded Bridgforth Financial Management Group, c. 1994.
Address: Office —Bridgforth Financial Management Group, 1300 Lafayette East, Ste. 2302, Detroit, Ml 48207.
management trainee program at a California bank. She advanced quickly through the ranks, and a dozen years later was an assistant vice president at the company, managing a $90 million bank unit with 22 employees.
Bridgforth had married a former professional basketball player whose second career was as a sales executive. He was also determined to launch his own business, and Bridgforth supported them while the venture was in its formative stages. They lived in a large house in Oakland Hills, overlooking the San Francisco Bay, had a rental property, and took expensive vacations. “We were making good money, but we were also caught in a vicious cycle; the more we made, the more we wanted—and the more we spent,” she recalled in Girl, Get Your Money Straight. We had lots of fun, but the reality was that we were broke, although we certainly looked good.” A financial emergency involving their rental property served as a wake-up call: a sewer line broke, and they were forced to make an $8,000 repair. “This enormous nonoptional sewer expense was terrifying,” she writes, “because it added pressure beyond the tipping point. This is how I came to see that our financial situation was completely out of control.”
Realizing that she and her husband lived beyond their means, Bridgforth was also troubled by problems at work around this time. She was forced to put in long hours, and began to suffer emotionally. Colleagues and a professional recommended that she take some time off, and while she initially resisted, she acquiesced in the end—and then resigned. She also realized that she had long placed her husband’s life, career, and needs before her own, and by 1988 her marriage had ended. The split left her with $50,000 in debt, at a time when she was on disability, their income property was in foreclosure, and the mortgage on their home was in default. A heavy schedule of therapy and credit counseling saved her. “It was an excruciatingly painful period,” she wrote in her book. “I almost never left the house unless I was going to therapy… or to my financial counselor. I was so ashamed and embarrassed about what I had let happen.”
Bridgforth came to realize that there were certain emotional triggers that had allowed her to overspend and overextend her credit. What had helped heal her, as she wrote, was a “holistic” approach, and she decided that she could use this knowledge to help others. With that in mind, she launched her own company, Bridgforth Financial Management Group, and advertised her services as a financial recovery specialist. She began holding seminars, which evolved into a roster of clients who came to her for financial help. Her services involved meeting one-on-one with them, and guiding them into examining their family history in order to recognize the personal issues that colored their relationship to money. Clients may overspend, as she notes, because they are insecure about their looks, feel frustrated in their job, or are attempting to “buy” love from partner or spouse.
Girl, Get Your Money Straight addresses some specific African American socio-cultural issues related to finance as well. Bridgforth notes that although black women have collectively been members of the American work force for longer than their white counterparts, negative messages still seem to pervade their relationship to money. Her book stresses the positive. “In actuality, black women today are the products of generations of resourceful women and men who held their families together with little support—material or otherwise—and despite a lot of economic deprivation,” she wrote. Nevertheless, this collective self-esteem problem, coupled with the sense that one may never get ahead, are two factors that Bridgforth identifies after working with her clients over the years. She recounts stories from them—one client, for example, felt snubbed by white saleswoman, and so bought an $800 designer outfit to compensate—and narrates their successful mastery of these and other triggers. She notes that while not all women fit such a pattern, “those of us who do overspend are often caught up in an unconscious attempt to make ourselves feel acceptable in a world that often seems to be working against us.”
Bridgforth noted, however, that the advice dispensed in Girl, Get Your Money Straight is designed to appeal to women from all income brackets. “It doesn’t really make a difference what your level of education is or how intelligent you are,” Bridgforth told Miriam Hill in a Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service article. “I hear the same kinds of problems from people making $200,000 as from people making $20,000.” The book earned positive remarks from critics. “While explicitly addressed to black women, this book would be useful to anyone comfortable with feel-good, recovery program lingo and practices,” noted a Publishers Weekly reviewer.
Bridgforth has written for both Essence and Black Enterprise, and maintains company offices in Detroit and Oakland. Her own cautious money management has allowed her the freedom to do so, with the goal of spending time with her now-retired parents. “I’m looking forward to many more days of shopping and get my hair done with Mom and golfing with Dad,” she writes. “Traveling between the two cities is a dream come true for me, and I plan to enjoy it until I decide I want to do something else.” She urges readers to do what she has succeeded in accomplishing: “be in control of the direction of your life and be blessed.”
Bridgforth, Glinda, Girl, Get Your Money Straight: A Sister’s Guide to Healing Your Bank Account and Funding Your Dreams in Seven Simple Steps, Broadway Books, 2000.
Detroit News, January 7, 2001.
Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service, February 14, 2001.
Library Journal, November 1, 2000, p. 101.
Publishers Weekly, November 27, 2000, p. 69.
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