After weeks of anticipation, I finally received my copy of The Art of Money: A Life-Changing Guide to Financial Happiness by Bari Tessler. As a member of Bari’s street team, I received an early digital copy to review, but couldn’t wait for the arrival of the hard back copy to highlight, dog-ear pages, and get stuck into for a more in-depth and honest review.
I'm Louise Bartlett, a creative entrepreneur, designer, yogini and mama. I unexpectedly stumbled across Bari’s Conscious Bookkeeping over a decade ago, for my then business, Beatnik Bags. I knew instantly that I'd found a refreshing change to regular money practices - one offering something more than just accounts and spreadsheets. It included tools and guidance completely in alignment to my business goals and my heart-centred values. I’ve been a loyal follower of Bari’s blog posts, tips and tricks around money, and silently cheering her on in her own personal and business journey to where she is now - an author! How incredible, how inspiring, and how uplifting to know that living a life of happiness with and around money is actually possible?!?!
From the moment I opened the book and read the very first paragraph, I was hooked:
"You believe a good life is a conscious one. You reflect deeply, question the status quo, and infuse your decisions with good intentions. You might not have it all figured out, but you're pretty sure the meaning of life has something to do with being as loving, compassionate, and mindful as possible, in big choices and teensy ways, every day: from smiling at passerby to being a conscious parent to finding a way to make a big, positive impact on the world with your one beautiful life." (p.9)
It instantly felt like this book was written just for me and if that was the first paragraph, then the rest of the book must be life-changing. It resonated with me like no other book about money management, finances, or spreadsheets ever has. This book speaks to me from deep inside my heart and soul. And, it’s jam-packed with loving anecdotes from Bari’s treasure trove of client and personal stories.
The book begins with an elephant worth friending: “An area of your life that you’d rather not think about, let alone talk about. One last taboo that can still turn your palms sweaty and give you that icky, pit-in-the-stomach feeling. It’s the elephant in the room. MONEY.” (p.9)
Bari graciously identifies 8 key areas around money that people may feel abundant in, such as clarity or value, or areas that don’t currently serve us well, which for me, is knowledge. These areas lay the groundwork for creating a financial support system where you need it most.
The next chapter introduces the three phases of deep money work; Money Healing, Money Practices, and Money Maps. Bari lovingly introduces the concepts and paves the way for the juicy details about each to be revealed.
First phase: Money Healing. Bari’s caring and guided approach to money practices is really spot on for me. It’s where we start to heal our money shame. There's no judgement or ridicule. Instead, it’s carefully structured guidance to lead one from understanding money, to the underlying emotions and old stories that often stop us dead in our tracks from taking full responsibility and owning our power around money. Bari challenges us to own that power and the stories we create around it - without fear. The book is filled to the brim with loving, heart-centred stories and vulnerabilities - and makes it all OK and REAL.
It incorporates useful tools, such as the body check-in, a mindful approach to remaining present and empowered while identifying tough challenges. She offers practical advise for creating money healing rituals and invites us to dig deep and uncover any emotional traumas that still rear their ugly heads. Bari reiterates again and again that your own way is the right way and that there is nothing wrong with where we are at within any given moment of our personal journey. Bari holds your hand while you take baby steps to re-write your story, not just about money, but about other areas in your life where you may not be standing in your true power.
Phase 2: Money Practices. In phase one, Bari invites to look inwardly at your own money story, beginning with the emotional aspect of money and your beliefs around it, before launching into any “to-do” lists or spreadsheets, which can often stop us in our tracks or worse - give up. Phase two is about getting down to the financial nitty-gritty, by introducing a values-based bookkeeping method. “So many of us affirm our commitment to values like creativity, sustainability, intimacy, or personal growth. Yet so often, we assume that money is somehow separate from these crucial values that make our lives our own.” (p.162)
Instead, Bari encourages us to look at money through a more creative lens: “Imagine looking over your budget for the month. Your expense categories might include: Mortgage, Student Loan Debt, Car Payment, Groceries. Now, consider these categories, instead: Home Sweet Home, Fabulous Education, Wheels, Nourishment. Might that inspire you to feel just a little more engaged with your finances? Renaming our categories is one of the simplest and easiest of Money Practices—and a lot can happen when you shift your words.” (p.170)
And finally phase three: Money Maps. This is my favourite part of the book, as it aligns so closely with the way I actively visualise my life and my business. This is where we dream big and get to dance with those dreams in different ways. Does the life we want align to the model we have created for ourselves? Does it ultimately lead us to a life of happiness? With Bari’s three-tiered approach, you get to define your own money framework and how it might evolve over time - learning to strike YOUR perfect balance. She invites you to remain lovingly present in the natural rhythms and cycles of life as you may need to adjust your money maps as you move through phases of growth and transition.
As an added bonus, Bari’s included practical resources to help with more traditional money management practices, as well as more thought-provoking resources to support your journey in a more holistic way, including my favourites, Brené Brown and Danielle La Porte.
In conclusion, The Art of Money: A Life-Changing Guide to Financial Happiness offers a gracious guide through our own transformational money journey. Bari's approach applies heart-centered, practical and intelligent introspection. It is a must-read for anyone who's ready to step into their greatness around money, get real with it and take back power. The benefits will flow through all corners of your life.
Full disclosure: There are some affiliate links on this page, which means if you click on the links above and purchase this book from Amazon, I’ll get a small commission.