For the past ten months I’ve been engaged in a financial program called The Art of Money that has done nothing but enhance my life and rid me of my anxiety around money. It has given my wife and I a foundation of emotional security to both individually launch our start up companies at the same time with little to no casualties emotionally or financially to our family. How you might ask? By realizing the majority of us were never brought up in families where we had healthy relationships with money and changing those patterns.
Nearly 18 months ago I was on a hike with my dear friend Terry Jordan in Portland, Oregon when she shared with me this amazing financial course she was enrolled in called The Art of Money.
[Side bar: If you have every read Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point you only have to be in the presence of Terry for five minutes to understand she is the Type A Connector – connectors make change happen through people. They galvanize people. They are natural hubs.]
While being a good listener to my lovely friend as she talked about the great value this course had brought to her in the previous year I was off in my own head making internal judgments about what I thought a ‘financial therapy’ course was.
My mind wandered in our conversation to the assumed demographics of people who might enroll in a course like this. I painted an image in my head of those on the verge of bankruptcy, the chronic unemployed, compulsive gamblers, shopaholics etc. while we walked through the woods.
My friend continued to share with me how empowering this course had been for her, yet in my mind I still couldn’t connect or rationalize how this course was applicable to her or myself.
My wife and I were financially stable, we carried no bad debt and in fact we were just re-entering from taking a year off with our 4 year-old son, which in my mind demonstrated our great ability to save money and live within our means.
In our conversation she mentioned that the founder of The Art of Money (Bari Tessler) was an alumni of Naropa University, which is where I received my graduate degree. She shared with me that Bari had started her financial coaching business after realizing she was saddled with enormous student loan debt after graduate school.
After working for a few years in the mental health field, Bari creatively merged her Somatic Psychology degree and her previous financial bookkeeping experience into a program initially called Conscious Bookkeeping, which grew into what is now the year long Art of Money Course.
While I still struggled to find a connection between the infectious enthusiasm with which Terry was sharing her story and how it could relate to me, I was intrigued enough to visit The Art of Money website. Mostly, to see how Bari had incorporated her graduate degree into something meaningful that was brining her great joy and earning her money – something I had been struggling with for the past year.
What I discovered is that The Art of Money is so far removed from the story I had made up in my head.
After some more review of the program, I signed up hoping it could help me find a pathway to my next career move or at the least further hone my budgeting skills.
The Pillars of The Art of Money
Here is what I discovered in my first ten months of this year long program:
- We all carry money shame and we can heal that shame
- We can create even healthier money practices
- We can create money maps to assist our wildest dreams coming true
Shortly after enrolling in this course I came to realize that I had deep rooted shame issues about money and I had masked them for years. They played themselves out in relationships and many ended with emotional casualties. I placed myself in life as an under earner and lived that role for years. Aside from the past few years, I had lived my life from paycheck to paycheck (said with humor, even when I didn’t live in San Francisco). I gave my power away to people who were financially successful and valued and treated them differently than others.
Healthy Money Practices
After just the first few months of practice in The Art of Money I was able to identify and free myself from the money shame and get honest about the stories I had been telling myself for years.
While my wife and I had already created some healthy money practices early on in our relationship about budgeting, saving and investing we began to do things in a more fun and loving way. We began to set up money dates that were separate from bill paying sessions. We sat down with a glass of wine in front of the fire and celebrated our budget successes and lovingly identified when we had strayed from the goals we had set for ourselves. More importantly, as we gained more confidence we started dreaming of what life could become.
We also started to create a dialogue with our young son about money and created some healthy money patterns as a family. We set up a savings program for him and any time he put money into his savings, we matched it with an equal contribution. At the age of five he purchased his own iPad with his hard earned savings.
Dreaming and Money Maps
One of the strongest elements of my marriage has been the ability for my wife and I to communicate about any topic – literally any topic – money being one of them. But as mentioned above just because we can talk about it doesn’t mean there hasn’t been baggage that comes along with it – for me, shame as being an under earner was one of them.
During this course work I realized that we as a couple had created an emotionally comfortable space around our safe and predictable life that was treating us well, moving us along the spectrum of financial stability and meeting our needs.
Some might say, what is wrong with this path – safe environment, predictable outcomes, financial stability?
Let me be the first to say – there is nothing wrong with any of these points, these are all great things, but what I uncovered is there is no rule or reason that says you need to stop there. There is nothing wrong with dreaming about, planning for and creating abundance to your hearts desires.
As I dove deeper into this work I was able to acknowledge that I had the capability of dreaming those dreams and now had the confidence to take the actions needed to fulfill those dreams. This was a huge breakthrough for me.
My dream when I started this course was to create a financial plan that would allow me to launch and fund the creation and production of a children’s book company and publish my first children’s book.
While I’m not quite there yet, in this past year I am proud to say that I have successfully created Skeetie B’s Production Company, which just released our first children’s book The Toothless Fairy. We are soon to launch Night River Press a small publishing company and all our bills are paid.
While there are no guarantees in life and I am early into this new adventure, I am in a very happy place and I am looking at the future with big dreams and great expectations.
The great gift this work has brought me is the new emotional foundation and new relationship I have with money. I no longer host money shame issues. I’ve created a healthier and more transparent relationship with money. And my wife and I are creating and building money maps with the hope and desire of our most abundant dreams coming true!