We can take any area or habit in our lives, fill it up with intentionality, awareness, and compassionate discipline, and reap deep rewards. When we take the time to love and replenish ourselves, we reconnect with our true nature and return to the world more capable of sharing our gifts.
What if you could turn your “money stuff” into a decadent self-care practice? What if all that money drudgery could feel every bit as luxurious as that bubble bath (or whatever your version of that is)? What if you actually looked forward to your money practice because it made you so much happier, more alive, and mindful? What if it was founded in and reinforced your most cherished values?
A self-care practice is something you do consciously, with intention, on a regular basis, to support and grow yourself. It’s a healthy habit that, over time, provides a cumulative benefit.
It’s something you do over and over again (and ideally get better at, over time).
A true money practice is ongoing and consistent. Let’s say you decide to check your account balances once a week, on Monday evenings. At first, things might feel awkward and shaky. But if you’re consistent, this resistance and awkwardness will dissipate. Over time, your nervous system will relax into the reassuring repetition. If you keep showing up to your practice, you will get better and better at it.
It’s supportive and nurturing. The benefits may be physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, or some combination thereof.
A regular money practice will do wonders for your financial world. By tracking your income, spending, and savings, you can wield more conscious control over this area of your life and align it ever more closely with your values. But the benefits don’t stop there. Engaging with your money regularly can help you bolster your self-esteem, deepen your sense of safety, and strengthen your intimate relationships.
The best self-care practices connect us ever more deeply to ourselves, to each other, and to our spirituality. Our practices mirror back to us who we are, how we’ve grown, and who we’re becoming.
If you bring love and full awareness of your money practice, it will always bring you back to the present moment. If you do the same money practice over and over again, it will mirror back to you how you have grown and changed, over time. You may understand yourself better and better, and show up to your relationships with more peace of mind and playfulness.
There are a few elements we can incorporate into our money practice to make it the most successful, fulfilling, and transformative as possible:
Find the right amount of time to put into it. Not too much, not too little, not too hot, not too cold, but just right. In a money practice, you need to find the right amount of time and effort to devote to this area of your life so you enjoy the benefits without feeling neglectful, obsessive, or overworked.
Honor rhythms and cycles. When you begin a money practice, you may have buckets of enthusiasm, and devote an hour each day to it, only to find that, a few months later, you’re craving a break. There may be phases in your life or periods in your year (like tax time) where it needs more attention and love from you. Allow your money practice to ebb and flow: This is all normal, wonderful, and part of the process.
Experiment and fine-tune. Thinking you have to practice perfectly can keep you from practicing at all. Please take this pressure off yourself and give yourself permission to experiment. You might begin tracking your expenses on beautiful, creatively designed spreadsheets you make yourself, only to decide six months later that you want to switch to an online tracking system. Rest assured, you are allowed (and even encouraged) to shift your tools and practices over time, as feels right to you.
Welcome guidance. Please don’t beat up on yourself for not knowing how to do everything perfectly on Day 1 (or even Day 101). If you find yourself overwhelmed and in over your head, please take a breath, take a pause, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Remember to insert body check-ins liberally and go as slowly as you need to, engaging with things in small, manageable chunks, with plenty of breaks to integrate and calm down.
The Three Levels of a Money Practice
At this level, we get things done.
- Get online and check your balances
- Track expenses, spending, savings, and investing
- Review and reconcile your accounts
- Pay bills
- Work with your financial support team (friend, partner, bookkeepers, accountants, coaches, attorneys, consumer debt advocates, etc.)
At this level, we practice being compassionately mindful of our moment-to-moment experiences with money.
- Practice a body check-in: Notice any sensations, emotions, or patterns around your money
- Gently work through resistance
- Journal about feelings, memories, hopes, and dreams about money
- Work on forgiveness
- Do financial therapy
At this level, we explore the idea that money carries our deepest values and connects us with what matters most.
- Trust: Relax into the larger vision of your life, and know that you are taken care of
- Thriving: Deepen your experience of prosperity and abundance, whatever that means for you, in this phase of your life
- Generosity: Express your generosity and deep caring for others in ways that feel good, aligned, and sustainable for you—in some years, this might mean donating 10% of your income to a charity; in leaner times, you might volunteer at a food bank once a month
Create a Money Practice Schedule
Your money practice is a golden opportunity to explore and hone compassionate discipline. Schedule weekly and monthly money dates in your calendar, always at the same time, for example. This formality and structure help us carve a new groove where one did not exist and is a good foil for your resistance. You may actually start looking forward to money practices, and even—gasp—doing them for fun.
Daily Money Practice
Save and track your expenses.
Find a way to track the spending that feels good to you. Simply pausing and saying, “Yes, I’d like a receipt” at the register can bring a small breath of mindfulness to your money relationship. If keeping paper receipts feels too outdated for you, make it a regular practice to check your online balances. Then, every day or so, create a peaceful environment for yourself and sync your bank with your bookkeeping system or download your current transactions.
Please be on the lookout for any opportunity to congratulate yourself for money work, large or small. Gift yourself a sweet Huzzah! each time you complete a round of entering your receipts or remember to do a body check-in. These simple acknowledgments reinforce your progress and keep you on track.
Weekly Money Practice
This is your time to do a “financial housecleaning”: You’ll survey your practical landscape, clean things up, and make small course corrections.
Review your daily steps. Think back over the previous week and take note of how many times you did your daily practices, how that felt to you, what supported or hindered your success, and anything you may want to shift. You may decide to lower your expectations one rung and aim for an every-other-day practice. Or, you might decide it’s time to set firmer personal boundaries. Remember to be open and lighthearted here.
Get current with filing. Enter and file any remaining receipts from the week, check your balances, make deposits, and review your transactions for anything unusual or in error.
Pay your bills. You might mail checks, pay online, or set up automatic withdrawals.
Attend to other money-related matters. Send in health insurance claims, transfer monies between accounts, follow up on that fee waiver at the bank, etc. You might also check for any “money leaks”—expenses you are no longer using (like an old gym membership) and attend to these.
Monthly Money Practice
45 minutes-1 hour
Take this time to check in with your money mindset, your monthly spending, and your bigger financial goals.
Love up your space. Take good care of yourself, first: do a body check-in, adjust your environment as needed. Purge any clutter or mess in your physical space: get rid of files you no longer need; donate, gift, or trash items in your way. When we free up our space, we often access more energy, enthusiasm, and flow.
Reconcile your accounts. Go through your monthly bank statements and make sure all of your transactions have been recorded in your tracking system. If it automatically syncs with your bank, it’s still a good idea to look at each transaction to catch any errors, recurring charges, or duplicates.
View and review. For the first few months, simply track and witness your financial behavior and patterns without making changes to them. Make gentle, direct contact with your financial reports. Print them out or look at them on-screen in your tracking system. After you’ve tracked things for a good three to six months, look at your income for the month. Is it steady, or has it changed? Do you notice any big patterns here? Notice how you feel about the numbers, and to what extent your work feels in alignment with your values. Celebrate your successes, and note what you’d like to change, moving forward.
Now, review your expense categories. What goals and intentions got attention (and funding) this month? Take a deep breath, and ask yourself which of your deep values you have honored in your spending, and which you’d like to spend more supporting. Again, celebrate your successes, and ever-so-gently inquire into any goals you didn’t meet.
You may also choose to compare this month’s data to the previous month’s. Notice any change, any trends (increasing or decreasing numbers). Stay as compassionate as you can—this is a work in progress!
Refine your plan. Do you want to shift your income, expenses, savings, investing, or debt repayment goals? Where do you need to allocate more funds, and which areas could stand some defunding?
Celebrate! Shower yourself with an appreciation for your courage, discipline, and openness. Set your intention to stay current with your tracking and other practices, and set a date for your next monthly practice.
Once a year (or every six months), you will gently and compassionately review the year that you just lived.
Follow the same process as the monthly practice, but instead of looking at just one month, you will review the entire year, at once. Connect with what phase of life you are in, what is most important to you now, and where you are headed. Take stock of what the preceding year (or six month period) has been all about in the grand vision of your life, and do your best to set intentions for the year to come, knowing that you can’t know everything that will happen.