Your New Year’s Life + Money Ritual
Part Two: How to Look Ahead

written by Bari Tessler January 2, 2018
Your New Year’s Life + Money Ritual Part Two: How to Look Ahead

Dear Community,

Banging pots ‘n pans at midnight.

Cheers-ing with bubbly and good friends.

Grabbing a broom and (literally) sweeping the old right outta your front door as you recite a prayer of gratitude and release.

No matter what your personal ritual for ringing in the New Year or how you celebrated this time around, I hope it was truly wonderful.

As you look ahead to all you want to do and be and accomplish in the new year. I hope you’ll make an extra seat at the table for a new partner-in-joy: MONEY.

Money can be your ally, your playmate, your sparring partner, and your rock-steady support as you live your dreams into reality in the New Year.


But it all starts with making a little time in your day — and space in your heart for it.

Here’s my simple-but-deep, 5-step New Year’s Life + Money Ritual.

This framework will show you how to:

  • Go beyond just the numbers to include your body, emotions, and Big Life Plans in your money work
  • Learn a gentler, deeper alternative to the dreaded budget (ugh!): a completely personalized, 3-Tier Money Map of Intention
  • Do the foundational work you need to set new year money goals and intentions with full clarity and confidence.

So carve out 30 minutes — or make time for a longer, more luxurious ritual.

Whatever time you can devote to bringing a little more love + awareness into your money relationship will repay you tenfold, in the upcoming year.

Get current with reality. Clarify your vision for the New Year. Create a smart + heartfelt map for your life + money.

What do you most love to do, to ring in the New Year? Do you create a list of 3 resolutions? Set intentions or choose a guiding mantra for the year? Vision where you’d like to be in 12 months, then create an action-oriented To Do List to get you there?

No matter what your New Year’s tradition is, allow me to gently urge you to include money within it.

After all, when you pour some loving attention towards it, money can be:

  • A supportive vehicle carrying you towards your goals and dreams
  • A doorway to greater honesty, compassion, and empowerment, or other qualities you’re hoping to live into in the New Year
  • A “life garden” in its own right, worthy of learning and growth and loving attention.

But bringing these larger, deeper aspects of money to fruition takes more than looking at your dollars and cents.

We need to bring our heart into it. Our full selves: with all of our history and dreams and quirks.

We need … a full life + money ritual. And what a perfect moment for it, right now, at the dawn of a New Year.

But first? Look back. It’s so important to consciously close a chapter before beginning a new one. If you review your past year with money first — including numbers and emotions, challenges and celebrations — you’ll be grounded and clear-sighted as you look into the New Year.

If you missed it, check out my guide to creating your Year-End Money Ritual right here. I recommend completing that first, then coming back to this Looking Ahead practice.

Honoring the year you’ve just finished will give you a stack of gems and insights you can then transform into fresh goals and intentions for the coming year.

Ready? Let’s set the groundwork for a brand new year of your money story. With even more compassion, clarity, and success — whatever that means to you.

Step One: Love Up Your Space

It’s important to create a space for this work that feels good to you.

Perhaps the setting you created for Part One (the Looking Back) phase of this Money + Life Ritual feels perfect for this second part.

But maybe it would feel good to shift your environment here. To clear off that desk or light a fresh candle. Throw open the curtains. Shift the music. Bring in your sweetheart. Switch from milk to dark chocolate.

Like any Money Date, whatever feels good and meaningful to you is the right answer.

Step Two: Get Current

You’ve just said goodbye to the past year … and are welcoming the year before you.

The bridge between the past and the future is one essential question:

What is current for me?

So let’s look at what’s true for you right now.

  • In the Big Picture Vision of your life, where are you, right now?
  • What’s the general theme + context for this upcoming year? How does that affect your money goals?
  • Life milestones are also money milestones. Have you just gone through a big transition? (Or are you about to?) Marriage, baby, divorce, empty nest, job loss, new career, health challenges? These will all deeply influence your overarching goals and intentions for the upcoming year.
  • How do your life milestones translate into money goals this year? For instance: if you’ll be having a baby in the next year, perhaps your main goal is saving as much money as possible so you can take an extended leave from work.
  • No big money or life milestones on your radar? You can still establish big goals. Maybe you want to shift your chronic pattern of overspending, and so your main goal for the year will simply be to live within your means, not adding a single cent to your debt. Perhaps it’s your time to do some emotional healing work around money, or welcome some bookkeeping support, or start getting honest with your sweetie. All of these are wonderful, important goals.

Step Three: Create Your Money Map of Intention

Doesn’t that sound so much better than “budget”?! It is. It truly is. And we approach it differently than a traditional budget.

We’re not going to start with the numbers. We’re going to start with some freewriting. Grab a journal or open a fresh Google Doc. For each of the following “lifestyle tiers,” write out what they feel like, to you … and what’s included:

1. Basic Needs. How does it feel to have your basic, bottom line needs of life met? What’s included here? You decide what that means. Does it include organic food? Is a daily latte a must? You’re the boss here.

2. Comfortable. Here, introduce a level of comfort in your lifestyle. What’s the next level up from basic needs, for you? How do you feel, here? What are you able to afford, here? What’s included, and how much?

3. Ultimate. Imagine having enough income to live out the fullest expression of your desires. All your intentions are funded. What does this feel like, to you? Does this look like “lifestyles of the rich and famous”? Is it actually a surprisingly simple lifestyle? Does it mean anything more specific, like being able to buy a new bassoon or finally be totally debt-free? Take the time to clarify what this means for you.

Remember: don’t include numbers yet! Just write your own personal definitions for each of the three lifestyle tiers. We want to start by getting a deep sense of what each tier looks like — and feels like — for you.

You are the only one who can define these for yourself. Not your father, your partner, or your best friend. This is completely personal. No wrong answers, here!

Also, keep in mind: these tiers will evolve over the course of your life. For example, there have been years in my life where organic food was under my “Basic Needs Plan,” and other times when it moved into my “Comfortable Lifestyle Plan.”

So. No hard and fast rules here. You will trim down, increase, shift, and evolve all the time, over the course of your life, depending on your priorities at any given moment — and the context of the year you’re living.

Step Four: Bring in the Numbers

Now it’s time to take all the visioning and feeling-into-things you just did and start getting smart and practical about it. It’s time to bring in the numbers!

If this scares you, take a breath and savor the excitement. We’re marrying heaven and earth here. Spirit and numbers. Yin and yang. This is some truly beautiful work, my friends!

So. Take each of your 3 Lifestyle Tiers and apply numbers and totals to them. Use whatever format you like, here: pull out the old-fashioned pen and paper or create your own Excel spreadsheet. Do whatever feels good and supportive, for you.

1. Basic Needs Plan. List out and total up all of your monthly expenses. Don’t forget those big ticket and rainy day expenses that happen less frequently. (Insurance premiums, car maintenance, medical bills, etc.) Divide annual expenses by 12 to include in a monthly budget. Also include savings, debt repayment, and investments — if those fit into this tier, for you.

I’ve listed out some of the standard categories of expenses to get you started — but make sure to customize this to reflect your personal lifestyle, values, and spending habits. Add up the total expenses for your Basic Needs Lifestyle and calculate your average monthly expense.

2. Comfortable Lifestyle Plan. On a fresh sheet of paper, make a list of all the expenses in your Comfortable Lifestyle tier.

Remember: this will include everything from the Basic Needs tier, plus any additional expenses that come into play for you in Comfortable Lifestyle tier.

Refer back to the definitions you came up with a moment ago. Consider what additional expenses you’ll include here. Add up your total expenses for your Comfortable Lifestyle, and calculate your average monthly expense.

3. Ultimate Lifestyle Plan. Finally, on a third sheet of paper, list out all the expenses that fall into your Ultimate Lifestyle tier.

This will include everything you listed out from the Comfortable Lifestyle tier plus everything you’d add in to reflect your Ultimate Lifestyle. Again, refer to your freewriting about what the words Ultimate Lifestyle mean for you to help you discern what’s included here.

Once you’ve listed everything out, total up your expenses for the “Ultimate Lifestyle” tier and calculate your average monthly expense.

Step Five: Choices, Intentions, Clarity

Now you now have clear definitions of what each of these 3 Tiers feels like to you and everything that includes. Plus, you’ve created a list of expenses + dollar amounts for each one.

It’s time to make some choices. Set intentions. Get clarity.

But first: Pause. Breathe. Do a Body Check-In.

Already, this is a cause for celebration! You’ve just taken a huge step towards creating a more honest, aware, and conscious relationship with money. Looking squarely at your numbers in this way is so brave. Loving. Responsible. And rare!

Pat yourself on the back. Nibble a treat. Do a little dance. Celebrate this victory.

Right now, which of your 3 tiers are you in? And which one are you moving towards in the coming year?

Take a look at your current monthly income and compare it with the expense totals for each tier. Look those numbers squarely in the eye. Breathe. Be honest and gentle with yourself.

Which financial lifestyle is yours right now, in this moment? And which one is realistic to move into in the next year?

Once you land on the tier you’re going for this year, then you can input all of that data into the budgeting area of your bookkeeping tool of choice (Mint, Quicken, Quickbooks etc).

Remember, these choices emerge from inside of you. These are yours. Allow this exercise to bolster your confidence, clarity, and sense of empowerment.

And: none of this is set in stone. You will continue to make choices, throughout the year (and your life!). All of this is a reflection of your relationship with money. And it is flexible, dynamic, evolving.

So let this framework support you in creating more of the money relationship you want. Peaceful. Aligned. Informed. Mature (whatever that means to you).

Congratulate yourself for taking this time to love up your money relationship in this way.

You just did an annual money practice! And: you now have a framework you can rely on to check in with your finances on a regular basis.

Use it well. Review it often. Revisit and adjust every year or every month, if you like.

I hope the tools and invitations you’ve found here have opened some doors for you in your relationship with money. Did you find this easy? Surprising? Challenging? Hilarious? All of this is just perfect.

Creating your own end-of-year money practice is just one piece of the puzzle as you deepen your relationship with money. As you mature, grow with it, and become more conscious and honest and confident with it.

Wishing you a beautiful, loving, and successful New Year … however YOU define that!


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