Bari Tessler is a financial therapist, author and founder of The Art of Money. For over twenty years, Bari has worked with individuals, couples, and entrepreneurs to provide them with a more creative, mindful and deep approach to money. Today, Bari brings that knowledge and expertise to discuss her three phases of deep money work: Money Healing, Money Practices and Money Maps. Bari talks about self-compassion, understanding the emotions surrounding money and your money story, and how to overcome universal money challenges that can be overwhelming at times.
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00:52 – Bari Tessler discusses her upbringing and how it impacted her financial life moving forward
10:01– From psychology at Naropa University to bookkeeping to financial therapy
19:47 – Self-compassion and The Art of Money
21:56 – Becoming aware of your money story
25:50 – The importance of going on ‘Money Dates’
33:45 – Money Maps and making sound money decisions
37:24 – Universal money challenges that overwhelm most of us
42:07 – Two financial tips that can improve your financial well-being
46:46 – Top trends to ignore in the financial space
50:42 – How Bari is raising her son to think about money
55:05 – The last thing Bari changed her mind about
56:52 – Bari’s next big projects and where listeners can go to learn more
“At the age of thirty-two, I decided to start my own work and that’s when I created my methodology. And my husband said, ‘Oh you’re doing financial therapy.’ He named it, so he’s always been my namer. And I thought, ‘Wow, that’s a great name.’” (17:57)
“Awareness is something that many of us don’t have, or we feel we have too much of, or we have a hyper-vigilance of. And so, how can we start welcoming in a practice like the Body Check-In before, during, and after.” (25:35)
“Money dates can be with yourself. They can be with your spouse or your partner. They can be with your family. Money dates can be five minutes a day at the beginning. It may just be going online to check your balances. Or going online and checking your balances to see the transactions to see if there’s anything funny.” (28:17)
“For me, most of my money decisions are based on time, money, energy, family and health.” (36:33)
Bari’s Website – https://baritessler.com/
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The Art of Money: https://baritessler.com/art-of-money-book-2/
The Art of Money Workbook: https://baritessler.com/art-of-money-workbook/
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Jonathan DeYoe: Welcome back. On this episode of the Mindful Money podcast, I’m chatting with Barry Tessler, who’s the author of the Art of Money and the Art of Money Workbook and the founder of the Art of Money year long Money school. Barry earned a master’s in somatic psychology from Naropa University and worked in the mental health field for over a decade before she found her calling, merging emotional literacy and financial literacy. She’s a pioneer in the world of financial therapy. Now, when I was thinking about launching podcasts a couple years ago, I was doing some domain research, and I ran across Barry’s website, and I just loved everything she was about. So when Carrie Sachs in my office said she could make an introduction, I was absolutely, uh, overjoyed and excited to do it. So, Barry, welcome to the Mindful Money podcast.
Bari Tessler: Thanks so much for having me. I’m happy to be here.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah. Barry, where do you call home? Where are you calling in from?
Bari Tessler: Home is now Boulder, Colorado. I grew up in Chicago, came here for graduate school in my 20s, moved to California, got pregnant, and we moved back 14 years ago. So Boulder, Colorado, is home base for now. Yeah.
Jonathan DeYoe: So you went to school there and then moved to California. Where in California?
Bari Tessler: We were all over northern California, so we always lived outside of San Francisco. So Santa Cruz, Sebastopole. My work started 21 years ago in Sebastopol, but I used to always teach in San Francisco. One night, Berkeley the next night, then Oakland. I drove around that entire bay area for six to seven years.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, uh, I live in Berkeley. I’m very familiar.
Bari Tessler: Yeah, that’s probably maybe another way that there was a connection, because that’s where all my work started 21 years ago, was in all those neighborhoods with tiny little flyers that I used to hang up everywhere and anywhere.
Jonathan DeYoe: I bet that’s it. Actually, I think we might have traced it. That’s interesting. So when you were a kid, what sort of lessons did you learn? And I’m juxtaposing that with what lessons were taught, and then what lessons did you learn about money as a child?
Bari Tessler: So I grew up, as I mentioned, in Chicago, middle class jewish family. My parents were entrepreneurs, and they both dabbled and dabbled. They were in real estate, they managed apartments and co owned some. And then with my beloved uncles, who I grew up, they were in New York, they moved to Chicago, and we opened up the very first gay bars on Halstead street with them. So my uncles were gay, and I wish they were still alive, but they were a huge part of my upbringing, and even what I learned about money. So, in general, let’s say, what did I learn? Of course, my parents were different. My dad was more of a spender. My mom was more frugal, but very generous. And so there was a lot of generosity in my family. And at the same time, there were a lot of rules and guidelines and conditions that were not clearly spoken until you broke the rule, and then I would learn afterwards. So I also wanted to work, but was, uh, told I had to go get a job at the age of 15, which at the time was hard. I wanted to work and make my own money so that I could buy clothes, basically, and have extra cash. But I also was just told one weekend, just go out and apply for five jobs and report back with no training on how to do that. Or, hey, what are your skill sets? Or, hey, how do you interview? So I felt like I was just thrown out to the wolves. And that was kind of my father’s approach, was, just, get out there, do it, ignore your emotions, override them, and come back with the job, which I probably did. So I was working from 15 on, but there was just a lot of, again, for me, really mixed messages, and I felt a lot of control from my father around money, around everything, and didn’t want to be under that control, and him and I are very similar. So he passed away right when my first book was published, two weeks before is published. And then the day that he was actually cremated was the day while I was on my book tour. So I write about him in the book and money legacy, but him and I were so similar, and then I had to what I call transform or transmute a lot of the challenging things that we both carried, but so I did not like to be under his control. And so I think I made a lot of blanket statements like, I’m never going to be controlled by money or a man. I’m going to make my own money. And that led to many, many decisions. Healthy and unhealthy. And just to complete this little story, they were just in college. He was paying for my undergrad, I paid for graduate school, but they paid for my undergrad. And he had me every Friday make photocopies of my bank register and fax them, I was going to say FedEx, but fax them to him from my know at Madison. And I would do that religiously every week. But then there was no discussion about, here’s the amount of money you have or we have, here’s what you have to work with, here’s your limitations, here’s a budget, here’s a plan. So he would have me do these things, but then there was no follow through or understanding or explanation or meaning. So again, lots of generosity, middle class family, and at the same time, a lot of rules and conditions that were not clearly communicated because they didn’t know how to do that. And lastly, the entrepreneur thing. I got to watch the up and down and all around and the joys of it and the anxiety of it. And it took me until 32 to realize I can’t work for anyone. And I have to clearly be my own boss and I have to be an entrepreneur. But that’s a little bit of the flavor. I’ll say one last thing. So the siblings, I’m the oldest and there are three of us, right? Same family, same Chicago household. And from early on I was known as the spender. And my sister and brother were more frugal. And my brother had a little bank that I think I borrowed from when he was five. They were both younger than me. So these were financial identities that we took on. And I took on spender. But spender always gets such a bad rap instead of I just enjoy a lot of things and I have a lot of desires and I want to buy my mom a ring at the school fair and I want the candy. But it doesn’t mean we are overspenders. It just means, it doesn’t have to mean that. It means we enjoy a lot of things. And later in life. I wrote a piece about it recently. I am a spender and a saver. And while it took me until my thirty s to really learn how to save and use that muscle, I realized, oh, obviously it’s part of what I teach is you can start out with a financial identity that you take on or that’s part of your nature and they can change and you can add in new ones. Right. Uh, so that’s a little bit about my upbringing.
Jonathan DeYoe: Do you think that I guess maybe in conversation with your siblings, have you determined whether or not your dad’s controlling nature was gender, or was it because you were a little girl at that time, or was it because that’s just how he parented? How did he treat your brother? I guess that’s the question.
Bari Tessler: Well, in general, it was gendered, and at the same time, M. It was also just how he. Well, it was both. It was both. It was how he parented. It was that I was the eldest. He had certain expectations. They thought I was going to be a boy. I was going to be named Ben.
Jonathan DeYoe: I shouldn’t know that.
Bari Tessler: That’s okay. I’m fine with all of that. I embrace all parts of myself. And my husband had a nickname for me for a while, and it was, I’m actually, he didn’t know this, but I’m named after my grandfather, Bill, who was an, you know, when I would be very masculine in ways or more direct, which are feminine qualities, too. It doesn’t have to be masculine. He nicknamed me that years ago. But I do know that my father was talking with my brother, who is five years younger than me, almost six, about investments, and he wasn’t talking to me about that. So there’s a little bit about that. But once I became an entrepreneur and was following in his footsteps in that way, again, I was like him. I wasn’t like him. I wanted to prove a lot and do things differently than how he did business. And yet there was a lot of similar qualities as.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, so how did you get from there to here? And I know we kind of touched on this briefly, but for listeners who don’t know, Naropa University is rooted in Mahayana Buddhism, and some of the founding teachers of, you know, somatic psychology was introduced in that were people like Alan Ginsburg and Ram Dass and Joan Halifax. And so how do you get from somatic psychology at Neuropa University to the art of money?
Bari Tessler: Yeah, well, I have to back up and just say a teeny bit of how I got to even neuropa. Right. And it involves my dad, of course, to some degree. My dad comes up so much. I’m so close with my mom now, and we used to have a harder relationship, but we’re so close now, and we talk about everything to do with money. Everything. But growing up first I wanted to be a solid gold dancer, and I’m a little older than you, but do you know what that is?
Jonathan DeYoe: Yes, I do. Absolutely, I do.
Bari Tessler: That was my first career choice. The second one was I wrote a career report at the age of twelve, was that I wanted to be a businesswoman again. My father was a businessman in real estate. So the report was, I want to be, uh, a businesswoman. I didn’t know what kind of business, just in business. And then the third thing was that at 16, I asked my parents if I could go to therapy. So I wanted to understand myself better. So they brought me to a therapist. They brought me to a talk therapist, which didn’t work, but it was a good first step. They also brought me to a male talk therapist. Both of those things did not work for a teenage girl, for me. But all of that led me to graduating from my undergrad degree in history, having no idea what I wanted to do still, where everyone around me was getting high paying marketing jobs right out of undergrad. And I was watching that and not understanding how that was happening. And so I took a year to go to Israel and I wanted to understand more about my lineage and my roots. And while I was there, I was running, jogging on a kibbutz and it was like a lightning bolt hit me and I decided I was going to be a dance movement therapist. And I thought I made up an entire field and I didn’t make up anything. I get to Jerusalem, where then I was studying jewish mysticism with a rabbi who knew a lot about Buddhism and brought a lot of buddhist teaching to the folks that were coming to live in Israel and wanting to study jewish mysticism. And so there’s that connection. And while I was in Jerusalem, I learned that I didn’t make dance movement therapy. Somatic psychology. There’s a whole field that’s beginning, or had been beginning before I discovered it. Not discovered it, but thought of it. And then that there was graduate programs. And so that was what got me back to Boulder, Colorado and to Naropa University to study somatic psychology when I was 24. And while I’ve never been a Buddhist, my husband has chosen that at many different points and for years of his life, I was never a sitting meditation human. So I always needed movement meditation, which works for somatic psychotherapist and a dance therapist. And so whenever there was a sitting meditation weekend that we were required, I would figure out how to do authentic movement or some kind of movement meditation weekend. And those years were spent working in the mental health field, getting my graduate degree, working in hospice, the bereavement side of iT, and also taking care of overnight or overnight, taking care of folks that were getting close to passing. And my themes were intimacy and relationships and sexuality and body and food and grief and death. And that’s what I thought I would be working on in my private practice.
Jonathan DeYoe: Sort of standard psychology, right?
Bari Tessler: Yes, exactly. And what’s missing? Right? Our relationship with money. And it became alarmingly apparent that it was left out of my graduate program completely when my student loan came due at the age of 28. And that was my wake up call. That was my epiphany. That was my, what am I going to do? One, what is my relationship to money? I’ve never explored this, and I definitely have some shame. I was throwing away my bank statements. They would come in the mail and I would throw them away, like, what do you do with this? I wasn’t good at math growing up, and so I had equated that with, well, I won’t be good with money, or I can clearly will not be able to learn A Bookkeeping system. But the bigger thing is just, this was left out of my graduate program. I’m training to become a therapist, and we don’t even talk about money. And what are our own money emotions, our money story, how to work with couples. Right? So if on the surface, the biggest reason for divorce is money, and we know that’s not really true, right, we can talk about that. And also, just how do you start a PriVate PractIce with the bookkeeping and the accounting and understanding cash flow and so on. And so it was really one of those moments where I really thought of running away and never coming back and never paying that student loan off or facing it head on like I did every other big scary topic in life. And so that’s what I started to do my last year or so in the mental health field. The man who ran the program one day asked me if I wanted to learn quicken in the quiet back room for 5 hours. And I had been 40 hours a week in the milieu in the mental health field. So when he offered me this 5 hours of Quiet in the back, quiet room, even though I was learning quicken in Excel, things I never thought I could do, and I didn’t know why he was asking me if I wanted to learn this. Something voice just said, say yes. Just say yes. And so I did. And he was a good teacher, and he taught me both of these programs. And the light bulbs just were, like, going off, just going nuts. And it was like the both side of my brain, where brain was being turned on. And I realized, oh, I can learn this, and I can have more clarity around numbers or my own finances and bookkeeping. And so I started doing my own bookkeeping, and slowly, I left the mental health field and decided to get a job in Rudy’s bakery, in organic bakery learning accounting. I needed a break from the work I was doing, and they offered to pay me more with the master’s degree. I was making $11 an hour.
Jonathan DeYoe: Right? Wow.
Bari Tessler: And it just was like, how am I going to do anything? I can’t even get a massage. I can’t even do any level of self care. So the accounting work offered me 13, and then they offered me 15. And then a man said, a contractor that I met said, I’ll teach you quickbooks, and I’ll pay you 20 an hour, and then I’ll bump you up to 25. So I wound up taking a detour and learning bookkeeping and then running a bookkeeping business for other therapists and coaches and artists for a few years as a transition, before one day at the age of 32, it all came together. I realized it was time to integrate my past training as a psychotherapist and all of those tools and practices with these money systems that I was surprisingly falling in love with and fascinated with and reading accounting books before bed, my husband would look over and be like, who are you? Where did my wife go? And reading quickbooks? And it all converged at the age of 32, and I decided to start my own work, and that’s when I created my methodology. And my husband said, oh, you’re doing financial therapy? He named it. So he’s always been my namer. And he said, you’re doing financial therapy? And I was like, wow, that’s a great name. And now there’s a whole field that’s been created. So that’s a little bit how I went from that to that or that.
Jonathan DeYoe: So, were your first clients or your first. I don’t know if you call them clients or customers. When you did merge the two, were they other therapists that sort of faced the same, oh, my God, what is.
Bari Tessler: This all about kind of moment I got everyone. There was always some therapists in my groups, always coaches. There was couples, but there were folks who worked in the corporate world. There were stay at home moms who were trying to figure out family finances. It was just anyone who wanted a more creative approach and a more mindful approach to their relationship to money. Because 21 years ago, all the books that were out were by older guys, white guys. A lot of them had a pretty tough love approach. Not everyone. There was beautiful books out there by Jacob Needleman. There were some beautiful books, right. But a lot of them were way more tough love. This is how you do it. There’s one right way. A lot of shame and blame, which. So, uh, I got enough of that growing up that I did not need that. And so it was just really anyone who wanted a more creative, meaningful, playful, values based approach. And that’s an enormous community. Back then, it seemed more out there, but clearly it’s not.
Jonathan DeYoe: Uh, I think that’s a perfect sort of segue into. Can you tell us? Because I think the whole first, I guess, pillar, or the first section of the book, the art of money, or the process has to do with self compassion, less about powering through and grind and all that kind of stuff that I think your dad taught you and my dad taught me. So could you tell us about the art of money? How does it work? What are the steps, et cetera?
Bari Tessler: Yeah. So, the art of money. There are three phases. Money healing, money practices, and money maps. They all need to be talking to each other. And I’m teaching you a whole framework that you learn the tools and practices of, and then you practice it for the rest of your life, day in and day out. And money healing is more about what are the money emotions that come up, the same set of emotions that come up in every other area of our life, but we don’t think, oh, they come up around money as well. Shame, anxiety, sadness, anger, guilt, and so on. Right. And joy and excitement. Right. And hope. And what is your money story? So I’m just going to lightly touch on all of this for now and then understanding what your money story is, healthy, parts of it, unhealthy, what you want to keep, what you want to change, what financial identities you took on, how do you shift them? Um, what needs forgiveness? What needs letting go? Where do you need to honor who you were at the time that you made those so called money mistakes or made those decisions that you’re not happy with anymore? Or do you need to forgive yourself? Do you need to forgive your parents? They did the best they could. Right? They did not learn a full financial education growing up. They did not learn financial literacy. They’d learn parts of it. And they also did not learn emotional literacy, how to work with the emotions around all of this. So that’s that whole first part, what I call money healing. But it’s really just what is your money story. And how do you learn how to sit with all the emotions that come up in the moment when you’re going to have a money conversation, when you’re going online to look at your balances, your numbers, and on and on? Yes. What do you want to say? Yeah.
Jonathan DeYoe: Do you think that we’re aware the first step and the importance of that first phase is just becoming aware of the story? Because I don’t think most people have any idea that they have a money story or have emotions around money.
Bari Tessler: Yes. Or some people come to me and they say, I already know what the emotions are, and they’re big and they’re overwhelming, and I don’t want to deal with them, or I don’t want to face them or I want to run away or get them away from me or. I know my childhood stuff. It’s hard and painful, and there’s trauma, and I don’t want to look at it. So I think some people are. That for others of us, there is just a lack of awareness, certainly just, uh, an unconsciousness that we all have of. I didn’t know I could have a money story, just like I have an intimacy story or a food story, um, a story about all these other important relationships that we have. And so, yes, step one, but that’s in any therapy, is awareness, leads to understanding, leads to change. Right. So mindfulness or awareness is step one. And so the very first tool that I give people is from my somatic training. It’s called the body check in. And when people say, what’s one thing I can do? Before I even say, learn a bookkeeping system, I say, start practicing a body check in. And a body check in, for me, is where the awareness begins. It’s not where it ends. Right. It’s a practice. It’s not. You do a body check in in the middle of the car dealership, and you’re done. You can calm yourself down. It’s an ongoing practice. You check in on a physical level, sensation level, emotional level, breathing level. You see? It’s a meditation practice, right? Absolutely right. And at the end of a body check in, you might want to ask yourself, what’s one little adjustment that can be made? Do I need to lower my shoulders, do a little shoulder shimmy, loosen my jaw, see if I can deepen my breath down more into my solar plexus or my belly? But that, it’s just a, uh, curiosity practice. It’s what’s going on. It’s a noticing practice. That’s what I want to say. It’s just allowing yourself to notice in these moments. But here’s the thing. I invite people to do a body check in before the money conversations as prep during it, if you can remember, like, in the heat of the moment, you might catch yourself, what’s going on? Oh, okay. My breathing is going up, right. And you might be able to name the emotion. You may not, you may just notice sensations in your body, right? So there’s more moments for noticing an awareness in the moment. You might say, am I hungry? Am I thirsty? Would it be good to go take a walk around the block and then come back? And then also after the money conversation has happened or after the money purchase or after, so as the debriefing after. So there’s all these moments to start to invite more awareness and more noticing. And so a lot of people are like, I’m not aware. I just do these things. And so if I can say, insert, invite, body check in and see how often you can do it, maybe you can remember to do it before. Maybe you remember it in the heat of the moment. Maybe you can remember after. They’re all wonderful, and they all help to bring more mindfulness awareness to what’s happening in your body, to giving you some glimpse images, memories of your money stories. What are your strengths? What are your challenges? What did your mom do? What did your dad do? What did your grandparents do? So it’s all leading to just more awareness with all of it. Again, that leads to understanding and then change. So awareness is something that many of us don’t have or we feel we have too much of. We have a hyper vigilance of. And so how can we start welcoming in a practice like the body check in or whatever version you do before, during, and after.
Jonathan DeYoe: So tell us about phase two.
Bari Tessler: Okay, so phase two is money practices. And this is where financial therapy, we all kind of do it a little different. I started in 2001. Now there’s a financial therapy association that was created about six years after that. Most of them come from more of a financial planner background. Right, like you. And then they’re learning emotional literacy. Right. And learning psychology tools and psychotherapy tools. Right. And I come from such a strong psychotherapy background, and I’m adding in all of these practical tools, and I’m adding them in because I think you need all of it, right. It’s not just change your beliefs or know your money story or do some mantras. It’s okay. Sometimes the nitty gritty or learning what your numbers are or learning how to navigate a bookkeeping system can be equally as important in making shifts. But we need to do money healing work first, because then we then bring those tools and practices to when we go sit down and learn a bookkeeping system, right? So we may need the box of tissue, the dark chocolate. I like to add in fun things when I’m sitting down to do a money date. So there are many parts of money practices. One of them is, I like to liken it to a garden. So if your relationship to money is like a garden, you need to give it care, attention, watering, but not too much, not too little. Right? And so why don’t we approach this like a self care practice, and let’s add in self care practices. And so one of them is a money date. And a money date just simply means sitting down and saying hello to money. And what needs my attention right now? And the way that I like to do money dates is I light my candles, I get out my essential oils. I do all that stuff. You don’t have to do that. My husband doesn’t do that. He likens bookkeeping. He used to hate it. And then one day he said, okay, I need to equate this to a meditation practice. And so when I sit down to do my bookkeeping, I’m going to sit in my cushion or set up my little desk, maybe with a candle or something, take some deep breaths, check in, do a little meditation, and then go into the bookkeeping and approach it as that.
Jonathan DeYoe: It sounds like the money date is me and money, right? Is there something similar for my wife and I and money, or a couple and money, definitely.
Bari Tessler: So money dates can be with yourself. They can be with your spouse, your partner. They can be with your family. And money dates can be five minutes a day at the beginning. It may just be going online and checking your balances or going online and checking your balances, but going to see the transactions to see if there was anything funny. Sometimes I’ll see fraud. It happens every few years. Or I’ll see a money leak, meaning there’s a payment, a reoccurring charge that I didn’t know is still happening. Right. And you’re not going to catch them until you look. And so money dates can be, what is your next step? It could be reaching out to a new bookkeeper so that they can teach you quickbooks so that you can learn how to do your bookkeeping on your own, or you’ve decided, I don’t want to do my bookkeeping on my own. I really want to pass it on to a bookkeeper. And have them do it. But I will still have a monthly money date with my bookkeeper so we can sit down and learn how to read the reports and the numbers and learn about cash flow and learn more about where I’m spending and where I want to continue spending because it’s in alignment with my values and where it’s not. So there are many parts of a money date. Simple version. It’s you and money or you and your spouse and money, and it’s what are your next steps? What do you have to talk about? What next steps you have to take? So, it could be five minutes a day at the beginning, but it could be 15 minutes every few days or 30 minutes twice a week. And then your monthly dates to review your numbers and all of that. Yes.
Jonathan DeYoe: In the practices. I love the idea of the money date. And we’ll get to phase three in a second. Uh, another question about the money date. How do people who don’t really know, there’s an enormous list of financial nitty gritty that we need to deal with. You got to look at the accounts. You got the bookkeeping and all that. But there’s also insurance, and there’s your. There’s investments, and then there’s the spending and the budget, and you get a refinance. There’s just so many little things. Right. Do you work with people to create a list of things that they need to. These are the things you should consider, or are you saying, read this book. This has a good list because I’m imagining people on their own. Have no clue.
Bari Tessler: Great question. So, I send out a weekly blog article on everything that we’re talking about. So there’s articles on what is a money date, and how do you have one, and how do you have one with yourself, and how do you have one with your spouse, and how do you have one with your kids? And then there’s. I have one. I think it’s like, 57 possible things you can do on a money date. Okay. Uh, 57 ideas of what to do. So there’s that. But here’s the other thing, is that I feel a lot of what I’m teaching in the year long program, right? So we teach the three phases, money healing, money practices, money maps. Over a year, each phase is broken down into four months. Right. In my book, there’s also, like, here are the things that you can do. Here are the practical things you can do on a money date. Here are the emotional things you can do on a money date. So that’s all in the book, too. And additionally, though, in the money practices, I talk about, who are the players on your financial support team and what are the differences? Ah. I, uh, had no idea years ago. What’s a bookkeeper? What’s an accountant? What’s a financial coach? What’s a financial planner? What’s an estate planner? What’s a financial therapist? So, in the book, there’s a whole chapter, too, of, um, what are the different roles? What are the different players? Of course, it all depends on our background, our experience, our approach, and then questions to ask each of these different players when you’re going to hire them. And so also on a money date, I would say bring in a new player or for the year, assess what phase of life are you in? Which is more of the money maps. Right. What phase of life are you in? What are your goals? What are the numbers? Where are your values and priorities? But who are the players that need to be in your team? Would it be helpful to add a bookkeeper this year? Would it be helpful to add a financial coach? Because a financial coach is kind of the intermediary between my work and a financial planner. And they are the handholders that sit down with you and say, what are your numbers? And they help you create budgets, but they help you create a money map or a plan over a five year period. Right. Or even for a year or five years. Where a financial planner is more the long term, it’s more where do you want to be investing? What do you want to do in later life? If you call it retirement, we need new words for that. But what do you want to do? And then there are all these steps. So when people come to me and do my work, and then they go to a financial advisor, a planner, and you give them a bigger plan. They have the skill sets now, and they have the emotional tools as well to be able to choose a plan and stick to it, rather than just getting a plan and going, how the hell do I do this? There are some next steps for money dates.
Jonathan DeYoe: So talk about phase three.
Bari Tessler: Yeah. So, phase three is, I don’t even like the word budget. And that’s something that we didn’t talk about in phase two. I like to rename everything. Rename everything. So, instead of budget, people call it a money map or a map of intention, or they rename rent or mortgage to home or sanctuary. And that may be very silly for some just to rename things. But for other people, um, renaming things really makes it more meaningful or creative or fun for them, and they need to have. So it takes it out of that boring, dry bookkeeping or money thing. But phase three is where I’m really having folks assess. What phase of life are they in? Age, health, family, what’s going on? And then evaluating and then creating a money map. And the way we do money maps is in three tiers. So instead of just, like, one tier, one set of numbers that you’re going for. The first tier is basic needs. And we all define that differently based on what phase of life we’re in. So you ask yourself, what are basic needs at this phase, not five years ago, not five years from now? And what are the numbers and expenses that go with that and then add it up and get a total, and then you move on to the second tier, which I call comfortable lifestyle. And what do you add in then? Are you paid off on your debt? Are you traveling more? Are you donating more? What does comfortable lifestyle look like, feel like? And what are the numbers and expenses or savings or future that goes with that? And what’s the total? And then the third tier is ultimate. And what do you add in there? And everyone’s numbers are so different with someone’s ultimate might be my comfortable. What’s my comfortable? Maybe someone else’s ultimate. They’re also different where we live in the world, right? What our work is in the world, and on and on and on. So it’s more of just an exercise. And it really helps people just do some visioning and goal setting. And then you bring that back to the bookkeeping. You usually pick one tier that you’re going for that year, and you sit down monthly with a bookkeeper or yourself or your partner, your family, and you check in. How are you doing with your set of projections or your set of intentions? What’s working, what’s not. Not everyone does it monthly. It could be quarterly. It could be every six months. And so that’s a bit about what’s happening in money maps. But here’s a few more things that have gotten really big in that phase for me, and it’s how to make a good money decision. And it’s why some people come to me. They say to me, I don’t know if I can sign up for your private session, or it’s more by program. I don’t even know if I can afford your program because I don’t know how to make a good money decision vision. I don’t know if I can afford this. And so while this is part of phase three, and it’s part of phase three is because you have to do the money healing work, right. You have to do the money practice work. You have to know what your numbers are learning bookkeeping system. I don’t know if I clarified that you have to learn a bookkeeping system or someone needs to be doing your numbers so that you’re reviewing them. We left that out. That’s a huge part of, um, money practices. You have to know what your numbers are to some degree. And this all leads to being able to make good money decisions. And so I have all these tools and practices on questions you can ask in the moment. Knowing your numbers, really coming up with different equations, so you can make good money decisions. And for me, most of my money decisions are based on time, money, energy, family and health. And there’s no like exact 20% here, 30% here. Right? And I have lots of blog articles on this. It’s in the program, it’s in the book. But it’s become a much more robust thing, robust part of my work, because people want to be making solid money decisions, good money decisions, whether that’s buying clothes, figure out if they can travel, buying a car, buying a home, from small to large. It’s a huge piece that I love teaching on as well. So that’s a little bit. And it moves into money, legacy and all these other parts.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, I think that’s a great overview and I’d highly recommend people like I’m imagining you can subscribe to that, your email, your weekly, uh, email. It’s definitely subscribe there. Question. So you’ve worked with lots and lots of people, individually, class settings, in all of your experience, where do we fall down when it comes to money? Are there challenges that are more or less universally overwhelming? Are there things that we just hit us and none of us really know what to do with? Even people that are probably planners and engage in money all the time, are there things that really are just universally overwhelming?
Bari Tessler: Well, I’d say again, because most of us did not receive a complete financial education growing up. So we did not learn financial literacy and emotional literacy. So we all have our blind spots. We all have things to learn. Financial planners are a group that are incredible planners. You guys think about the future. It’s second nature to you, right? It’s just what you do. And for someone like me, that was a learned skill set. I had to use that muscle over and over and over. I did not want to think about the future, did not want to plan for the future. And so, uh, things I had to learn. So everyone has their achilles heel. Everyone has things they can learn. A couple came into me years ago. He came from a traditional financial background. She was more of a creative person. He felt, well, this is my field. This is what I’ve studied. I know everything. I’m a great teacher for my wife. Um, he kept sitting down and pulling out the spreadsheets, and she kept being like, put those away. And they were not getting anywhere. And it turned into fighting, screaming, crying, and they took my program, and he was very skeptical, and she found it. I think, uh, sometimes the guys are more into Dave Ramsey, and this is not the case across the board, but they’re into more Dave Ramsey. And the woman come and finds me for more of the compassionate, gentle, loving approach. But he really turned around because he learned one. The emotional side of money was completely left out of his training. He did not know how to communicate calmly or lovingly or compassionately to his wife. His way was not the highway. His way was not the only way he learned. He was not the best teacher for her. She wanted to learn her own bookkeeping system. I think she learned quicken. They learned how to have money conversations and a new kind of money date, couples, money dates. I teach that in a different way. Like, you don’t go to the numbers first. You tell stories about your childhood first, right. And then you get to the numbers later. So he had things to learn, but she had things to learn, too. So as far as are there universally, there’s universal themes where I can have people from totally different lineage backgrounds and even economic class backgrounds, and their relationship to money can be similar, right. They can have similar patterns that they’re playing out or have shame. So there are universal feelings around money, certainly. Again, no matter what lineage you come from. So there’s that which always. And then no two people come together and do money in the same way. Like, you’re not going to get two people who earn and spend and save and give and invest in the same way, even if they came from similar economic class or lineage. Right. They’re going to have their different patterns and habits. I mean, this is something that’s changing. We’re a part of it. We’re learning financial literacy and we’re learning emotional literacy now, and we want to be. And it’s different than even 21 years ago where this was weirder. People still don’t talk about money, though. It’s changing. But people, for me, they still don’t want to publicly say, I’m working on my relationship to money or I’m working with. I m get so much word of mouth and have for years. But, uh, people are still shyer about saying, like, oh, hey, let me let everyone know, even though we all have money stuff. And that’s why I wanted to teach in groups from day one, where I only do private financial therapy every few years, or I’ll open up ten sessions, is because in groups, we get to see right away we’re not alone. We share so m much.
Jonathan DeYoe: We all need more Brene Brown to give us permission to be vulnerable. I mean, we’re all just protecting ourselves. We don’t want anyone to know that we’re vulnerable, that we don’t know everything. Uh, I think it just makes perfect sense to me that the group work makes tons of sense. Say, the purpose of this podcast is to help people who really don’t have access to as much professional advice make better decisions for themselves. So, two questions I want to get to before things get time gets away from us. Can you tell our listeners, in the simplest way possible, one or two things they can do that will improve their own financial well being? Like, they’re going to get off this, and then next week they can do this or this.
Bari Tessler: Yeah. Okay, so step one is start doing a body check in, right? And start bringing that mindfulness practice, that awareness practice, that meditation practice to all these different moments. And just please be gentle with yourself and be open and let yourself notice and be curious. Before as prep or during these moments and after. So when you’re going to make a money decision, go on line, check your balances, have a new money conversation with your mom, right, or your children for the first time. So step one. And practice that every day and learn something new every day, right? Number two is learn a bookkeeping system. And whether you’re like my husband, who one evening could just teach himself mint in one evening because he’s tech savvy. Or if you’re like me, who needed to get a local bookkeeper, bookkeepers can charge anything from 20 to 100 an hour, but 20 to 50 an hour, right? You can get someone who’s a good bookkeeper and who’s also a good teacher, who could just sit down with you and metaphorically hold your hand and show you how to navigate quicken or quickbooks. Or you can go online and go to ynab. M. Ynab. You need a budget, and they have an incredible community of free video tutorials and a forum, right? So you can either learn on your own, or you can get someone to hold your hand, or you can go enjoy all those videos that Yneb has, but learning what your numbers are is really such an important step. And also give yourself three to six months to even begin to learn how to navigate something. And then it’s going to take a year before you’re like, I got this. And I feel confident and feel comfortable. And anyone can learn a bookkeeping system. No matter if you’re totally a creative person and don’t think you can, you can because I did.
Jonathan DeYoe: Just for clarity, you’re actually speaking about a bookkeeping system for your personal finances. Not necessarily for business, but personal finances.
Bari Tessler: Yes. So you need to have a bookkeeping system. I want you to know your numbers for your personal finances and a separate one for your business. Now, sometimes they can be under the same bookkeeping system. Back in the day, I just learned and love quickbooks. So I would have one file for our personal family finances and one for the business. Or you have a bookkeeper do your business finances. But I want you to be doing this for your personal finances because there’s so much to learn. This is another big place to bring awareness and mindfulness. It’s not just to your money emotions and what’s going on, and learning how to calm yourself down or name or be with whatever emotions. It’s so important to also learn your spending patterns. What are your habits and what are your top values and priorities? Like, do you love dining out so much? That was a non negotiable until Covid hit I’m dining out. It’s with friends, it’s with my husband, it’s with my family, it’s with my mom. That’s my favorite thing to do. And I was going to reduce spending in other areas so that I could keep that. But it’s getting in there and really seeing are you in alignment with your values and your spending and your earning and saving? Are you not? Where can you work more towards that? There’s so much to be learned about cash flow patterns. And this is the piece that financial planners don’t teach, right? So much or they have someone on there. Uh, they might have a bookkeeper who can help with that. But this is where private financial coaching can really help. But you can also learn a lot about how to do this on your own, right? With all the video tutorials online. But yes, please learn a bookkeeping system, which is just a tracking system. A tracking tool, uh, to learn what’s coming in, what’s going out, and then it’s going to take a few months and there may be some critique or judgment coming in. Keep putting it to the side, keep serving it tea. You keep coming back. I’m learning. I’m just learning what I do, what I don’t do. Then down the road I can make some shifts and changes in where I’m spending or how I’m spending. At first it’s learning the tracking bookkeeping system and learning your patterns. So those are two huge things. Along with the third one is go subscribe to my blog so you can get all that free content from blog and learn from there too. Yeah.
Jonathan DeYoe: So the follow up to that is there’s a ton and you know this, right? There’s a ton of financial noise out there. What are a couple of things people can just ignore? They don’t have to worry about this. And, uh, that.
Bari Tessler: Wait, say that the question again. Yeah, ask me that question again.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah. So there’s a lot of really popular topics out there. Maybe they’re big in financial press or social media, but they don’t really move the needle to providing more well being. They’re just things we get worried about and things that cause conversations, but they’re valueless in terms of our actual well being and financial outcomes.
Bari Tessler: You want to know what those are?
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah. What can people ignore?
Bari Tessler: Well, they’re all related, but I would say to move them to the side so that you’re not perseverating on them. It could be if you invest and don’t be looking at your financial statements or the stock market going up and down, or talk about inflation, or talk about, uh, there’s all these flashy things, cryptocurrency, that’s kind of changing. And my husband took a deep dive and I was like, you go, honey, you take a deep dive and you report back. And he did a little investment and then he came back and he’s like, okay, I’m not going to do that for now. But some people are really into that. There’s lots of things like that going on. But I would say come back to where you’re at right now. Come back to two things. One, making a list of all the things, or making a list of five to ten things that you do well around money. And then your second list of what are five to ten? Or even, how about one to two next steps that you are ready to take, that you need to take, that you need some handholding? Do you need help filing some tax return from a few years? Right. Do you need to find a colleague who has a good accountant referral for you to help with that? So I would say, first, make your list of what you do well around money because people usually go, I suck, I suck. Or, uh, they name everything so they didn’t learn. So make your list and then start making your list of your next steps that you’re ready to take, that you can do on your own and that you may need a little extra handholding or a new person on your financial support team. And we’re going to start there and also really settling into now. Like, what can I do to enjoy and be present and be grateful for now? There’s always changes. There’s always things to fine tune. I’ll be doing that forever. So part of it is, for some of us, not getting too caught up in the future, even though for some of us, we need to think about that a little bit more, but also making some future plans and then coming back to what am I grateful for now? And what is one or two next steps that I can take over the next week or few next weeks and take them and then take two m.
Jonathan DeYoe: It sounds like those lists, we use those lists to create a focus so that we can ignore the noise. I’m trying to figure out what are the things that we can just not pay attention to. And you mentioned a couple of those little things, and then you went straight to those lists. So those lists are actually the tool we use to say that’s what we’re focusing on the next two steps, not this other world of stuff.
Bari Tessler: Yeah. I mean, you also might need to take a walk. You may need to do some sitting meditation. For those of us that keep falling into the trap of the noise of the future or the shiny thing, then go to your practices. Go sit, go for your walks in the mountains, go to the lake, go out, uh, walk your dog. Right. Go to your practices to reduce the noise, and then come back to your money dates as a practice and light your candles and go to your list. And what’s one next step that I can take right now? And take that step, and then we begin again.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, this is big. And, uh, I’m kind of sorry I’m leaving this to the end. But you’ve got a teenage son. I have a teenage son and a teenage daughter knowing how incredibly important the psychology of money is. How are you raising Noah to think about money? What’s that process?
Bari Tessler: Ongoing. And I’m not going to get it perfect. And I’ve been trying to do age appropriate money lessons since he was two and know so at, ah, two and three, we were in target aisles making wish lists. Like, he would add everything to the wish list because he wanted everything. So we did that up and down and then it moved on to wants and needs. And out of these three shoes, which ones will you enjoy the most? I mean, at age four, I was trying to teach him that. And then we moved on to asking the grandparents to match when he wanted to save money. We were starting to do allowance a bit and he wanted to save money to buy a big Lego set and he asked the grandparents if they would match, which he now looks back and goes, that was a very silly money decision. But at that time he really wanted those Lego sets where for his birthday this year, we’re finally looking at, I shouldn’t say finally. We’re all different of when we get to it. But finally he’s going to go to grandparents and ask. He’s been saving money from allowance or other things and he wants to finally do his first investment. And we want him to be able to do his very first investment. So, my God, I’ve been writing about this. He doesn’t like me writing about him or even sharing photos at this point. Unfortunately, we’ve moved into that phase. What do you expect exactly? Articles on what I’ve been teaching him and how he’s been responding to that and lots of money lessons and life lessons. But he’s excited to get a job in a few years. He’s brought that up. So that’s a teeny bit. That’s a teeny bit. We’ve brought him into giving and donation conversations. We’ve brought him in to, he was going to a private Montessori school. We finally got to the point where he wanted to go to public school, but we also didn’t want to pay for school anymore. We’re know we’re done. We could be traveling this month. We can go to these places. We can go to Barcelona. And so we brought him into a lot of those bigger money decisions. So he had a big say as well and really open. But I’ll say one last thing, we’re very open, but we don’t share everything. That’s the age appropriate thing. And years ago he said, well, how much money do you make? And at the time, if I had just given him a number, there would have been no context. And it’s not that I didn’t want to reveal that to him, but I had to say, well, I will tell you, but we need to sit down. I need to also explain, like, how much our mortgage is, how much soccer is, how much food is, all these things. So there was more of a context than just like giving him this number. Of the gross income. So that’s kind of how I did it. He just wanted the number. We were doing our best to teach him things that we did not learn when we were growing up, to have open conversations. And even one time he thought he made a big money mistake. He felt he did. And we sat in bed late at night, and he definitely was having shame and regret coming up. And at one point he said, because you guys have never made money mistakes like this. And we were like, of course we have. And then we each shared one. That’s a teeny, teeny bit of how we’re doing.
Jonathan DeYoe: I think that’s great. I mean, it’s an ongoing process. It’s age appropriate. We try things and we fail sometimes, and we admit those failures. I mean, I think that’s beautiful. Uh, that’s all you can really do.
Bari Tessler: Yeah. And there’s two great books I’ll share. Two great books that I’ve gone to. Something about how not to raise spoiled kids. Wrong. Labor right. Of New York Times columnist. And then, oh, I’m forgetting the other. It’s a woman. I’m going to have to get it. But she also writes really good books of what to teach age appropriateness. And I’m forgetting her name. But I shared those two books on a blog a few years back.
Jonathan DeYoe: Tell me the list, or I’ll look for the blog. So what’s the last thing that you changed your mind about?
Bari Tessler: The last thing I changed about anything. About getting a puppy. And we got the puppy, and now I love him. So ever since my son could talk, he was asking for a dog. And every time we would go to get a dog, we would go bring home another cat. So we’ve had up to five cats. Now we have three. And I think it was just, it all finally converged. And I kept thinking, I love animals, but I don’t want a puppy because we live in a town home. Uh, and it’s just going to change everything. And I like my sleep, but I changed my mind a month ago, and it kind of all converged where my husband, really, he loves animals, too, but he also liked his sleep. But then we didn’t want our son’s and only child. We did not want him to not have this experience and to not have an animal. And to not have a dog. Well, not to have a dog. And so it was one week. We all converged. I went online, and I typed in medium sized dog at the local rescue. Our puppy’s face popped up. I knew it was him right away. It turns out he’s going to be either a large or an extra large dog. He is not a medium sized dog. His name is Blue. We went to look at him and of course, we brought him home that night. And I was definitely, like, in a very calm sleep. Great. Sleeping with my cat equilibrium kind of place. And it’s definitely added in a big dollop of chaos.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah. But that’s a great thing to change your mind about. I love it. I love dogs. It’s, uh, been a while since I’ve had a dog, but I love it. So what are you working on now? What’s the next big thing for you? And then tell us how people can connect with you.
Bari Tessler: Yeah. So a few big things are literally weeks away. So I don’t know when this is going to go live, but two things. So one, my second book is being published, which is the workbook you mentioned. So it’s a 200 page of journaling exercises that are a great companion to the first book, where the first book is more the methodology and stories of mine and the community. So this workbook is coming out May 31 from Shambala, and I’m, um, so excited to have a second book. So that’s big. The second big thing is that I’m opening up my very first mentorship program for therapists and coaches and financial professionals. And it’s going to be a four month, um, mentorship program where I’ve been asked to do something like this for well over a decade, and I just wasn’t ready and didn’t want to do a certification, which I kept being asked about. So this is not a certification. It’s more of a mentorship for all of these professionals. One, so that they have a safe place to be doing their own personal money work. Two, so they can go deeper in all the tools and practices that I teach in the year long program because they need to be bringing those to their clients and their businesses. And three, I want a community where they’re all cross pollinating and the financial planners have things to learn from the therapists, and the therapists have things to learn from the financial coaches and planners and so on. So I’m, um, weeks away from. I’m opening that up on May 15 and it will be June through September. And so that’s my new big thing.
Jonathan DeYoe: That’s awesome. Definitely send me the links to, uh, both of those things and I will include those in the show notes and I’ll share with my small advisor community the cohort that’s going to begin, I guess, here very soon and maybe there’ll be some interest there. I’m happy to do that, just personally. And then how do people connect with you?
Bari Tessler: Yeah. Please come to my website, barrytessler.com baritessler. You can join my weekly newsletter. You can find my I’m so there’s a lot going on through my website and then I’m on for social media, Instagram, and Facebook. You can find me in both of those places. I’m a little more quiet these days, but I’m there weekly, so you can find me in all of those places. Yeah.
Jonathan DeYoe: Great. Barry, thank you for coming on the Mindful Money podcast.
Bari Tessler: Thank you for a lovely interview. You are very present and calm. Thank you, thank you.