5 ways to make a remorse-free money decision.

written by Bari Tessler November 11, 2016
how to make a good money decision

Has your cursor ever hovered over the “buy now” button for an embarrassingly long time?

Do you sometimes get stuck in “analysis paralysis” as you try to make a money decision … fearing the dreaded “coulda shoulda woulda” syndrome?

How can you make a money decision that feels so good, you’re patting yourself on the back, the next day, the next week, the next year?

In fact, what does it even mean, to “make a good money decision?”

Many of us want to get better at making money decisions, but haven’t slowed down to consider what that would actually look like — to us, in our own lives, right now.

Making money decisions is an emotional, practical, and strategic affair.

This is a huge topic — and an incredibly subjective one, at that. It’s a springboard into inquiry on many levels. So rather than attempt a one-size-fits-all framework for making money decisions, today, I’d like to share a few different approaches.

Here are three ultra-short stories to help you start thinking about what “making a good money decision” means to you.



1. How on Earth do you make a good money decision?

Are you craving a simple framework? Want me to just flip to the back of the teacher’s guide and show you the answer to “how can I make a good money decision”?

Well, it’s never that easy. (But you knew that already, right?)

This is incredibly subjective territory. What constitutes a “good money decision” will differ radically based upon your values, your numbers, what phase of life you’re in, whether you’re making this decision alone or with a partner … and on and on.

BUT, those disclaimers aside, here’s a simple framework of five factors to consider when making a money decision. I’ve used it everywhere from the consignment store to the car dealership. Enjoy!

How on Earth do you make a good money decision?

As always, take what serves you … and leave the rest.

2. Why I hyperventilated at the car dealership: a live case-study in making money decisions.

For many years, my husband and I were proud to be a one-car family. But a couple years ago, it started becoming clear: this just wasn’t going to work, anymore. We needed a second car.

This was a HUGE money decision for us. We had to take into account our short-term, medium-term, and long-term numbers. We had to consider our environmental values. We had to find a way to come together, communicate, and negotiate — because, like any couple, we have two whole people’s worth of desires, fears, and priorities.

Thankfully, Forest and I have well over a decade of money conversations under our belt. So we were able to talk everything through and make this huge decision extremely quickly.

Here’s the framework we used, smack dab in the middle of the car dealership, to make a money decision we still feel thrilled about.

3. The legend of the Kate Spade slingbacks.

My co-writer, Angela, still talks about the evening she saw them. Like a dramatic scene in a romance film, her eyes fell upon them from across a crowded department store … and the world seemed to stop for one sublime instant.

They were crimson patent leather, open-toed, Kate Spade slingback heels. It was love at first fitting. But they were almost $300, and she had never paid more than $50 for a pair of shoes. (I know I’d wear them with dressy stuff and even jeans … but that’s just too much, she told herself.) So she left the store without them. Now, 7 years and countless crummy shoes later, she says she’s still haunted by them.

What we can learn from this:
Nobody can tell you what a “good money decision” is — except YOU. So many of us have a strange, unconscious fear that we’ll make a money decision … and then someone will yell at us or tell us we’re doing things wrong. First? That likely won’t happen. And second? All that matters is that you are clear about your decisions.

Also: sometimes, spending a little more can save us money, in the long-term (if we can swing it).

And: making a money decision isn’t just about the numbers. It’s about our emotions, what phase of life we’re in … and the numbers. It’s a multi-faceted affair. And how you solve it is just as personal as what you decide.

4. The triumph of the House Sparklers.

Christopher and his wife, Annie, had both battled health problems for a long time. Neither of them had the time or energy to tackle the dishes, laundry, vacuuming, and other housework — and their messy home only stressed and drained them even more.

With a flash of inspiration, Christopher saw a way through this impossible situation. It wasn’t a straight line … it was round and feminine. It was a series of three pots.

(No, really!)

Christopher came up with the “3 pots method” for making a money decision — one of my absolute favorite methods, ever. It’s featured in my book, but if you don’t have a copy, read an adaptation of the story right here:

How to Make a Great Money Decision: The 3 Pots Method.

5. What’s black and blue and HOME all over?

Sometimes, making a money decision is complex. Like: really really complex. And you long for the days of simply deciding whether or not to eat at that new Thai place tonight, if it’s time to hire a new bookkeeper … or if you should splurge on those red slingbacks.

My family and I faced one of our biggest money decisions ever, recently. It was a riddle we sat with, for many years. Or, to borrow a phrase from the Buddhists, it was a money “koan”: a mind-scrambling riddle that changes you, when you ask it.

The decision? Whether or not to buy a house in Boulder.

We finally made our decision … but it took a ton of work to get here.

Read the full story — with suggestions for how to solve your “money koans” right here:

How to solve your money koans.


So: are you struggling with any money decisions, right now?

I invite you to pick one decision that’s “up” for you, in your life. Consider what framework might work well for solving it. The 3 Pots method? The 5 Factors Approach? Or contemplating it as a “money koan”? (Remember: not all money decisions are solved in the same way.)

Spend a little time with this decision. You might want to journal about it for 5 minutes or more. And as always: do a Body Check-In before, during, and/or after.

Here’s to you and your wonderful money decision-making abilities!

With my dearest wishes,



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