27 ways to make a Money Date your own

written by Bari Tessler November 17, 2023

Dear Money Adventurer,

Your relationship to money is like a layer cake.

(Now there’s a metaphor we can get behind, right?)

There’s a big, thick, gooey emotional layer. (I’m imagining dark chocolate ganache, if you can’t tell.) Maybe there are actually several of these layers, throughout the cake.

Then there’s a psychological-mental layer. That’s all of the beliefs and patterns you have about money, whether they came from you, your parents, your culture, or beyond. (Raspberry coulis, perhaps?)

Money has relational and cultural layers, too — and even a spiritual layer: how you relate to things like trust and enoughness, gratitude and faith.

The layer people are most familiar with is the PRACTICAL layer. This might be the graham cracker crust, laying the foundation for the whole thing.

The practical layer of money is where we actually, well, take action. It’s the realm of bookkeeping and paying bills and working with your accountant. It’s looking at numbers and making phone calls. Taking stock, noticing patterns, and making plans.

So let me ask you a question. When you engage with money on the practical level … how do you do it?

When it comes to money, the “how” is at least as important as the “what.”

Do you let your bills and credit card statements pile up on the credenza for a few weeks and finally force yourself to sit down and rip them open — like ripping off Band-Aids — while stress-eating potato chips?

Do you launch into a fight about money with your honey right before bedtime, with no warning?

Do you assume you’re “not good at money,” so bounce from avoiding it to following one money guru’s advice after another, never finding your OWN way?

The only “right way” to deal with money … is YOUR way.

If you want your money to feel less like a stress fest and more calm, spacious and grounded — you can do that!

And if you have depth and color and meaning woven into every other area of your life — yes, you can make interacting with your money a sacred experience, too!

You don’t have to “do” money the same way you saw your mother or Grandpa or tax attorney do it. You get to call the shots, here.

In fact, in order to create sustainable financial transformation, I believe you MUST find ways to make your relationship to money your very own and infuse it with your own values and personality.

This all starts with a “Money Date.”

Every year I introduce my Art of Money students to the concept of a “Money Date,” and it’s consistently one of their favorite things!

A “Money Date” is simply a time for you to sit down and connect with money. (It’s literally a “date” you have with money, but…you can also turn this into an actual date that you do together with your honey.)

You can work with any or all of the layers of your money cake that you like. On the practical level, you might pay some bills, reconcile accounts, or call a new bookkeeper.

You might spend some time in the emotional layer: free writing about some childhood messages you received about money and letting yourself really feel your feelings about your credit card debt or an upcoming salary negotiation.

You might say a prayer of gratitude — or zoom out to look at some spending patterns.

Whatever you do, you can decide to infuse it with YOUR personality and preferences and values!

So … how can you make money feel like your own? Here are 27 ideas to get you started.

27 ways to make a Money Date your own

  1. Light a candle to open the space as you start — and set an intention. Blow it out when you’ve finished your Money Date.
  2. Put your Money Date on the calendar! Who says you can’t schedule it — and even look forward to it?
  3. Play some favorite music to get you in the mood. Whether it’s Big Band, Bach, or Beyonce, play something that helps you feel like YOU.
  4. Clear off your desk and make a clean, calm space. A clear desk can help clear the mind.
  5. Start with an intention. Articulate what your hopes and priorities are for this time. “For the next hour, I want to be really kind to myself. Whenever I catch myself getting anxious, I want to remember I’m learning and it’s OK that I don’t know everything — and feel proud of myself for showing up.”
  6. Close with a prayer of gratitude or something meaningful to you, like the Loving Kindness meditation: “May all beings be healthy. May all beings be happy. May all beings be free from suffering. May all beings be at peace.”
  7. Upgrade your system. I can’t tell you how many people are still using a spreadsheet someone made them years ago (which they can’t STAND). Give yourself an upgrade! Spend a little time investigating Mint, YNAB, Money Minder, QuickBooks, and other tracking systems until you find one that feels “good enough” for you to learn.
  8. Speaking of learning a bookkeeping system — do it! Don’t just download it and expect yourself to know how to use it. Spend a little time with a video tutorial, or hire a bookkeeping trainer to show you the ropes.
  9. Reconsider your spending categories. Maybe you want a whole “self-care” category, for acupuncture and massage and your gym membership? Or maybe you’re craving more friendship and want to set aside funds for dinners and movies out with friends?
  10. Decide how you want to show up in a money-related conversation. Even if you’re calling your credit card company to dispute a charge, you can decide you want to be warm and friendly to voice on the other end — or even strive to make them laugh!
  11. Move your body! Take a dance break when you start feeling stiff and restless … or do some gentle yoga or Qi Gong before you start.
  12. Nibble homeopathic doses of dark chocolate. Yes, this can be delectable — and very different from stress eating! (Of course, substitute whatever treat feels best to you!)
  13. Invite a friend. You might meet at a coffeeshop, catch up for a few minutes, and then each get to work on money stuff for an hour — and debrief afterwards. (Choose a very trusted friend!)
  14. Listen to something money-related to inspire you before you begin. (Ahem, did you know I have a whole podcast? Click right here.)
  15. Clean up a “money leak.” Is there an old gym membership or Hulu account you’re not using but still paying for?
  16. Consider your Financial Support Team (bookkeepers, accountants, financial planners, financial therapists, etc.). Who’s on your team? Is it time to add or swap out a member?
  17. Check in with your values. It’s important to know them AND know how they change. What’s more important to you now than a year ago — so much so, that you’re willing to spend a bit more on it? Maybe you need more self-care right now — or the house needs repairs before you can sell it.
  18. Check in on the Money Areas: spending, earning, saving, debt repayment, and investing. What area do you want to focus on and learn about, right now? We don’t have to do all of them at once!
  19. Celebrate your strengths. What are you GREAT at with money? We’re hard-wired to focus on negative things, but naming positive things can reinforce them!
  20. DO A BODY CHECK-IN. This foundational practice is something I recommend before, during, and after every Money Date. It’ll help you connect better with yourself and make room for all of your emotions — tough ones and terrific ones, alike. Learn how to do one (in 60 seconds) right here.
  21. At least once during your Money Date, do another Body Check-In. (YES I’m repeating this! It’s that important!) Notice what you’re feeling — in your body, emotions, and thoughts. Just notice. With compassionate curiosity. Deep breath. Pause. Annnnnnd continue.
  22. Check in with your generosity. If you could be contributing generously to any cause or group right now, what would that be? Would you like to set that up? Are you already contributing but it feels like an uncomfortable stretch and you want to pull back or pause a bit? Are there other, non-monetary ways you’d like to express your generosity?
  23. Make a list of 10 (or fewer) things you’d like to fine-tune or improve in your money relationship over the next six months. Maybe you want to learn a bookkeeping program, take an evening to look at some childhood money memories, or think about your business expenses differently. I am constantly fine-tuning and tweaking my money practices — we’re never “done” with money, and that’s OK!
  24. Identify the spending habits YOU want to shift. This isn’t one size fits all! For example, some of my Art of Money students are surprised to notice how much they deprive themselves and overthink — and find that indulging themselves a bit more feels really empowering! It can take some time, but get curious and start to notice what YOUR patterns are — because they might not be what everyone else’s are.
  25. Reframe a “mistake.” So many of our liabilities are actually hidden assets — when we learn to see them in a fresh way. Did you learn a big lesson from a “mistake,” or have an amazing, life-changing adventure thanks to that debt you’re paying off? See how you can refocus on the positive.
  26. VISION. What would you like your life to look like in 10 years? Simply beginning to think about this can be powerful. And money can be your tool, your partner, to creating the life you want.
  27. What can you CELEBRATE right now about your money relationship?? This is so important, and I know you can find things when you look. Make a list of ten things to celebrate — and YES simply doing a Money Date is huge cause for celebration!

I’m a champion for you doing money YOUR way.

Whether we’re navigating emotional, practical, or spiritual territory (these ALL come up in money!), I’m a firm believer that it’s my job to point you to YOUR wisdom. Not mine. Or anyone else’s.

In fact, I believe the only way to truly make friends with money — and enjoy the peaceful nights and joyful mornings and clear-eyed decisions we all want — is to create a relationship with it on YOUR terms.

Infused with deep meaning. Guided by YOUR values. Adapted to your personality quirks and creative expression and preferences.

I want you to learn to do money YOUR way. Not mine. Or your Mom’s or anyone else’s. And one of the best ways to craft your way to do money? Is to join us on deep, slow, and non-stressful journey that takes you to a place where everything about everything in your money life is changed for the better: The Art of Money Program.

P.S. Ready to go deeper with your relationship to money? Get the practical tools and holistic framework you need to guide your money journey — with the Art of Money!

That means when you sign up, you get instant access to your first of 12 monthly modules to begin your year-long Art of Money cycle. Each module is full of practical teachings, inspiring exercises, and fantastic guest teacher interviews. Join our weekly coworking sessions hosted by our alum guides and our monthly Office Hours with Bari to keep you on track and engaged, and weekly love notes infuse your journey with gentle encouragement.

YES, you can bring a friend, too (and get a discount). Grab your adventure buddy and begin your money healing journey with the Art of Money today!

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