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Mindful : December 2018
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 com- plexity 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: 1 BASIC NEEDS LEVEL These are the bare-bones, bottom-line needs for your life. And only you decide what that means. Is it just groceries, rent, and utilities? Does it include a particular kind of food? Is a daily coffee a must for you to func- tion? Does it include savings and debt repayment? You’re the boss here. 2 COMFORTABLE LIFESTYLE LEVEL Here, introduce some more comfort into your lifestyle. What’s included? How much? Does this mean a monthly (or even weekly) massage or pedicure? Some disposable income for movies, restaurant dinners, or the latest elec- tronic gadgets? The ability to gift a little money to friends and family? The Three-Tier Money Map 3 ULTIMATE LIFESTYLE LEVEL Here we progress another step. Imag- ine having sufficient income to live out the fullest expression of your desires. All your intentions are funded. Does this look like millions of dollars in the bank, jet-setting from Tokyo to Bue- nos Aires to Paris, anytime you like? Or is it a surprisingly simple lifestyle, living debt-free on a rural sheep farm? Take the time to clarify what this means for you. Everyone defines their Three-Tier Money Map differently: One person’s Comfortable tier is closer to another person’s Basic Needs or even Ultimate tier. Our definitions and dreams for each of these levels are as unique as we are, involving not only different types of expenses, but also vastly different amounts. This framework is supportive and illuminating no matter what your income level or expenses are. Any- one can get out of control with their spending habits, bury their head in the sand about their income or debt, or lose focus on their priorities. And no matter how much or how little money you have, directing it with intention is always a pathway to greater clarity, connection, and empowerment. 40 mindful December 2018 get real