The Mindful Path to Financial Freedom

Ready to bring your current finances into harmony with your bigger life goals? Money mapping offers a mindful way forward.

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The true litmus test of a budget—what I like to call your “money map”—is whether it’s leading you toward a happy life. And you’re the only one qualified to define what a happy life looks like for you—and what steps you’re willing to take toward it. For some people, this may mean earning more money, spending less, or aggressively paying down debt. For others, it might actually mean working a little less, so they can enjoy time with family or recoup from a health crisis. Money mapping is about discerning what’s important to you in life (knowing there are rhythms and cycles to this), and then reverse-engineering a lifestyle that supports your version of happiness.

The Three-Tier Money Map

Most traditional approaches to budgeting have us list out a single, master-plan version of our income and expenses for the month. And while this may be helpful for some people as an initial money practice, it ignores the richness and complexity of our money relationship as something that is always unfolding, shifting, and evolving over time. The Three-Tier Money Map is the antidote for this oversimplification. Here is the framework:

Basic Needs Level

These are the bare-bones, bottom-line needs for…

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About the author

Bari Tessler

Bari Tessler is a financial therapist, author, and creator of the online Art of Money program at