When’s the last time you heard about money bringing people together?
(Actually, that might take a terribly, horribly long time, so … let’s just continue, shall we?)
Usually, when it comes to money and relationships, we hear about the bad stuff. Siblings who don’t speak anymore because of a nasty inheritance battle. That awkwardness between you and your sweetie over the credit card. Or that group of college friends you stopped talking to when they switched tax brackets (and attitudes).
But here’s the surprising truth I’ve known for a long, long time.
When we get brave, get vulnerable, and really communicate with each other about money, it can actually bring us even closer together than before.
This kind of real communication isn’t what most of us do, when fighting over an inheritance or scoffing at new tax brackets or giving each other the cold shoulder.
I’m talking about dropping our defenses and opening our hearts. Letting go of our own hurts and resentments enough to be genuinely, compassionately curious about the other person … and trusting they’ll do the same, for us.
This is, edgy, brave stuff.
It goes deep, fast. Because money? Is never just about the money. It’s about our sense of safety, the beliefs we inherited in childhood, how much we value ourselves (or how little), whether we’re able to reach out for support, and on and on and on.
When we talk honestly and openly about money, relational miracles happen.
We stop scoffing, “wish I had her money problems!” and hear, for the first time, how hard it’s actually been for our ultra-wealthy friend to claim her own worth. Our hearts melt open, a little.
We stop dismissing our Southern relatives as shortsighted voters … and hear the fear they’re living with, every day (even if we don’t agree with their conclusions).
We mend old rifts, forge new friendships, un-shame, celebrate, encourage, heal, and connect.
I’ve seen these miracles happen since the very beginning of this money work. It happened in the informal women’s circles I led. It happened between couples, as they had Money Dates together. And it’s happened every single year in my global Art of Money community.
But now? I’m so thrilled to see a whole new level of relational money miracles happening, thanks to Art of Money book clubs!!
Long before the manuscript was complete (or even begun), book clubs were part of my dream for my book.
I loved envisioning handfuls of people, across the world, coming together on Saturday mornings or via Skype to sip tea and share their personal experiences and revelations and journeys through the Art of Money methodology.
But before my team and I could organize and announce book clubs, YOU, my dear community, spontaneously created them! How exciting!!
I’m absolutely overflowing with happy over these stories! It’s never been more vivid how this deep money work can ripple out, in powerful ways: it’s bringing people together, across generational divides, political barriers, and even great distances.
Here are three book clubs that spontaneously sprang up around The Art of Money.
I’m so happy they contacted us and shared a bit of their stories! I hope it’ll warm your heart to hear how this work is deepening relationships in some very different ways, configurations, and communities.
And if these stories inspire you to create your own Art of Money book club, stay tuned! We’ll share a lovely How-To Guide in the coming weeks, along with exclusive discussion materials for you.
#1: Liberal Amy + Conservative Dad
I first saw Amy’s book club on Instagram, touted as #worldssmallestbookclub — ha! I adore her story:
For the past few years, my dear old Dad (#republican, #trumpvoting, #conservative soul that he is) & I (#tenstepsfromsocialist #pantsuitnation #bernielove ‘n #dirtworshipper ) have been reading #books together. Each season a new tome. A new dip into philosophical seas. We hop on the phone every week or every other – share how do you do’s and get down to business. And I continue to be amazed and heartened by the conversations that ensue. The quiet revelations. The truth telling. The hearts spoken. The pith and pulp gradually sifted until there is nothing left but deep, god’s honest words.
He won’t see these words I know and so I speak them more to Gracious Void::: I am grateful for a man in my life who (although he views the world quite differently than me) provides wise counsel and deep love as I navigate the path of this life. I am grateful for books like this that inspire deep and heartfelt conversation. That do the difficult task of bringing us into turbulent waters and help us navigate the depths found there. I am grateful for our little book club.
Amy then shared a little more with me, behind the scenes:
My Dad and I have been at this book club thing for a couple years now — with different tomes to plumb. And so far, the discussions generated with The Art of Money have been some of the most heartfelt, most vulnerable, most poignant and most powerful.”
I’m absolutely thrilled that Amy and her Dad — two radically different people — are finding common ground through this work. They’re providing a model for us all.
#2: Creative Kat and her Li’l Sis
If you’ve read The Art of Money, you might remember the story of Kat: the woman who put “creativity” on her monthly budget, only to quickly notice how little she was actually living this value. The happy ending of her story was how this realization led to a mega life transformation, where she began prioritizing creativity more than ever before.
Well, this was a true story from one of my very first students, from way back in my Conscious Bookkeeping days, back in Berkeley.
The coolest part about this story — which isn’t in the book — is that Kat has continued doing deep money work ever since! And now, she’s sharing it with her little sister in their own Art of Money book club.
Kat and Mabel might look like twins (here they are at Kat’s wedding), but they’re actually ten years apart. Their whole family moved to the United States from the Philippines when Kat was 14 and Mabel was just 4 years old.
Despite their age difference, the sisters share a sweet, close relationship — which is only getting stronger, thanks to the deep money conversations they’re now having. As Kat shares,
I’m so grateful that after 12+ years of doing your work/process, I get to share it with my little sis. I have been amazed by how she just embraced the book … the releasees she’s had from doing the work of shedding light on some shadow parts of her money past are just amazing. We’ve cried on FaceTime together as she shared with me what she uncovered. It’s been really so healing for her and me. And I’m sure that by us doing this work, we’re also healing our family and paving the path to even more beautiful money stories, now and in the future.”
I love how, even when people have known each other their whole lives, getting honest about money opens up brand-new possibilities and conversations.
#3: An Eclectic Friend Group in Boston
Just look at these smiling faces!!
Rene and Lumina, a married couple in Boston, have long been fans of this work, and even participated in my year-long Art of Money program. So when I came to Boston last summer for a book reading, they invited their local friends and community members to come. After that rich first meeting, they invited the attendees to continue the conversation in their home — and it’s become a lovely, ongoing book club.
They meet every few months, in Rene and Lumina’s living room, once the kids are tucked in bed. Their small group of about half a dozen members includes a homeschooling mother-gardener-community activist; an artist-freelancer-single mother in her forties; and of course Rene and Lumina: 30-something parents of two young children.
As always in groups like these, all of the members have their unique set of challenges, gifts, and goals for their money work. One member joined the group because she was taking on her elderly mother’s complex finances — though now, she says she wishes she had realized earlier in life that financial literacy was important even (or especially!) when she only had her own modest income to think about. Another member shares that she never learned anything about money, growing up — except that that there was never enough of it. And Rene and Lumina, as young parents with a multi-cultural family, are devoted to getting a handle on their finances to make their family life more intentional and peaceful. Lumina shares,
Most participants have reported being able to move past money blocks from having the discussion and accountability of the group. It’s great to have people it is safe to talk about money with, it’s too rare!”
This is another beautiful example of a diverse community of women and men — from different ethnic, socioeconomic, and cultural backgrounds — coming together to get honest and connect through deep money work. I love it!!
This feels like the beginning of something big.
Especially given today’s political climate, I think it’s more important than ever that we communicate honestly and compassionately with people who have different views, backgrounds, and stories than us. I’m simply thrilled to see my book helping springboard people into deeper intimacy with each other.
How ‘bout you? Are you conjuring some Art of Money magic, too?
We’d love to hear what you’re up to, who’s in your group, what your favorite finger foods are, and what you’ve gained from the experience. Please share a photo of your group on social media, and tag us with #BariTessler and #ArtofMoney so we see it!
Want to start your own book club? Yay!!
My team and I are busy-busy, behind the scenes, working on a special How-To Guide for you. It’ll include how to get started, suggested guidelines, and discussion prompts. We’ll be sharing this on my blog in the next few weeks, so stay tuned. (And make sure you’re subscribed to my newsletter list, so you don’t miss it.)