How to Re-Write Your Money Story

written by Bari Tessler October 9, 2020
How to Re-Write Your Money Story

Good morning! (Or afternoon or evening.)

I hope you’re ready for another tasty, quick morning mug of money support because your second mocha is on the bar waiting for you.

Let’s dive in…

Money touches every part of our lives, in one way or another, every single day. And every day we go about our lives making money decisions both large and small, we’re most often running some very old scripts unconsciously in the background, like an app that runs quietly in the background of your laptop.

These scripts are powerful, and many of them were created unintentionally far in the blurry, faded past of our childhoods. Comments your mom made at the kitchen while paying bills. Things your dad did when he got an unexpected bonus from work right before Christmas. That trip your family took to DisneyLand where your parents were arguing about money outside of the hotel room where they thought you couldn’t hear.

These scripts are part of your money stories, and those stories are so powerful they can cause you to make money decisions to this very day. There’s good news about these stories though: they’re not written in stone. 

You’re writing your own money stories every day, every week, every month, and every year. And here’s the key: you have the power to start writing new money stories, new scripts, that can then run in the background, guiding you to make better money choices. And those better choices can lead to less stress and grind, and more peace and calm. 

I’ve seen hundreds of students in my program write entirely new money stories. I’ve done it myself. And I’ve seen my husband make huge changes in his money relationship by writing new money stories. 

Want to know how to write your own new money stories? 

Listen in (or read) below to today’s piping hot Money Mocha.


What’s a Money Story?

Simply put, your “Money Story” is the entirety of your relationship with money. The pain, the joy, and the learning. It is as unique as you are. It includes all of the historical facts of your financial life. The emotional wounds and triumphs. The tough conversations. The beliefs and habits inherited from your parents and lineage, the ways you adopted them, and the ways you rebelled against or even transcended them. It includes your strengths and challenges with money, arising from your unique circumstances, wiring, and personality type. It includes all of the sensations and emotions and bodily reactions that money stirs within you. Your money story … is the whole shebang. Past and present. The big plot points and the subtle moments that still linger in your heart. Those memories of your mother paying the bills at the kitchen table on Saturday afternoons … when you could feel her anxiety. The moment on the school bus when you realized that your family had a lot more money than your friends’ families … or a lot less.

The pride you felt that winter break when you made $200 shovelling snow in your neighborhood — and opened your first bank account. Listening to your father talk about investment strategies with your brother and wondering why he never talked to you about all of that “money stuff.”

That summer in college when your job fell through and you lived on Ramen noodles.

That triumphant moment when you raised your rates — and your people actually said yes.

All of your ancestors who worked themselves to the bone, yet somehow remained cheerful and creative … who sing in your very DNA when you find the silence to listen.

You see…Getting to know your Money Story is courageous, vulnerable work. Most of us aren’t conscious of our Money Story — or at least most of it. But whether we look it in the eye or not, it is there: running like silent software in the background of our consciousness. Driving decisions, fueling fear, and whispering hypnotic truths we can’t possibly out-logic. That’s why this is some of the most foundational work I do with folks who want to understand, honor, and transform their relationship with money. It’s square one.

Many people, when they first start looking at their Money Story, feel a lot of shame. This is all really normal. As we pull our Money Story out of the closet (and all the secrecy and silence), it’s easy to focus on the bad stuff, first. Yet we all have challenges and strengths around money — and our Money Stories contain traumas and triumphs, pain and joy. Becoming intimate with our Money Story means looking at, understanding, and honoring all of this. Sound hard? It is. But the more we get honest about our Money Story, the more empowered we are in effecting real, lasting transformation.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that our past does not have to equal our future. Especially when it comes to our Money Stories. I’ve seen this too many thousands of times to ever doubt it again: in my own life, in stories from my dear community, and not least of all, in my dear husband’s own evolution around money.

You have the power to write new chapters in your Money Story. I’m going to say that again… You have the power to write new chapters in your Money Story.

It takes some work. But it is oh so worth it.

Here’s how you can start to get to know your Money Story…

If you want to create a new relationship with money — one founded on loving awareness, honesty, and empowerment — there are so many tools and practices that can help you to move forward.

But at a certain point, as you move forward, you must look backwards, too. In order to write a new chapter in your Money Story, you need to get honest about those previous chapters. (Or at least the highlight reel.) This doesn’t need to be traumatic, although it’s always helpful to have a Somatic Therapist by your side if you need additional support. And it doesn’t need to take years on a therapist’s couch, but again, it may be helpful to bring this Financial Therapy work to your therapist. If you’re ready and willing, you can take a few steps today, on your own, to get intimate with your Money Story: 1. Look back. What’s your first memory about money? See if you have any money memories pop up? The first time you received money as a gift. The first time you made money at a job. The first time you were aware of your family’s economic class? The first time you remember talking about money or learning about money? Let yourself journal about this…

2. What money beliefs have you inherited? What did your parents, grandparents, siblings, church, or community teach you about money? Are these beliefs or habits still guiding you, today? What money patterns or habits did you learn from your parents or grandparents? (negative or positive, conscious or unconscious). What money role did you take on early on with your siblings (who was the saver or the spender)? Let yourself journal about this…

3. How “grown-up” are you, with money? Only you can define what being “grown up or adult” with money means to you. Over the years, many of my community members admit, at a certain point, that they don’t feel like adults with money. Some feel like rebellious teenagers; others feel like toddlers; still others feel like nonverbal newborns! Where do you feel you are, within your own Money Story? Are you just getting started? Douse yourself with compassion, here — any answer you discover is truly OK. Let yourself journal about this….

4. Be present, present, present. All of these insights, even if they’re about the past, can only come to you in the present moment. Let yourself notice what money emotions are coming up for you? Anger, shame, grief, fear, anxiety, guilt or joy, excitement, hope. Learn how to do a Body Check-in. Journal. Dance out your emotions. Have honest conversations with trusted friends. Let yourself notice what money emotions are coming up in the present moment. Journal about this…

5. Forgive. I understand that forgiveness is a big concept. Forgiveness can take years or happen in a flash, in an instant. Forgiveness can be an important practice here to add in when you are ready. Try it out. Forgive yourself. Forgive your parents — they were doing the very best they could. Forgive your community. Forgive that testy IRS agent. Forgive, forgive, forgive. Let yourself journal about this…

So please: begin to make peace with your own Money Story. Say hello when it shows up. Share some cocoa with it and thank it for what it’s allowed you to do. Bless the hard times, honor the gifts of grit … and gently show those unhelpful patterns to the door. And always, always: celebrate yourself for showing up to this work. It is rare. And, oh so brave.

Own your Money Story. Bless it. And realize: you now hold the pen in your hand.

Here’s to writing something beautiful. With as much love as you can muster.

I hope you enjoy this from-the-heart mini-jolt of money teaching. It’s in audio and written format so you can choose the way you want to sip this mocha, and when you’re done there are question prompts at the end to help you get started writing your own new money story. 

And seriously, I’m not just being cute here, brew yourself a cup of something warm that you like to drink in the morning and press the play button, or read through this mocha. 

It’s a lovely way to start your day. 

Here’s to you writing new money stories.

P.S. Earlybird registration for the Art of Money 2021 is now open for a handful of days. If this is your year to finally make some big shifts in how you do money, we’ve got a boatload of goodies in the program to help you on that journey. You can get all the details, including the curriculum, guest teachers, community calls, alumni-led forum, and join the AOM 2021 community right over here.

With a rich set of early bird bonuses including a bonus live class with me, a COVID care package, Money Mapping workbooks, and instant access to my entire archive library, this is a very good moment to get on board and start making shifts in your money relationship.

And remember, you can join the program with an Art of Money buddy of your choosing, and the two of you can join together at the low couple’s rate and split the cost. It could be a friend, your mom, your brother, anyone. But know that we may not ever offer this “join with a buddy” option ever again. Things are changing for how we open up the Art of Money program this coming year and we’re not totally sure exactly what that will look like yet. So if you want to join the program at possibly the lowest price point it’s ever been offered for, now’s the time to grab a buddy and join us in the Art of Money community.

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