All the Money in the World: What the Happiest People Know About Getting and Spending

All the Money in the World: What the Happiest People Know About Getting and Spending

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by Laura Vanderkam
     
 

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

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Overview

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:

  • Laugh at the Joneses: It’s human nature to compare yourself to those around you, but you can create lifestyle hat rings you personal satisfaction without copying your neighbors.
  • Give yourself the best weekend ever: Studies show that experiences often bring more pleasure than material goods. With a little planning and creativity, you can give yourself a memorable getaway without leaving town or going broke.
  • Embrace the selfish joy of giving: Giving back not only helps you build karma, it also helps you build a community—which is much more fulfilling than a tax deduction. All the Money in the World is a practical and inspiring guide that shows how money can buy happiness—if we spend it wisely.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Money is a powerful, complicated thing, and our beliefs about it—and behavior around it—are muddled, says Vanderkam (168 Hours). To become more mindful about our choices, she writes, we should explore the link between money and happiness, and use money to optimize our well-being and the well-being of people we care about. We need to stop thinking about money as something evil or soulless, or as a point of competition with others. Vanderkam explores the ways in which thinking more cogently about money’s role in our lives can bring us peace, and asks: if you had all the money in the world—not literally, but all you wanted—what would you change about your life? She walks readers through rethinking retirement, eschewing keeping up with the Joneses, filling time with favorite activities, giving to charities, and, overall, figuring out how to create the life they want. Vanderkam’s gracious, levelheaded polemic will give readers some much-needed sanity around this difficult topic; as she observes: “If money can’t buy happiness, perhaps we’re not spending it right.” Agent: Emilie Stewart, Emilie Stewart Literary Agency. (Mar.)
Gretchen Rubin
“Money is one of the most complex, emotionally charged issues within the larger subject of happiness. In this engaging and thought-provoking book, Laura Vanderkam explains how we can get the most happiness bang for our buck—right here and now, in the way we live our ordinary lives.”
-Gretchen Rubin
“Money is one of the most complex, emotionally charged issues within the larger subject of happiness. In this engaging and thought-provoking book, Laura Vanderkam explains how we can get the most happiness bang for our buck—right here and now, in the way we live our ordinary lives.”
-Adelaide Lancaster
All the Money in the World offers a total rethink on personal finance. Instead of prescribing the same-old hard-to-follow rules, Vanderkam encourages you to take your own values and goals into account when it comes to saving and spending. It is packed with creative ideas on how to get more, spend less, and most importantly, better use what you have. This book shows you that it’s not dollar signs that are standing in the way of what you want in life.”
-Crystal Paine
“Bravo! Laura writes another thoroughly-researched and thought-provoking book! Whether you're an extravagant spender, a frugal coupon-clipper, or anywhere in between, All the Money in the World will challenge your longheld financial beliefs and practices. This book is guaranteed to make you think long and hard about how to allocate your money to bring you true fulfillment.”
-Zac Bissonnette
“With extensive research and rare insight, Laura Vanderkam reveals the financial mindset that can lead to lasting happiness.”
Kirkus Reviews
Vanderkam (168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, 2010, etc.), a member of the USA Today Board of Contributors, takes a fresh look at financial planning. The author debunks the traditional approach to budgeting in which fixed percentages are allocated to predetermined categories that prioritize the basics such as housing and food. According to Vanderkam, the trick to remaining financially solvent without sacrificing is not to scrimp and save on the small items--the lattes and occasional nights out. She offers a road map about how this might be accomplished and substantiates her claim that "the resources we already have or can obtain can do more for our happiness than we think." A key tenet is that our happiness is not based on the accumulation of big-ticket items--diamond engagement rings, super-sized homes and cars--but on the accumulation of everyday pleasures, especially those activities we share with friends and family. Vanderkam provides thought-provoking examples of how it's possible, even in a depressed economy, to explore new entrepreneurial opportunities to supplement income as an alternative to penny-pinching self-denial. She also warns of the pitfall inherent in saving for retirement--not only because of the effect that market volatility can have on a nest egg, but also the possibility of inflation. She suggests that it is better to find rewarding work than plan for early retirement, and warns of the dangers of becoming entrapped by the "hedonic treadmill" of increased expectations and spending more for less. Quirky, insightful and enjoyable--a welcome corrective to the typical advice from economists and financial managers steeped in the "dismal science."
Moira E. McLaughlin
Vanderkam's compelling book is not a lesson in greed or shallowness; rather, she asks you to consider ignoring what society says you ought to buy or own, and instead make choices according to your actual needs and desires…The result is a book that will quell readers' anxieties about money and inspire them to stop seeing its limitations and start seeing its potential, no matter what their tax bracket.
—The Washington Post

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781591844570
Publisher:
Portfolio Hardcover
Publication date:
03/01/2012
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
6.50(w) x 5.50(h) x 5.00(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Laura Vanderkam is the author of 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think and Grindhopping:  Build a Rewarding Career Without Paying Your Dues, which the New York Times hailed as “loaded with smart observations.” Her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, City Journal, the Huffington Post, USA Today, Scientific American, and Reader’s Digest, among other publications. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and their three children.

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