Like many WBO members, Barbara Freedenberg is also a woman whose career path took several surprising turns, ultimately leading her to become a highly specialized and totally different type of professional in recent years.
Barbara grew up in a small town near New York’s Catskill Mountains. Her father was a CPA and, while working with him, she discovered early that she liked business, especially numbers. She graduated from college with a B.S. in Nursing and later, as an adult, worked for 17 years as a practice administrator in her first husband’s dental practice. She enjoyed the billing, financial documentation issues, and insurance claims processing that her job involved. Suddenly widowed in 2001, she had to learn how to manage her own personal and business finances. Barbara became her own Daily Money Manager, organizing and learning to understand her own financial situation, in addition to maintaining the dental practice’s marketability and doing whatever was necessary to transition it for a new owner.
Almost five years ago, Barbara decided to become a professional organizer for health care and medical records. She named her business Files In Order, LLC and attended senior networking groups. While at a meeting, she was directed to the Daily Money Managers’ web site and realized that she had a needed skill set that could provide assistance for seniors who, as they age, often require help managing their daily finances. She became a member of the American Association of Daily Money Managers, and an active member of The Maryland-DC Regional Group of Daily Money Managers. Barbara likes to say she “ensures peace of mind for seniors, families and time-pressed professionals.”
“I work with clients of all ages who need help managing their daily finances,” says Barbara. “Most are seniors who may be experiencing cognitive or physical changes that prohibit them from paying bills on time, getting through the paperwork, planning/budgeting expenses, and negotiating with creditors.” She provides the help they need while also protecting them from financial abuse or identity theft.
Barbara works as part of a team of professionals –- geriatric care managers, accountants, elder/estate planning attorneys, wealth management advisors and others, who make it possible for her clients to “age in place.” She helps them organize tax documents and makes estimated tax payments on time. Clients may need a will or a trust updated. They may need money from assets to support a lifestyle that has changed due to health issues. Barbara has made referrals to estate attorneys when clients need to have assets named into a trust to protect them from probate. She also provides “in-home bookkeeping, health care records/insurance claims processing services, prepares and makes bank deposits, reconciles checking accounts and credit card statements, and serves as her clients’ advocate between legal, investment, tax or other financial professionals.”
Barbara, who carries liability and cyber insurance (because she pays some clients’ bills on line), is always aware that her clients’ needs are unique and changing. Her clients appreciate her compassion and understanding of their needs. They may have had issues with not paying bills on time or writing incorrect amounts on checks. Some have never had experience doing their financial tasks; others may have been quite savvy until cognitive changes made financial independence difficult. Barbara says, “I treat my clients as if they were my family,” and she works hard to keep them safe. “I like looking out for my clients’ best interests. If they don’t have children or their children live far away, someone is watching out for their mom and dad.”
A WBO member for approximately 1½ years, Barbara likes “being with a group of very intelligent, successful women who are growing their businesses, helping others, or giving back to the community through their business.” A resident of Montgomery County 1981, Barbara feels very fortunate that her children and their families live in the area as well. Now remarried, Barbara likes cooking, socializing with friends and family, exercising, and playing with her 14-month-old grandson.
Ellen R. Cohen is a free-lance writer and editor whose “editorial advertising” helps her clients advertise their goods and services in a variety of ways. She can be reached at (301) 984-7444.