I love this end of year money ritual for your finances because it makes me squeal, uncomfortable and motivated all at once. It gives me a chance to slow down, reflect and look back at all the amazing accomplishments I’ve done with my money this year.
Let me back up here. You can do this any time of the year. It’s just that most people tend to want to reflect at the end of the year. But if it’s June when you’re reading this, go right ahead and do this my friend!
It can be the same for you as well my friend. Yes, it’s scary to look at the numbers (especially if you haven’t done so before), but I assure it’ll help you get more clarity in your life in general and any intentions/goals you want to set.
You can make this end of year money ritual as formal or informal as you like. I personally grab a special notebook, make a cup masala chai and sit at my dining table to knock this all out. Some people break it up into a few days here and there. It doesn’t matter, the important thing is to do it.
Here are the steps I go through, including questions to ask and what to do with the information once it’s all out there.
When I became debt-free, I shrugged it off.
When I started earning more I shrugged if off.
When I got married and gave birth to a beautiful baby boy without needing to spend a dime shrugged it off.
Looking back, I’m shocked I didn’t celebrate any of this stuff. Celebrating our wins may be really uncomfortable (it still is for me at times) but it’s necessary to see how strong and able we are. Sure, you may still be in the thick of getting out of debt or working towards that dream vacation, but it’s so important to celebrate every single thing we’ve done, no matter how small it may seem.
Perhaps the most important part of this ritual is to prove to yourself that you’re doing good work. And yes, that you are enough.
What to do:
It’s really simple: List out at least 52 things you’re proud of this year. Find some way to relate it to money.
Here’s an example from my own journal last year:
Things I’m proud of:
- Made the leap into self-employment
- Paid for childcare so I can have time to grow the business
- Added two new income streams to my business
- Sold off items that were no longer adding value to my life
- Moved across three states on a budget
Once you’ve written down a list or patterns, it’s time to acknowledge them. This is an subtle but important part of any end of year ritual because it helps you see what your relationship was with money this year. Think about all the times when you were happy or stressed over money.
Here are some questions to ask to get to the heart of those themes:
- What were your plans (small or large) for 2017? What happened?
- Were there any transitions that happened this year?
- Did you start any new money management practices this year?
- What books did you read that called out to you?
- Did you take any money courses or work with a money coach this year?
- How did you feel about money emotionally this year?
Give yourself time to write whatever comes up for you. Take a deep breath and write down any themes. These will help you when you reflect and plan for 2018.
Themes that emerged for me were transitions, self-care and minimalism.
I don’t know about you, but this part tends to make me nervous. It’s the part where you get to look back at the not so fun parts of the year. I implore you to not shy away from any of this though.
The point here isn’t to shame yourself (please don’t do that). Rather, it’s to just understand that you’re human and it’s important to learn the lessons from all that’s happened this year. That’s all.
Here are some things to write down (if applicable):
- Did you take on any more debt?
- Were there any money events that happened you were ashamed of?
- Were there any investments you made that didn’t pay off?
- Did you save any of your paycheck?
- Did you make purchases you regret? If so, what were they?
- Did you do any decluttering/sell off any of your things? What did you do with that money?
- How did you feel about money emotionally this year?
Let me share with you a few of my not so proud moments (I gotta practice what I preach!):
- Let a friend take advantage of me financially
- Spent too much on loose leaf tea when I had a ton in the cupboard
- Made two impulse purchases on business courses
Look at the Numbers
This part of the process may take a few days, especially if it’s your first time doing this.
Your first step may to gather up all your financial records, and that’s ok.
Once you’ve got all those, it’s time to add them all up:
- Look at how much money you made. Include gifts and freebies
- Look at your expenses, aka how much you spend this year
- With your expenses, put them into categories, or values (if you’ve done values-based spending)
- Look at the money goals you had this year. Did you achieve them? By how much?
- Look at the goals again. Were they realistic? Did you unintentionally set yourself up for disappointment?
- Was there anything (or things) you learned about yourself this year?
Yup, a lot to take in. For now, you can see what I’ve come up during my ritual:
- I set up myself up for disappointment in the number of products I wanted to create and launch.
- I kept worrying about too much I wasn’t making and talked myself out of writing proposals for large client contracts.
- I didn’t spend as much time on holidays with the family.
Look and Reflect
Now is the time to absorb the numbers, emotions, wins and mistakes and reflect upon it all. Yes, you’ve looked at themes and all that, but it’s helpful to do it one more time once you’ve written the numbers down.
This is the point where you just allow all the emotions to come up, the good, bad and the ugly. Cry if you need to. Scream if you need to. Celebrate once again if you need to.
Letting It All Go
Now it’s time to let all of the bad stuff go. Not to forget it, but to forgive yourself for what’s happened. Just look at the “failures” or lessons learned and let them go. I suggest to my money coaching clients to look at yourself in the mirror and speak to yourself. It’s a bit weird, but it really works.
Other people write them down and rip up the paper or meditate. Some drink wine or do something celebratory after this part of the ritual is done.
Once you’ve completed this part, it’s not over. Remember, your relationship with money is fluid. The ritual is to merely get you to think about what has happened. Now is the time to move forward and create a ritual to help you set future goals and desires. You get to set intentions and get excited about the upcoming year. Because the point is to continue to better your money so you can achieve those dreams, right?
If you try this out, let me know in the comments below how it goes!