You Don't Have to Be Rich: Comfort, Happiness, and Financial Security on Your Own Terms

Overview

Do you have to be rich to be happy?
Would being richer make you happier?
Does money buy happiness?

Not the sort of questions you usually hear from a personal finance expert, especially one as popular and respected as Jean Chatzky, of Money magazine and The Today Show. But in these difficult times, when many of her fans are struggling with job insecurity, declining ...
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Overview

Do you have to be rich to be happy?
Would being richer make you happier?
Does money buy happiness?

Not the sort of questions you usually hear from a personal finance expert, especially one as popular and respected as Jean Chatzky, of Money magazine and The Today Show. But in these difficult times, when many of her fans are struggling with job insecurity, declining investments, and fear of the future, Chatzky decided to write a different kind of personal finance book. Instead of just explaining what to do with your 401(k), she set out to explore the big picture: what makes a happy, successful life and how much money you really need to have one.

Chatzky's research led her to some astounding results. Her groundbreaking survey of thousands of Americans, conducted with the help of the Roper Organization, revealed that more often than not, the amount of money people make-whether it's $50,000 or $5,000, 000 a year-- has little bearing on how happy they are. In fact, Chatzky found that unless you're desperately poor, money can't make you happy. But it can-if you're handling it wrong -make you miserable.

YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE RICH reveals what the happiest people in America have in common when it comes to managing their money, and what the rest of us can learn from them. For instance, they have distinctly different habits and behaviors about things you might consider minor, such as how often you pay your bills, and what you do with your bank statement when it arrives in the mail (hint: shoving it unopened into the desk drawer isn't a good idea.)

As Chatzky explains, just because your investments have slumped doesn't mean you should give up on saving, investing, and financial planning. A comfortable, secure life is still well within your reach.

Guided by the research, Chatzky offers clear-cut strategies that you can implement to help you feel more in control of your money. They will help you spend smartly, eliminate your debts and both set and reach your financial goals, Be prepared to take a good hard look at your money habits. A questionnaire in every chapter will show you where your money management tactics are serving you well, and where they fall short. Then you'll be able to use the answers to improve your financial habits and ratchet up your happiness a notch or two.

Written in Chatzky's popular, down-to-earth style and filled with fresh insights, YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE RICH proves that your money doesn't have to be a source of stress, but can instead be the path to comfort and financial freedom it was always meant to be.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Chatzky, a Today show contributor and columnist for Money, Time and USA Weekend, acknowledges that the combined impact of the declining stock market, war and continuing unemployment have led people to worry about money more than in the recent past. However, Chatzky says, they don't know what to do with their concerns. The solution: "It's time to take back our lives. And in order to do that we need to take back our money.... We need to regain our financial power if we feel we've ceded it. Or to grab hold of that power, even if we've never paid much attention before." To find out what steps people should take, Chatzky and the Roper Center surveyed 1,505 people about the impact of money on their happiness, and how prepared they feel with their financial plans for the future. Chatzky uses the survey responses as chapter openers and then goes on to offer anecdotes and advice. She discusses finding the right job, saving, setting realistic goals, planning for emergencies and more. Chatzky's style is friendly and her counsel sound, though less extensive than some readers may need. Those struggling with basic money woes, like debt or trying to put away savings for their children's college education, will find this book helpful, but people wanting more in-depth or sophisticated information would do better with other investment guides. (Oct.) Forecast: Given Chatzky's national platforms on television and in print, this one will likely generate strong sales. But whether this book will have the long-term success of works by Suze Orman remains to be seen. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Get this book before the Today show four-part series. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781591840121
  • Publisher: Portfolio
  • Publication date: 9/29/2003
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.32 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 0.97 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Introduction
It was shortly after September 11—a time of turmoil in the markets, when it was impossible to read the newspapers, turn on the television, or even listen to the radio without feeling out of control financially— that I started to think about the effects money has on the happiness of individuals. The shenanigans of corporate executives in far-flung locales from Texas to Connecticut to Mississippi had sent stock prices plummeting. Wall Street analysts—those supposedly neutral parties who tell us what to buy, hold, and (all too rarely) sell—could no longer be trusted. Neither could the accounting firms that were supposed to keep companies on the straight and narrow. The measures that usually moved stocks in a positive direction— from cost-saving layoffs to corporate stock buybacks—had stopped working their magic. Even speeches from the President of the United States and (can you believe it!) Alan Greenspan couldn’t seem to turn the indexes around.

And we—you and I—the individual investors and consumers sitting at home, pouring money into our 401(k)s, putting money into college savings accounts for our kids, counting on these companies to continue to employ us—we couldn’t do a thing about any of it.

We had no way of knowing whether more corporations would fess up to creative accounting, no crystal balls to tell us if more CFOs were cooking the books. All we knew was that the tried-and-true wisdom— “buy and hold,” “buy the dips”—wasn’t doing the trick this time around. And although we had past history to fall back on—the history that tells us that markets do, over the long term, come back—we could only hope that would prove to be the case once again. But whether or not it actually happened was clearly beyond our control.

There were a lot of us sitting in that rocky boat. Some 100 million Americans had bought individual stocks by the turn of the new century. And every one of them had the distinct impression (not to mention the correct impression) that their world had been rocked.

You know this. You were there with me trying to get a clear sense of what was down that uncertain road. You knew you wanted to buy that first house (or trade up from the one you were living in now). You wanted to send those kids off to a great college, without saddling them with an unimaginable amount of debt. You wanted to be able to retire someday, or at least slow the pace a bit. And when you left this earth, you thought it might be nice to leave at least a little something behind for the next generation. All of those things that seemed so possible, so feasible, so easy a scant few years ago now seemed out of reach.

I know that’s how you’ve been feeling the past couple of years. I know you’ve been sitting up nights, sweating your future, pondering your losses, worrying that you’re going to have to give up that comfortable home, or that keeping it means you’ll never be able to stop working—and even dreading the thought that when your health goes, you’re going to end up being something you never wanted to be: a burden to your adult kids. I know that your financial situation has become a big drain on your happiness.

I know because you’ve been telling me. You’ve been writing me, filling my e-mail box (and occasionally my snail-mail one) with the details of your financial lives and how complicated they’ve become—and the drain on your overall happiness that can be.

Some of you were looking for an easy fix. Florence from Philadelphia wrote: “I have 75 percent of my money tied up in stocks. Should I leave what’s in my portfolio there and see what happens—or sell to preserve what I have left?” R.C. from Albuquerque was in similar straits: “Would you please give some basic suggestions to us shopaholics with no budgeting skills? Must I go cold turkey?”

But many others, like Peter in Colorado, just wanted to commiserate. “I have had to defer my retirement, even though I’ve been saving and investing in stocks and mutual funds that I felt were relatively secure. Now, with companies like Enron and Worldcom losing value, coupled with the Nasdaq and Dow plunging, a fair percentage of my portfolio has disappeared. As a result, I expect to work a couple of years longer.”

How We Embraced the Market—and Lost Our Way
How did we get here? How did we allow this to happen to us? These are the kinds of overarching questions investors and, to a lesser extent, consumers were asking themselves in the beginning of 2003.

To understand the transformation from the arm’s-length-from-the-market bystanders we used to be to the in-the-game-at-all-times participants we’ve become, you have to revisit the longest bull market in history, starting with the crash of 1987. To most people 1987 was the year the Dow dropped 400 points and lost 22 percent of its value in a single trading session. I was working as an assistant business editor at Working Woman magazine at the time and vividly remember spending the day talking to distraught traders and investment bankers in lower Manhattan. The shaky voices, tears, and disbelief told me none of them had seen anything like this in their careers. For many, it was their own little taste of the Great Depression.

Yet the crash of ’29 wasn’t at all like the crash of ’87 if you measure by speed of the rebound. In 1987 the Dow Jones Industrial Average posted an overall gain for the year. That fact was pounded on tables for the next decade—and more. The lesson was: If you’d used the crash as a buying opportunity—you would have come out ahead. All of a sudden, buying the dips was the clever thing to do.

Not only that, it was fun! It was a kick to sink your free cash into a stock like Microsoft, then watch it double and split, double and split. If you were smart enough to buy Citigroup when it dropped to $13, or IBM in the teens in ’93, you were rewarded as both soared into triple digits. And, because this strategy worked so often and for so long, we stopped asking ourselves, But is this a company worth its share price? Or does it have such deep-seated fundamental problems that it will never recover?

The market became a game. And it had to be played. If you opted out, you left good money on the table. Worse, you had no stories to tell your friends over drinks, no tall tales for Saturday night’s dinner party. As Walter Kirn wrote in The New York Times Magazine in mid-2002: “It’s as if the whole country put up an ‘Out to Lunch’ sign sometime around mid-1997, except that we didn’t really go to lunch; we logged onto the Motley Fool Web site behind closed doors and screened our calls while quietly tracking Intel.”

It was hotter than Trivial Pursuit. Better than Pictionary. Compelling. Addictive. Who needed to tune into Who Wants to Be a Millionnaire? We could play the real-life version by watching CNBC on cable and making our own bets on e*trade at home. No surprise, then, that we all knew people who took the market to the extreme, giving up decent-paying jobs to try their hot little hands at day trading. Even if you didn’t go quite that far, you could still be a player. By the early ’90s many of us had the next best thing: a 401(k).

And 401(k)s changed everything. I am not exaggerating when I say it’s impossible to overstate the impact that 401(k)s, invented just twenty years ago, have had on our financial lives. By replacing the pension as the retirement vehicle of choice, 401(k)s took the responsibility for paying for our retirements off the shoulders of America’s corporations and put it squarely on your shoulders and mine. And while in the very beginning we were reticent to accept such a shift, as soon as the markets took off we embraced it.

And why wouldn’t we? Our 401(k)s were giving us the opportunity to snare a much more lavish retirement than we had ever thought possible. We could rack up beaucoup bucks in these accounts during our working years and then, when we slowed down, use the money to summer in Nantucket and winter in Telluride, to send our grandkids to Princeton, to retire at fifty if that was the goal. We knew it was possible. And we had gurus like Jim Cramer and Joe Battapaglia and books like The 401(k) Millionaire and Dow 36,000 to tell us how.

And Then We Got Ahead of Ourselves
As our paper riches started to accumulate faster and faster, it began to seem okay, natural, even deserving, to spend some of that money. After all, if our brilliance as investors had made us this much money, it would certainly make us much more. But rather than cashing out our positions in order to do it—which would leave potential profits on the table (our shares of Amazon.com, after all, were still climbing toward analyst Henry Blodgett’s $400 price target)—we borrowed. We floated trips to Europe and the Caribbean on our Visas and MasterCards. We didn’t put much money down on that new car or second home. Instead, we leveraged up. Debt seemed to make sense when the money was flowing this freely.

We didn’t even stop spending when the dot bomb blew. Consumer debt continued to rise through the 1990s and into the new millennium. Personal bankruptcies hit new highs every year. But instead of scaling back and taking a break from living large, we began to raid the equity in our homes to support our new lifestyles. With mortgage and home equity rates scraping the bottom of the barrel, we refinanced and took on lines of credit, not just to renovate and add value to our homes, but to consolidate credit card debts that we then allowed to ratchet right back up. A Louis Uchitelle piece in The New York Times in 2001 reported that despite the trillions in new wealth generated by the bull market, we owned less of the equity in our homes than any previous generation had.

There seemed to be no going back. By continuing to borrow during the late ’90s, we were able to continue to spend more than we were actually earning. In November 2002—three years into the market’s steady decline—our personal incomes climbed by only 3 percent. Personal spending grew a full 5 percent.

When the Worry Finally Caught Up
What finally stopped us in our tracks? What finally brought us back to reality? Not three consecutive down years in the stock market. Not rising unemployment. Not the threat of war overseas. No single one of these factors was enough to burst our bubble of glee. It wasn’t until a perfect storm of all of these factors hit at precisely the same time that we started to worry.

Unfortunately—besides worrying—we didn’t know what to do.

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released in July 2002, after the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 1,300 points in ten consecutive trading days, showed that 70 percent of individuals— nearly three-quarters of us—have little or no faith in the information that comes out of brokerage houses and investment banks. And yet many of us continue to rely on those institutions to manage our money for us. Shortly thereafter, a New York magazine piece focused on a woman who “vowed” not to open her 401(k) statements for the next two years. And there are plenty more where she came from.

As all of this distressing evidence poured in, I started looking for answers. I wasn’t certain of what I might find, but I was certain of this: Turning the other cheek wasn’t the answer. Nor was sitting around feeling sorry for ourselves, as if we were the minions in a market-run dictatorship that could do with us (and our money) as it wished.

Taking Back Your Financial Life

The conclusion I came to was this: It’s time to take back our lives. And in order to do that we need to take back our money. Not just the manner in which we manage it by learning, once again, to live within our means, however modest or expansive those means happen to be. We need to regain our financial power if we feel we’ve ceded it. Or to grab hold of that power, even if we’ve never paid much attention before. And we need to do it in a way that will allow us to feel good—not compromised, not guilty, not second- rate—but good, happy, smart, and confident about our choices.

But how? If you’ve watched me on television or read my columns, you know I’m all about the tactical and practical. I look for real solutions to all sorts of money problems, and then I want to see data that prove to me that the solutions work.

Where money and happiness were concerned, useful data didn’t exist. There was a bounty of research showing that, indeed, money wasn’t the key to lifetime happiness (although it did have a role to play). But when I started looking for lists of behaviors and habits, things you could actually alter in your lives that would positively impact your relationship with money, I found nothing.

So I went looking for those answers myself. At the end of 2002, with the help and support of Money magazine, extensive proprietary research was conducted for this book by RoperASW. The goal was to figure out, first, what influence money has over an individual’s overall happiness; second, what habits, attitudes, behaviors, and knowledge separate those people who are satisfied with their financial lives from those who are not; and third, what effect changing those habits, attitudes, behaviors, and knowledge might have on a person’s life.

The results were staggering. Of course, money plays a role in the happiness equation. To try to deny that link would be disingenuous, not to mention unbelievable. But it’s not as strong a link—as big a contributing factor—in your happiness as you might think. Moreover, money can be a bigger cause of unhappiness than many other factors in your life. Let me say that again. Even when it’s working in your favor, money can’t make you completely happy. But it can—without a doubt—make you miserable.

Our study examined nine factors that contribute to a person’s general happiness: things like a marriage or other important personal relationship, good friends, children, job, and lifestyle. Of all of these, money, it turns out, is the biggest contributing factor to a person’s unhappiness. It is the factor we worry most about—the one we feel is furthest from our control.

Then we dug deeper. We delved into the lives of people for whom money was not a roadblock to happiness. These were people who said they felt in control of their money, who didn’t spend nights staring at the ceiling worrying about it. And we were able to isolate their habits, attitudes, and behaviors.

The links between those people—the habits, attitudes, and behaviors that separate them from those who are unhappy—form the basis of an astounding new way to manage your money. Follow the prescription, adopt the habits, by which these people live and it will lead you directly to a happier life. You will reduce money-related stress. You will start making financial decisions that truly make you happy—and that aren’t based on someone else’s definition of satisfaction.

And I have the research to prove: It’s not about how much you have. You don’t have to be a Rockefeller. You don’t even have to be rich. That’s right. Whether you pull in $50,000 a year or $500,000 a year, you have the same shot at achieving this sort of financial satisfaction.

In fact, adopting these habits, my research shows, is worth an extra $25,000 a year. Picture this. You have two American families. The first earns less than $50,000 a year but is in control of their money. They’re not anal with a capital A, but they’ve adopted a handful of the good habits I’ll outline for you in the pages that follow. The second family earns at least 50 percent more—upward of $75,000 a year—but they’re less in control. They’re not financial fiascoes across the board, but they’ve picked up a couple of not-so-good habits.

Who’s happier with their finances? Neither one. Roughly six out of ten families like the first will say they’re financially happy. Roughly six out of ten families like the second will say they’re financially happy. Good money management—taking ownership of your money rather than letting it ride roughshod over you—makes the difference.

In other words, adopting good money management habits rather than poor ones is like earning another $25,000 a year.

What are you waiting for?

Money and Happiness Evaluation: Part 1
While you are reading this book, you will have an opportunity to ask yourself a series of questions that will help you to better understand how you handle money. In order to get the most out of taking the survey—the same survey used in the new research conducted for this book—you will need to know how to score your own answers. For some questions it will be obvious, since the answers are simple words such as agree “a lot” or “sometimes.” However, for other questions the possible answers are numbered from 1 to 7, where 1 stands for “not important at all” and 7 stands for “very important.” When you score your own answers on these number scales, an answer of 5, 6, or 7 is agreement that something is important. An answer of 1, 2, or 3 is disagreement, that is, saying that something is unimportant. Answering 4, in the middle of the scale, means something is neither important nor unimportant. That’s the way the analysis of people’s responses on these number scales was handled for discussion in the book. You should score your own answers this way too, so you can both compare yourself to other people and learn about your own money mindset.

1. Thinking about all aspects of your life, in general, how happy are you these days? (Circle one letter.)
a. Very happy
b. Somewhat happy
c. Not too happy
d. Not at all happy
e. Don’t know

2. On the whole, how happy are you with the following aspects of your life? (Check one box for each.)
VERY SOMEWHAT NOT TOO NOT AT DON’T KNOW
HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY ALL HAPPY OR N/A
a. Your job q q q q q
very somewhat not too not at don’t know
happy happy happy all happy or n/a
b. Your marriage/ q q q q q
serious personal
relationship
c. Your health q q q q q
d. Your friendships q q q q q
e. Your appearance/ q q q q q
weight
f. Your self-esteem q q q q q
g. Your financial q q q q q
situation
h. Your children q q q q q
i. Your lifestyle q q q q q
(standard of living)

3. How often, if at all, do you worry about the following? (Check one box for each.)

A LOT SOMETIMES NOT TOO NOT AT DON’T KNOW
a. Your job q q q q q
b. Your marriage/ q q q q q
serious personal
relationship
c. Your health q q q q q
d. Your friendships q q q q q
e. Your appearance/ q q q q q
weight
f. Your self-esteem q q q q q
g. Your financial q q q q q
situation
h. Your children q q q q q
i. Your lifestyle q q q q q
(standard of living)

4. How often, if at all, do you feel in control of the following? (Check one box for each.)
A LOT SOMETIMES NOT TOO NOT AT DON’T KNOW
a. Your job q q q q q
b. Your marriage/ q q q q q
serious personal
relationship
c. Your health q q q q q
d. Your friendships q q q q q
e. Your appearance/ q q q q q
weight
f. Your self-esteem q q q q q
g. Your financial q q q q q
situation
h. Your children q q q q q
A LOT SOMETIMES NOT TOO NOT AT DON’T KNOW
i. Your lifestyle/ q q q q q
standard of living

5. In the past 30 days, about how often did you feel each of the following? (Check one box for each.)
a lot sometimes not too not at don’t
a. Restless q q q q q
b. Useful q q q q q
c. Stressed q q q q q
d. Content q q q q q
e. Hopeless q q q q q
f. Confident q q q q q

1. Sophie Tucker Was Wrong
I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. Believe me, honey, rich is better.
—Sophie Tucker

No disrespect intended to the Last of the Red Hot Mamas. Not only was Sophie Tucker (who also wrote a song called “I’m Living Alone and I Like It”) a brilliant vaudevillian, she was an independent woman ahead of her time. But when she made this whopper of a statement, she was off her game.

Being rich doesn’t guarantee your happiness. Being poor doesn’t rob you of it.

Want proof? Meet Nancy and Lloyd. They’re a two-career couple living outside Chicago. They have two beautiful daughters, live in a cozy house in a nicely wooded suburb, and, like many of us, pursued ’90s style living with a vengeance.

Nancy spent two decades building up her corporate résumé—and her salary. By the late ’90s, as an investment banker and money manager, she was bringing in a decent six figures. As a consultant with a major accounting firm, Lloyd was doing the same. They took two vacations a year to fabulous places like Puerto Rico and Belize, had a sizable cushion in cash and stocks, no credit card debt, and knew that when college for their two girls rolled around, paying for it wouldn’t be a problem.

In fact, they were so comfortable—so secure—that in late 1999, Nancy decided to quit banking and start her own business. She had developed a product, an educational toy, that she felt passionate about, and she wanted to see if she could make a go of it. Lloyd was as supportive as you could ask a spouse to be. They sat down together, ran the numbers, and figured that if she just broke even, they could more than manage on the salary he was earning. Even if she lost a little money, they’d be okay. Their portfolio was fat enough to get them through. Do it, Lloyd encouraged.

Their ambitions were right on target. But their timing couldn’t have been worse. Just as Nancy geared up, the market shut down. She was ready to deal with a bit of a roller coaster, but not primed for companies slashing their budgets and having little to spend on an unproven product like hers. By the time 2001 rolled around, the market had decimated their fat portfolio. Then Lloyd lost his job. And when, more than a year later, he was still unable to find a new one, he settled in to work with Nancy in her business.

So how are they doing? In fact, they’re doing pretty well. Much better than you’d probably imagine. For the first time in years, Nancy says, they both feel fulfilled by the work they’re doing. They’re spending more—and better, more satisfying—time with the kids. Their marriage is stronger than it’s been in years because they’re communicating more honestly.

All of which is not to say that making the transition to live on less hasn’t been a bit of an adjustment. Nancy had little trouble cutting out vacations and dinners out for her and Lloyd. But when it came to weighing extras for their daughters—things like the Irish dance lessons that are the highlight of their week, but that run $1,200 a year—it was a hard call.

The surprising reward is that Nancy and Lloyd feel more in control of their spending than ever before. Things last longer. Fewer things are wasted. “When you have a big paycheck coming in every two or three weeks, very few people can tell you what they’re spending. They figure, if they go a little over, it’s okay because they have a paycheck coming in. That’s how we were. But now, every transaction is well thought out. They’re all pure,” Nancy says. What’s more important, she and Lloyd are “at peace” on issues they weren’t able to confront before—things like the importance of family, of friends, of feeling fulfilled by your work. “We’re happier,” she says.

It makes her wonder, “Do you have to be rich to be happy? I don’t think so.” Nancy shrugs. “I certainly haven’t felt rich the last couple of years, and yet I’ve had more great moments in the last few years than I had in the previous twenty. Maybe it wasn’t supposed to happen to me until I was old enough, experienced enough, to actually get it.”

What We Know for Sure

It’s an interesting—and tough—series of questions: Do you have to be rich to be happy? Would being richer make you happier? Does money buy happiness?

If you’re like most people, you came up with some very strong gut answers.

You either thought, Of course I’d be happier if I was richer. If someone handed me $10,000 on a street corner, I’d be delighted. Wouldn’t you?

Or you thought, Don’t be ridiculous. I have a spouse (significant other) and kids I love. I have a challenging job that I really enjoy. I have great friends. Money can’t buy any of these things.

In both cases, you’d be right. And you’d be wrong. Why? Because, it turns out, these are not simple yes or no questions. Rather, they are very complicated issues that some of the world’s top economists, sociologists, and psychologists have spent decades studying. They’ve debated, tested, researched, butted heads, written papers, gotten those papers published, stomached the feedback, and started all over again.

And at the end of the day, this is what we know for sure: Money can’t buy the sort of happiness you and I are looking for.

To persons in a developing country, a little extra money absolutely can bring happiness. An extra $100 or $1,000 means they can eat every day. It means they can afford a warm place to sleep or an electric fan to drive off the heat. Money brings a huge happiness boost in these circumstances because it can provide basic comforts. Existing without these comforts means living with great discomfort, and that leads to unhappiness.

But in wealthier, developed countries like the United States, that extra $100 or $1,000—even $10,000—isn’t going to vastly improve your life. Maybe it will buy you that new pair of shoes you saw in the window at Bloomingdale’s. Maybe it will cover a plane ticket to somewhere warmer and sunnier than you happen to be right this minute. It might put a short-lived smile on your face. But will it buy you lasting happiness? Not a chance.

Once you’ve achieved life’s basic comforts and necessities, more money doesn’t necessarily buy more happiness. In part that’s because we make poor choices about how to spend that extra $100 or $1,000. All too often, we spend $5 here and $10 there rather than do something significant or meaningful with it. But happiness is also a product of things that can’t be bought. To people who live in the sort of places where electric fans long ago gave way to air conditioners, happiness is what your husband or wife said to you this morning. It’s how you’re getting along with your children. It’s the pat on the back you get on the job.

Which is why on a national level, it’s not surprising that the average happiness of people in the United States hasn’t grown over the years, despite the fact that our cumulative wealth has shot up since World War II. The same has been proved in Great Britain. In fact, there’s been shown to be very little relationship between income and happiness among most of the world’s well-off countries.

Consider: Americans are twice as likely today to own cars, clothes dryers, and air conditioners as we were in the 1960s. In the ’70s the average house was 1,700 square feet with three bedrooms and one-and-a- half baths. Today our average home is more than 3,200 square feet. We have islands in the kitchen, televisions the size of small cars, and master bedroom suites you could land a plane in. Yet the divorce rate has doubled and teen suicide is on the rise.

But that doesn’t mean money has no role at all in determining your happiness. It does.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Introduction 1

1. Sophie Tucker Was Wrong. 12
Why being rich is not necessarily better.
2. Enough Is Enough. 34
Wanting breeds...more wanting. And it can be toxic. How to learn to be happy with what you have.
3. Feng Shui Finance. 58
If you’re in control of your money, you’re in control of your life. Here are the keys to control.
4. What Do You Really Want? 81
Setting financial goals that are meaningful for your life.
5. Making It Happen. 108
How to turn those goals into your reality.
6. Living Within Your Means. 129
It’s impossible to save much—if anything—until you stop spending more than you make. Here’s how.
7. Go with the “Flow.” 157
On-the-job happiness is an important piece of lifetime happiness. You can find it if you know where to look.
8. It’s Not Just About the Money. 179
Taking the proper precautions for your family and loved ones makes you feel happier and more content. So does volunteering.
9. Don’t Dictate, Communicate. 207
When does money breed the most unhappiness?
When you’re fighting about it. If you can learn to communicate—with your spouse, your kids, your parents— you can stop squabbling.

10. The Ten Commandments of Financial Happiness. 226
Living by four—just four—of these commandments can be like earning an extra 50 percent a year.

Index 235
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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2003

    A timely book!

    Jean Chatzky has written a very timely and powerful book on personal finance. While many books merely regurgitate popular dogma, 'You Don't have to Be Rich' overs a fresh perspective to personal finance. <p><p> This book is somewhat like 'The Millionaire Next Door' except that it discusses what the happiest people in America have in common when it comes to managing their money, and what the rest of us can learn from them. For instance, they have distinctly different habits and behaviors about things you might consider minor, such as how often to pay your bills, and what you will do with your bank statement when it arrives in the mail. <p><p> 'You Don't have To Be Rich' offers clear cut strategies to take control of your money. 'It's time to take back our lives', says Chatzky 'and in order to do that we need to take back our money.' <p><p> Chatzky also offers a series of questionaires which will enable you to take a good hard look at your money habits and make necessary corrections. <p><p> Overall this is an excellent book and worthy of five stars. For even more in depth information, I recommend 'Talking Money' also by Chatzky. These books will get you on the road to financial freedom.

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