Welcome to the Money Mentor Series! This is a special guest post from my dear colleague and friend, Rebecca McLoughlin. Rebecca has been a member of the Art of Money community for years now, doing her own deep money work. She is also a gifted guide in her own field, Interior Life Design, where she weaves together deep inner work and beautiful, authentic home design. I love Rebecca’s work so much, I’ve even brought her on to help my own home “growing up” project! I’m so excited to share this insightful piece with you all — enjoy!
Guest Post by Rebecca McLoughlin
I’ll never forget a little thought experiment Bari shared a few years ago.
Imagine someone finds your wallet and checkbook on the street. They open it to see who they should return it to. Would they learn more than your name? Would they see who you are, what you value, and where you place your priorities? Simply by thumbing through your check register?
This intriguing thought process (inspired by Gloria Steinem in The Revolution from Within) was part of what inspired Bari to incorporate values into bookkeeping. And it’s always stuck with me, because it’s so true: where we put our money reveals what we value. (Or, at least, it feels really good when it does!)
But money isn’t the only thing that works this way. In my work as an Interior Life Designer, I help people align their spaces with their values. And I have seen time and time again how much our homes reveal about what matters to us.
I can take one look at someone’s home and read it like a book (or a checkbook!). Our homes tell our stories: who we are, what we love, and yes, where we’re stuck or out of alignment.
Your home is a metaphor for your inner life.
Do you truly value your painting hobby?
Not if your brushes are hidden away in a storage unit.
Is family more important than your career?
It’s time to clear your laptop and files off the dinner table.
Scared your home doesn’t reflect your values? Don’t fret! Just as Bari teaches us to periodically examine our spending to re-align it with our dreams and goals, sometimes we need to update (or “edit”) our homes to reflect who we are now, who we’re growing into, and what matters most to us.
Your space is a bridge between your
inner and outer worlds.
A playing field where your intangible values
can take physical form.
The truth is….simply changing your space can greatly support the changes you want to make in your life in deep, sustainable, and surprisingly quick ways.
Deep breath. (Body Check-In, everyone!) Let’s dive in …
What does your space say about your relationship to money?
… And, more importantly: how can you harness the power of your space to support your shifting money story?
Quick disclaimer: there are as many “Space Stories” as there are “Money Stories,” or people on the planet! But because I’m not in your living room, working with you, here are 6 common types of space relationships that often reveal specific money patterns:
1. The Hoarder
Do you hold onto items that no longer serve you? (A closet overflowing with clothes that no longer fit; knick knacks you despise, etc.) Chances are, you’re driven by scarcity — in your home and in your money relationship. When we’re scared to let go of things (even things we don’t like or use!), we don’t trust that something else will come along to serve us. But paradoxically, clinging to outdated stuff blocks the energetic flow of money, positivity, and happy change.
Invitation: Clear out your space to make room for the new.
Creating flow in our homes can support flow in our money relationship. We need spaciousness (on a tangible level) in our office, so we can work, be inspired, and ultimately generate revenue.
2. The Ultra-Minimalist
Do you keep your possessions at a Zen minimum? So much so, your home feels a little empty?
This can be healthy and beautiful — or it can be fear-based and scarcity-driven. Instead of welcoming abundance into our lives (in the form of fresh flowers, a new armoire, or a bigger paycheck), some of us push things away. In this way, unhealthy minimalism is just as much about scarcity as hoarding — they are flip-sides of the same coin.
Invitation: Give yourself permission to welcome good things into your life, your home, your heart, and your bank account.
3. The Throwback
Does your home reflect an outdated version of yourself? Before marriage, kids, or a big career change? If you are struggling to adjust to a new stage of life and/or trying to make big, deep personal changes stick…. take a look at the items living in your environment. If your home is full of things that no longer serve you, chances are, despite your best efforts to transition and grow your home may be keeping you tethered to exactly what you long to leave behind.
Invitation: Update your home to reflect who you are and who you’re growing into.
Inspiration: One of my clients had just grown a hugely successful business, but her clothes, furniture, and artwork were throwbacks from her starving college days. She was running a multi-six-figure business from a rickety old Ikea desk!
At first glance she took pride in her thrifty ways but as we dug a little deeper we discovered that all her outdated stuff exacerbated a painful “impostor syndrome.” Deep down she felt like a fraud: not smart/capable/worthy/pretty/ or good enough for the success she had created. And further more…she began to notice that each time she sat at her Ikea desk, she was time-warped back to an old, pre-success self — and essentially reinforcing her inner voices of self-doubt every time.
When we identified the toll her home was taking on her emotions and her business, she processed her fears … and agreed to buy a new, bigger, substantial, and inspiring desk. When we put it into her office, she took a deep breath and let everything in. She finally “owned” everything she’d accomplished, and was able to celebrate the level of abundance she’d created for herself. She expressed feeling confident and comfortable in her new successful CEO shoes for the first time. It was a beautiful moment.
4. Skeletons in the Closet
Does your home look perfect from the outside… but lurking in that closet, drawer, or back bedroom there is a terrible mess you’re secretly ashamed and embarrassed of? Many of us go to great strides to appear as though we “have it all together” on the outside, but inside the truth is things are painfully messy. If your home has some hidden secrets, this too could be happening in your relationship to money. Is it scary to look at your relationship with money in the eye? Do you feel ashamed, overwhelmed or fearful about what is happening behind closed doors?
Invitation: Take brave baby steps. Start “airing out” that messy room or closet. Even if it’s only 5 minutes at a time! Bring some playfulness if you can — and definitely loads and loads of compassion. Remember: nobody is perfect and ultimately the only way through is to face the truth with a lot of love and courage.
5. Lavish Lucy
Do you compulsively buy lavish items for your home? More throw pills, better organizing solutions, new plates, artwork, bedding, and on and on? Do you tell yourself that One More Thing will make you happy — only to find yourself buying it, and still feeling empty?
Often, this kind of over-spending occurs when we’re trying to fill an internal void. We use money to chase the feeling of meaning, joy, or accomplishment. Unfortunately, external objects can never fill this void and our homes become a rotating showcase of meaningless items and trends rather than a place of nourishment and support.
Invitation: You deserve genuine abundance, beauty, and meaning — in your life, your home, and your money relationship. Take some time to journal about what “abundance” means to you, really. And the next time you find yourself impulsively wanting to buy that new shiny “something”… Ask yourself; What am I truly desiring in my home? (More connection? Vibrancy? Simplicity? Silence?) Then ask yourself: Will this item truly bring more of what I am really craving into my life? Is there another way to create the experience I want with something I already have? Slowing down to reflect in this way will ultimately help us craft our homes in a way that is truly authentic and deeply nourishing.
6. Waiting for Perfect
Do you have a dream of your “perfect home” — but can’t afford it, and so completely neglect your the space you are in now? Are you waiting for everything to be perfect and abundant (especially in your bank account) before you love up your space an inch? And, when you look around your home, do you see constant reminders of how “not good enough” you are?
My heart goes out to anyone facing these feelings of dissatisfaction — especially because it can feel so paralyzing and self-punishing. Do you tie your self-worth to what you can’t have, and what’s not in your bank account? Are you pining away for some future day, when you’ve made it big — and become “worth it” enough to finally create a space you love and “deserve.”
Invitation: Sure, having money gives us options when creating the home of our dreams. But remember: it’s not material wealth the puts the heart into a home — it’s intention, appreciation, and aliveness. With these things on your side, and a willingness to get just a smidge crafty, you’d be amazed what you can do, with very little (if any!) investment.
Move your furniture around to create more flow or spaces (for conversation, for meditation, for your painting hobby). Pick wildflowers and pop ‘em in a Mason jar. Practice appreciation for things that bring vitality and beauty into your home — from those pretty pears on your counter to the warmth of your sweetie’s hand in yours. Truly: you don’t have to wait to enjoy a beautiful life!
A few final thoughts …
Want to play along? Take a tour of your home. Look at everything through the lens of the question: “What is my relationship to this space? And how does my space reflect my relationship to money?”
Body Check-Ins are huge, here. Breathe. Take your time. This work can cut deep, fast. If big emotions arise, be extra gentle with yourself.
Attention, intention, and beauty are powerful forces to bring into your home. (Just like with your money relationship!) Showering your space with loving attention, a few meaningful items, or things you find beautiful are tiny steps … that are truly huge.
Rebecca McLoughlin is an Interior Life Designer. She believes that the space around us reflects the space within us. Our homes are metaphors for our inner world, and working directly with them can catalyze transformation and support us as we grow into who we want to become. Through one-on-one coaching, group work, and writing, Rebecca guides people into new, more meaningful and authentic relationships with themselves and their space.
Rebecca’s work bridges inner and outer worlds — and so does her background. She has a keen eye for beautiful design, a Master’s in Counseling Psychology, is a trained Grief and Loss Counselor, and a certified coach. Her deep listening and gentle guidance help people discover who they truly are and how to surround themselves with their own beauty.
Rebecca lives in San Francisco with her husband, surrounded by warm colors, cozy blankets, and fresh wildflowers. Get her free ebook, The 5 Keys to Wake Up & Love Where You Live, on her website.