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How happy would you be if you had all the money in the world? The universal lament about money is that there is never enough. We spend endless hours obsessing over our budgets and investments, trying to figure out ways to stretch every dollar. We try to follow the advice of money gurus and financial planners, then kick ourselves whenever we spend too much or save too little. For all of the stress and effort we put into every choice, why are most of us unhappy about our finances?...
How happy would you be if you had all the money in the world? The universal lament about money is that there is never enough. We spend endless hours obsessing over our budgets and investments, trying to figure out ways to stretch every dollar. We try to follow the advice of money gurus and financial planners, then kick ourselves whenever we spend too much or save too little. For all of the stress and effort we put into every choice, why are most of us unhappy about our finances?
According to Laura Vanderkam, the key is to change your perspective. Instead of looking at money as a scarce resource, consider it a tool that you can use creatively to build a better life for yourself and the people you care about.
For instance, the average couple spends $5,000 on engagement and wedding rings, making these pricey purchases largely because everyone else does. But what if you decided to spend $300 on rings and apply the rest to future date nights, weekend getaways, and thinking-of-you bouquets over the next ten years? In he long run, what would bring more joy to your marriage? Likewise, will owning a home with a pristine lawn and a two-car garage—the American Dream—really make you more satisfied? Or are you saving up for this investment just because financial planners tell you it’s worth it?
Vanderkam shows how each of us can figure out better ways to use what we have to build the lives we want. Drawing on the latest happiness research as well as the stories of dozens of real people, Vanderkam offers a contrarian approach that forces us to examine our own beliefs, goals, and values.
Among her advice:
Introduction You Have More Money Than You Think 1
Chapter 1 What Else Could That Ring Buy? 15
Chapter 2 Don't Scrimp More, Make More 35
Chapter 3 Rethink Retirement 60
Chapter 4 Laughing at the Joneses 85
Chapter 5 The Best Weekend Ever 109
Chapter 6 The Marginal Cost of Children 123
Chapter 7 The Chicken Mystique 141
Chapter 8 The Selfish Joy of Giving 161
Chapter 9 Another Way to Invest 183
All the Money in the World
Chapter 10 Ode to a Ziploc Bag 203
The How to Buy Happiness Handbook 203
Posted March 12, 2012
All The Money In The World is predicated on the idea that, if you had all the money in the world, how would your life change, and how would that money buy you happiness? Vanderkam wants you to consider both the dream purchases and the practical, everyday impacts that money would create...and then find the ways to start building that life here and now, with the money you currently have. In a similar vein to 168 Hours Vanderkam illustrates the control we have on our finances-- that how we spend our money is choice, that one dollar spent on something is one dollar not spent on something else. This mindset enables one to think more carefully about where their money is going, and if it is being used to build a happy life. Vanderkam starts almost immediately with reframing the idea that money can buy happiness....if you make smart, personal choices with it.
While Vanderkam avows that she is not a financial guru, her book still gives practical, sensible and usable advice on how we get, spend, share and feel about money. She encourages people to play "offense and not defense" with their money-- thinking how you can make more, rather than how you can scrimp to cut spending. "The Joneses" become a target-- as Vanderkam forces us to question whether the stereotypical major purchases of modern life really bring us happiness, or are we just buying what we think we should be buying, because society encourages us to have big houses, shiny new cars and overflowing closets. I am someone who has always focused on the allocation of money-- from as young as I can remember, when I used to sort my babysitting money in envelopes for spending and saving. I've always also attached a lot of guilt to money, being hypersensitive on every dime I spent, always worried if it was a necessary purchase, or if I could have gotten it for less. This work has reframed my thinking of my finances, and given me the freedom to believe that, if this money is buying me happiness and helping to build the life and world I want to live in, then it is money well spent.
I argue that both this and Vanderkam's earlier book, 168 Hours, are companion works. Both are built on the same foundation: we don't think we have enough time, we don't think we have enough money, but if we analyze and rethink some aspects of our lives, we will find that we do. I also found that they echoed each other in many places. You can buy time with money, and time well spent can earn you more money. I am so thankful that I've read both of these works. I feel like I am smarter and more sensible as a result, but more importantly, happier.
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Posted July 8, 2012
Ms. Vanderkam’s intentions for writing this book are made clear early, “If money can’t buy happiness, perhaps we’re not spending it right” (p.10). There are three ways to become “rich”: obtain more wealth, use less of the wealth one has or be satisfied with the amount one already possesses. This well done, clearly presented tome is not about money/wealth management, investing nor is it an instruction book on “how to get rich” in the manner that phrase is generally understood. It is, rather, a discourse on how wealth can bring more happiness regardless of the amount of money (or wealth) in one’s “pocket.”
The suggestions Ms. Vanderkam makes are along the lines of asking the reader to consider how they approach, use and think about wealth. As “wealth” is measured in much broader terms than a particular monetary unit, the answers quickly begin to shift one’s perspective both of their wealth and the meaning of that wealth. When one understands wealth in the limited terms of numbers (bank accounts, houses, cars, etc.) then one seeks to add pleasure by adding “things.” When one asks, “what makes me happiest?” or “what brings me the most pleasure?” the answers rarely take the form of “numbers.” Often, it does take money to fill the list discovered by the questions (proving the truth of the proverb, “Money is only important when you DON’T have it.”) but it does not take as much capital as one fools himself into believing it requires,
The research the author presents consistently shows two foundations for “being happy” as they relate to wealth: 1) experiences last longer and bring more pleasure than possessions and 2) the pleasure found in giving lasts as long as the memory of the gift and is not dependent upon the particular gift. She repeatedly insists that money does not equal happiness – it is but a means to the end of “happiness.” “Finding” the money to have such experiences, give such gifts or obtain increased “numbers” is a vital part of her argument and a major focus of this work.
The book does not present itself to have a faith-based or religious basis but it does contain several Biblical references relating to wealth and happiness. Ms. Vanderkam’s research indicates that supporting local businesses does more for the local economy so strongly that the reader will be tempted to boycott all Big Box stores, if only for a day, and buy “local.” With like vigor, the reader’s will begin to accept, at least those who can afford to buy this book (whether they do so or not), that they are among the wealthiest people in human history, irrespective of the size of their bank account, stock portfolio or wardrobe.
This book will be the next addition to “The Marital Reading List” I give to couples wanting to marry or wishing to strengthen their union. Routinely reassessing one’s view of money/wealth is important; discussing the subject of wealth in a committed relationship is a non-negotiable if the couples wish to afford the happiness they desire. The book can help start that chat.
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Posted November 13, 2012
This book has some weird ideas that for this reader kept me thinking to myself WTH…
But in another hand it had some up points too.
The book was interesting and informative to a point as long as the author quite straying from the flock so to speak from ideas and idioms.
Here's a list the ideas that book basically has in it:
Become aware of what you're doing with your money
Question yourself about spending, saving and earning
Determine what you are spending on and why you are doing it
Make financial decisions accordingly by asking yourself are they worth it.
Posted July 1, 2012