This is the book your money–savvy best friend, therapist, and accountant would write if they could. It’s the book about money for people who don’t even want to think about money, until the arrival of that inevitable day when we all realize we must come to terms with this thing called money.
Everyone has pain and challenges, strengths and dreams about money, and many of us mix profound shame into that relationship. In The Art of Money, Bari Tessler offers an integrative approach that creates the real possibility of "money healing," using our relationship with money as a gateway to self–awareness and a training ground for compassion, confidence, and self–worth.
Tessler’s gentle techniques weave together emotional depth, big picture visioning, and refreshingly accessible, nitty–gritty money practices that will help anyone transform their relationship with money and, in so doing, transform their life. As Bari writes, "When we dare to speak the truth about money, amazing healing begins."
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About the Author
Her unique methodology integrates these two worlds within a deeply healing context, and it celebrates the multi–faceted, transformative power of working directly with our money relationship. Bari’s integrative approach to deep money work weaves together emotional healing and real–world practices within the context of each individual’s unique life story. She honors money as a gateway to self–awareness, a path of mindfulness, a bridge between our inner and outer worlds, and a training ground for compassion, confidence, and self–worth. Her approach is gentle, un–shaming, and playful. Bari and her family live in Boulder, Colorado.
Read an Excerpt
An Elephant Worth Friending
You believe a good life is a conscious one. You reflect deeply, question the status quo, and infuse your decisions with good intentions. You might not have it all figured out, but you’re pretty sure the meaning of life has something to do with being as loving, compassionate, and mindful as possible, in big choices and teensy ways, every day: from smiling at passersby to being a conscious parent to finding a way to make a big, positive impact on the world with your one beautiful life.
Normally, you’ll look the toughest taboo in the eye. (Heck: you’ll pour it a glass of wine and share a few laughs.) From body image to spirituality, diet to a meaningful career, you’ve gotten brave, gotten honest, and worked to create healthier, more intimate and mindful relationships with yourself, with others, and with the different aspects of your life.
But there’s one nagging exception. An area of your life that you’d rather not think about, let alone talk about. One last taboo that can still turn your palms sweaty and give you that icky, pit-in-the-stomach feeling. It’s the elephant in the room.
Money was the elephant in the room during that family dinner when you announced your new career—and watched your parents panic. Money was the elephant sitting between you and your sweetie that weekend you gave each other the cold shoulder after fighting about whether to take a vacation this year. Money was the elephant in the room when you berated yourself after splurging on those boots you weren’t sure you could afford.
Probably, money has been the elephant in the room your whole life. Because here’s the truth: no one has taught you how to really deal with him.
You’ve tried following mainstream “money guru” frameworks and creating super-strict budgets to whip the elephant into submission. But you inevitably fall off the wagon and feel like a failure.
You’ve toyed with more spiritual ideas of “money as energy” and tried to cultivate a mindset of abundance. But without grounded practices and financial know-how, this quickly devolved into mere wishful thinking.
You’ve tried turning your back on the elephant, sticking your head in the sand, and tossing bank statements, unread, straight into the trash. But the elephant is still there . . . and ignoring him is getting awkward.
You’re not alone. When I introduce myself as a “financial therapist,” someone who helps people with their relationship to money, I invariably get the response, “Oooooh, I need that!” Since teaching my first financial workshop in a cozy living room over fifteen years ago, I have been fascinated to learn that absolutely everyone, regardless of age, race, gender, economic background, or musical taste, has shame and stuck places around money. Yet we also all have our strengths, dreams, and gifts in the financial realm.
Money isn’t just about the numbers: it’s also about our relationship with ourselves. In order to shift our relationship with money, then, we must untangle old patterns and challenge our assumptions about ourselves. This is tender work, and I have learned that a nurturing, gentle, and radically un-shaming approach is the only way. The compassionate path is far, far more effective in creating sustainable transformation than the self-critical one. Yes, it’s challenging! Yet when we embark on this journey, we can also cultivate greater awareness, peace, and joy than we ever thought possible.
Along my journey with money, both as a financial therapist and in my personal life, I have reexamined the toxic and unhelpful idea that money isn’t “spiritual” or compatible with a creative life. I have learned, instead, that building a healthy relationship with money helps ground all aspects of life. If you already have a mindfulness practice, expanding it to include how you handle money will strengthen it by leaps and bounds, and if you don’t have a mindfulness practice, money is, perhaps surprisingly, a beautiful place to start.
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While nothing is taboo in my approach to money (and all of you is welcome here), there are certain aspects of money that you won’t find thoroughly examined in this book, simply because they’re not my specialty. One of these is the “macro” side of money: the long lens and big picture view of global economics, historical trends, systems, social activism, and cultural structures. This “macro” side of money is real, worthwhile, and important stuff, and I love learning more about it from my favorite economists (see the Resources section for some suggested reading). Yet the methodology outlined in this book focuses first and foremost inside rather than outside, on what I call the “micro” side of money: our individual, internal relationship with money. I’ve chosen this approach because it makes the most sense to me—yet also because I’ve seen, over and over again, just how powerful it is. Like a pebble falling into a still pond, the benefits of personal money work ripple out into our close relationships, larger communities, and beyond. You heal an old money wound deep inside . . . then find a little more patience for your sweetie during his money freakout . . . then he makes a brave financial choice at work . . . and the ripples continue onward and outward. From this deeply intimate starting point, then, we can create a global conscious money movement. Goodness knows, we could use one.
I emphasize these deep places within our money relationship, rich with personal meaning, because in my experience, unless we first turn within and heal our emotional relationship with money, no external changes (no matter how savvy) will stick.
However, I also love teaching the practical, external side of money, and have learned how empowering and important this is. Put nuts on bolts, tighten them down, and get things done. In this book, then, you will find many of the money practices and tools I’ve found indispensable—yet I will always invite you to make these practices your own, and to define financial maturity, success, and ease for yourself. You might end up learning how to “spend less and save more” in this book, but it won’t be in the way you think . . . and it certainly won’t be the main thing you learn. Together, we will approach money in ways that nourish your body, mind, and spirit as much as your bank account. · · · · ·
In that first money workshop I taught many years ago, one woman joked nervously, “It’s easier to talk about my sex life than my credit score!” While I passionately advocate for more openness and honesty about money, I also realize how difficult this can be. That’s why, from the start, I’ve taught about money through sharing my own money challenges, riddles, and triumphs. This book is full of these stories, as well as the stories of some of the many different kinds of people I’ve encountered in this work, from young to old, broke to flush, urban mid-career professionals to rural farmers. My hope is that these stories will inspire you to shine compassionate light on your own Money Story. Because when we speak the truth about money, deep healing happens. Taboos are broken, veils lift, and radiance breaks forth.
I believe our money work is never done, but rather evolves, right along with us, from cradle to grave —and I am no exception to this rule. That’s why, in this book, I share so openly about my challenges and lessons learned about money, both past and present.
That said, I have moved mountains within my relationship to money. I have deepened my understanding of value, worth, and right livelihood, and applied these concepts to my own life in profound and practical ways. I have broken through one “money ceiling” after the next, growing a business that is both financially sustainable and creatively fulfilling, providing for my family and serving my community. I have reexamined old money wounds from my upbringing and deepened my compassion for my parents (and their relationships with money). I have strengthened my marriage and parenting through open, intimate conversations about money. I have made my money practices my own by infusing them with body-based mindfulness, playfulness, and dark chocolate. Through all of this, I have become a seasoned guide through the emotional, practical, and psycho-spiritual facets of this thing we call money. I have looked this elephant in the eye . . . and now show others how they, too, can sit down with him, pour a cuppa, and make friends.
Throughout this book, you will be invited to look deeply within yourself. You will create beautiful, meaningful practices and rituals around money. You will draw upon what matters most to you for guidance. You will cultivate your value, challenge your perfectionism, celebrate each tiny victory, and apply mega-doses of self-love, forgiveness, and un-shaming.
Deep money work isn’t magic. It’s conscious transformation: tiny step after tiny step, day by day, breath by breath.
If you are nervous, terrified, or skeptical—it’s OK.
If you are excited and hopeful—it’s OK.
If you are overwhelmed, numb, impatient, irritated, lonely, or grieving—it’s OK.
Engaging with money this way is a rare, fulfilling, and challenging journey. Yes, there may be rough spots. _e road may twist; we might traverse a foggy patch when we can’t see the way ahead. But we will also laugh and rest and take dark chocolate breaks along the way.
Deep breath. Take my hand. Here we go . . . .
Table of ContentsTable of Contents
Money: An Initiation
The Eight Money Areas
The Three Phases of Deep Money Work
Phase One: Money Healing
Chapter One: Healing Money Shame
Chapter Two: The Body Check–In
Chapter Three: Your Money Story
Chapter Four: Forgiveness, Completions & Letting Go
Chapter Five: Creating Rituals
Chapter Six: It’s Never Just About the Money
Phase Two: Money Practices
Chapter 7: Crossing the Bridge
Chapter 8: Money as a Self–Care Practice
Chapter 9: The Spiritual Level of a Money Practice
Chapter 10: The Art of the Money Date
Chapter 11: Values–Based Bookkeeping
Chapter 12: Savvy Practices & Financial Support Teams
Mini–: Manifesto: Do You Know How Brave You Are?
Phase Three: Money Maps
Chapter 13: The Three–Tier Money Map
Chapter 14: Visioning + Dancing with Your Money Map
Chapter 15: How to Make a Good Money Decision
Chapter 16: Money Koans
Chapter 17: Money Legacy