This is part two of Bari Tessler’s list of 21 things (which I’ve reduced to 20) that your financial therapist would like you to know.
11. Discover the equation of money, time, energy, family, and health. Bari describes this as a touchstone, something that grounds us. We can come back to it as we make decisions to check in and see what options would align with our values. We can ask ourselves: Do I have the financial, health, time, and energy resources to do this? How will this affect my relationships? It’s good to take some time—when you’re not in crisis or at a major decision point—to consider your values and create your own mission statement.
12. Have compassion for your financial mistakes. It isn’t a matter of “if” you’ll make financial mistakes, but “when” you will, because all of us do. Bari suggests that we offer ourselves some loving grace, compassion, and forgiveness around the mistakes and celebrate every step, every brave leap, every lesson that we learn along the way.
13. Mistakes made are lessons learned. Financial mistakes are not something to beat yourself up over. They are necessary learning opportunities that will lead you to financial wellbeing. The worst thing we can do with a financial mistake is to ignore it. The really important thing isn’t to be sure you don’t make financial mistakes. It’s to be sure that when you do make financial mistakes, you capitalize on that opportunity by learning from them.
14. The biggest money shifts are quiet. Before a money shift can become externally visible, before the behavior changes, a shift has to happen internally. With financial therapy clients, I find that money shifts usually begin pretty deeply as I work with someone to discover the origin of their money scripts. The awareness, understanding, and healing begins internally before it begins to work its way into modifying a behavior.
15. Tiny money shifts add up to big changes. As these deep shifts happen, as these tiny awarenesses begin to grow and accumulate, they often begin to show up externally in small ways. Some people do make big shifts, but typically changes start more incrementally, such as decreasing spending by a few dollars a week. Don’t discount these baby steps. With them, you are strengthening what Bari calls your money muscles and forging a new path forward.
16. Trust your timing, not anyone else’s, especially with money. Comparing ourselves to others is just a setup for emotional disaster. What matters is your timing, your path, your progress. Your path toward financial wellbeing is intensely personal, and there’s no one “right” way to do it.
17. There are ebbs and flows in life and money. Our financial plans and blueprints will always need to be modified, because life is going to change—and it often changes unexpectedly. Financial planning is not a static “one and done,” but an ongoing process. Both positive and painful changes can be difficult to negotiate.
18. Learn a bookkeeping system. As a bookkeeper, Bari contends this is a vital step to your money journey. Almost every one of my clients who is successful around spending less than they earn has a bookkeeping system. This is not necessarily a formal system like Mint or Quicken, but a system whereby they pay their obligations—including taxes and saving for the future as well as fixed expenses like housing and other obligations—first. Then what is left over is lifestyle spending. This is probably the most typical bookkeeping system for those who accumulate money and create financial freedom. You can get all sorts of apps and online bookkeeping systems; what’s important is that it works for you and that you use it.
19. Money can be fun, lighthearted, and joyously creative. Remember, money itself is not inherently good or bad. It’s up to you to decide what your relationship with money looks like. And especially when you learn to pay yourself first as described above, it reduces anxiety and allows you to enjoy and be creative with your lifestyle spending.
20. We all have a money story, but our past doesn’t have to equal our future. Once we understand how the past influences the present, we can make a conscious decision to change the future. This is the point of A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, and why one of my co-authored books is The Financial Wisdom of Ebenezer Scrooge. His relationship with money was fully transformed. Like Scrooge, you can choose to change the outcome of your money story. I have seen hundreds of people do exactly that.
If you want more information on your healing journey, check out Bari Tessler’s book and online course, The Art of Money.
Check out The Financial Therapy Podcast by Rick Kahler concerning this topic.