How To Create Your End-of-Year Money Ritual – Part One: Looking Back

written by Bari Tessler December 20, 2013

Golden Nugget #8: Money Maps

Ah, the end of another year. Farewells. Fresh beginnings. Celebrations + heartfelt hopes.

As this year ends, so does another chapter of your money story. Wherever you’re at with money — single, married, or entrepreneur; seasoned pro or terrified to even look at your numbers — this is a wonderful time to slow down, check in with yourself, review the year, and set intentions for next year.

It’s easy to get swept up in the season’s energy of new beginnings. But before you skip to resolutions and goals for next year, carve out some time to honor the year you’ve just completed. By looking back on your year with love, honesty, and gentleness, you’ll build an essential foundation for next year.

So to help you start the new year on a strong financial footing … to make the most of lessons learned … to celebrate your accomplishments (the grand and the mini!) … and to lavish yourself with all the love and appreciation this act of courage entails … allow me to guide you in an annual financial review.

Set the Stage. Make it Your Own.

“Annual financial review.” How does that phrase feel, in your body? About as much fun as a root canal? Old hat? Dry and boring? New, but a little exciting?

Ponder this:
What does this money event need to include to feel oh-so good, to you?

Does it need to feel sacred and meaningful? Create a mini-alter just for the occasion.
Are beauty and sensuality essential? Bring on the chocolate and candles and velvet.
Is playfulness the missing element? Start things off with a dance party, glitter, + cupcakes.

Bring your honey — or go solo. Take an hour — or a whole day.

Grab a pen and favorite notebook. (Or Google Doc!) Curl up on the couch — or go out under the stars.

Remember: there’s no “right” way to do this. Except the one that feels right to you. Let this be a gift to yourself — instead of a dusty obligation. Make it your own!

Okay . . . ready?

We’ll review this current year in 3 stages:
1. Zoom Out
2. The Numbers
3. The Celebrations

Phase One: Zoom out

In the Big Picture of your personal money story, what was 2013 all about? Run the year through your mind. Contemplate for a moment. What were the big highlights, in terms of your finances — and your relationship to money?

Here are some prompts to help you get rolling:

  • What were the general themes, this year? Risk, letting go, transition, perseverance?
  • Did you start this year with a Big Picture plan? Or was it a year to go with the flow?
  • Did you have big transitions this year? Marriage, separation, new baby, change of career, loss of a parent, or inheritance?
  • Did you make a big investment this year? A car, house, or big vacation?
  • Did you pay off a debt? Take more on? Start or add to your savings?
  • Did you have a money practice this year? Daily, weekly, or monthly? Did you fall in love with some new software? How did your money practice (or lack thereof) affect you?
  • What about your emotional relationship to money this year? Did you peek at your numbers for the first time in ages? Celebrate money healing breakthroughs? Start talking to your honey about money?
  • What really worked for you this year? What are you most proud of? What are you ready to let go of, forgive, or change?

Take a breath. Sit with the feeling of 2013. Contemplate the themes you’ve uncovered. Honor yourself for everything you’ve gone through this year. (Nibble chocolate and take dance breaks as needed, here!)

Phase Two: The Numbers

Yep. Get out those Income and Expense reports. Look at Quicken or bank statements or whatever system you use.

Breathe here. Add chocolate. And body check-ins. Stay as grounded and heart-open as you can.

For most of us, it’s not easy to look at numbers. If you feel uncomfortable, add a huge dose of compassion and understanding. You are SO brave. Like: ticker-tape-parades and marching bands and high-fives-from-your-favorite-rockstar brave. Feel that. Let it soak in.

Now. Here are a few invitations for you. Courageous wonder that you are!

  • Look at your income. And take a deep breath.
  • Look at your expenses. Take another deep breath.
  • If you set intentions or projections at the beginning of this current year, take them out. Compare what you’d planned a year ago to what actually happened.
  • Were your goals realistic? Did they uplift and empower you? Or did you feel limited, constricted, overwhelmed, or set up for disappointment?
  • Take an inventory. Which goals and values are you living right now? What’s working for you? What’s not?
  • How about your emotions? How are you feeling about this process, right now? How have you grown or changed in your relationship to money this year?
  • What did you learn about yourself?

Ooof. You did it! Great work. Give yourself a big hug and kiss for being willing to look at your numbers and learn from them.

*If you feel completely lost when you read “income and expense reports,” and have no clue where to look … just do the best you can here. And: you may want to consider what you need, moving forward, to get better clarity around you numbers. A financial tracking system. A great bookkeeper. New sacred money practices. A loving community to connect you with resources and keep you engaged with your numbers. There’s help.

Phase Three: Celebration

This is oh-so-easy to skip over. Go-getters may think, “No time to celebrate! More to do!” Self-improvers and personal growth devotees may say, “On to the next phase! I’m not done growing yet!” And if you tend towards self-criticism, you may dismiss this step, saying, “Nothing to celebrate here,” and spiral into everything you did wrong.

Dig a little deeper.
I promise you: this year had victories. And they’re waiting to be celebrated. I know this. I see it over and over with the people in my Art of Money community. The small baby steps you take — that’s what can add up to huge changes!

This is so essential. Please remember to honor yourself. To remember and name and celebrate all of the little baby steps you’ve taken.

Get them down on paper. Nibble on chocolate. Do a little victory dance. You deserve this!

Need help getting started? Here are some examples of baby steps worth celebrating. (Many from clients or mine who initially couldn’t think of anything to celebrate!)

  • Finding and canceling those small expenses you’re not using anymore: gym membership, video rentals, etc.
  • Saying “no” to business or personal growth investments from a place of consciousness + empowerment.
  • … Or saying “yes” to investments, from a place of consciousness + empowerment!
  • Peeking at your numbers more often. Simply looking at your account balances online, regularly, can be a huge cause for celebration!
  • Having Money Dates or check-ins with your honey … and it’s getting more frequent and easy
  • Forgiving yourself around past money experiences or decisions
  • Re-jigging your bookkeeping system to reflect your values
  • Setting up a great system for tracking and reviewing your numbers
  • Creating your own money practice — a regular weekly or monthly money date with yourself.

Got a good list of victories worth celebrating? Keep writing.

Your money story is a living, breathing aspect of you. So it’s always evolving, growing, maturing … unfolding right along with you.

Take time to honor everything that happened in your financial life during 2013. Goals met. Lessons learned. Hardships faced. Victories. Baby steps. Disappointments. Fresh starts.

Can you “be with” all of this? Do you have loose ends that need tying? Hurts that need healing? Accomplishments that need dancing?

Thank yourself for the time and bravery and energy you’ve taken to attend to your money story in this way. You’ve just taken a big step towards starting your new year with awareness and clarity (and love!) about the year behind you.

Complete? When you’re ready, go on to Part Two: Looking Ahead. There, I’ll walk you through everything you need to set intentions and map out the beautiful new year before you.


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