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When you use a barbell strategy, you invest equivalent amounts in short-term and long-term bonds, creating the shape that gives the strategy its name. The goal is to earn more interest than intermediate-term bonds would provide without taking more risk.
For example, you might buy a portfolio of bonds, with some that mature within a year or two and an equal number that mature in 30 years. When the shorter-term bonds come due, you replace them with other short-term bonds.
It's a different approach from laddering your bond investment, often with a portfolio of intermediate-term bonds, so that your bonds mature in a rolling pattern every few years.