This is a money book for people who are resistant and uncomfortable when the topic of money comes up, people who don't think of money as a healthy or fun thing to think about. The Art of Money is the perfect book for creative, sensitive people who are looking for something more appealing and unconventional, a way to see finance as self-care.
Bari Tessler is a financial therapist. When she started her business, there was only one other person using that title, and now it has become an official profession. It turns out that anyone of any income level can have emotional issues around money. It's been my experience that talking openly about money can feel even more awkward and negatively charged for most people than talking about divorce, body image, trauma, or abuse. My clients tend to feel that thinking about money and increasing their income is materialistic, although their hoarding and compulsive accumulation is not, especially since many of their belongings were acquired at a discount or as castoffs or gifts. I see hoarding as primarily a symptom of scarcity mindset, inextricably bound with money as a flow of energy. This stuff matters.
Tessler talks about how her clients sometimes "check out" mentally when they are shopping or dealing with financial matters. I see this in my work, too, in the form of 'clutter blindness.' We choose to stop noticing certain things, or sing "LA LA LA LA LA" internally so that we can block out uncomfortable information. Tessler teaches a Body Check-In tool to bring our awareness back to the present moment.
The Art of Money walks us through how to bring more self-compassion into our relationship with money. We can learn to forgive ourselves and others, grieve past incidents, and work through delicate conversations about our finances. We can learn to recognize our Money Story and tell a new one. We can choose for ourselves what we consider to be the Basic, Comfortable, and Ultimate Money Tiers.
One of the practices in the book is to have a Money Date with your partner. (Life partner, business partner, financial planner - any kind of partner). I can attest to how helpful this is. My husband and I do this every Saturday morning, as part of a breakfast business meeting we call Status Meeting. ("Do you want to status your status?") I've learned how good he is at analyzing profit and loss statements, and he's learned how good I am at researching and picking stocks. Talking about money together is usually exciting and interesting for us, and it definitely helps us to bond and feel more respect and confidence in our relationship. No dark shadows. I can even say that 'financializing' problems sometimes makes it easier for us to discuss them together, when we feel that there is some way this problem can be solved with money.
Having more money can't solve every problem, but I believe it can solve most of them. More leeway for urgent family visits; more money for alternative health care, better nutrition, and insurance; more financial cushion; more money for education and professional credentials; more breathing room to make major transitions; more room for charity and gifts; greater ability to afford better-quality stuff that just works and doesn't break down all the time.
What I've found in my work is that people often suffer from lack of imagination: what would we do differently if things were easier? What do we want the most? What is our heart's desire? What would make us feel the happiest and most fulfilled? What would feel more positive in our life? The Art of Money is a truly excellent way to start finding answers to those questions.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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