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.Read more...
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- More About All the Money in the World by Laura VanderkamOverview
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.
Publishers Weekly Reviews
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2011-11-28
- Reviewer: Staff
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.)BookPage Reviews
Money isn't everything, but it is something
When Pablo Picasso said, “I’d like to live as a poor man with lots of money,” many people probably wrote the statement off as a bit of verbal cubism and forgot it. Author Laura Vanderkam (168 Hours) found wisdom there, and in All the Money in the World she explores how much is enough, and how to derive more joy from what we have by using it wisely. Underlying her look at family size, wedding expenses, backyard chicken ranching and other costly endeavors is the knowledge that while none of us will ever have all the money in the world, many of us have more than we need and don’t realize it.
On some level, All the Money in the World is less about money than about using it as a way to clarify one’s priorities. Vanderkam points out that the $5,000 most couples spend on engagement and wedding rings is great if you’re all about the bling, but spend $300 on something less flashy and you can fund a lot of nights out, day trips, bouquets, et cetera, to enrich your relationship over time. One isn’t a better choice than the other; the point is that it is a choice, not a lock-step march to the altar with specific accessories.
Vanderkam also plays with the notion of family size, exploring data that suggest once you have one child (and a home and a minivan), the cost per child to add to your family drops considerably, and continues to do so with each additional child. Again, that’s not an inducement to rush out and produce a litter, but the freedom to consider a larger family (which will nevertheless demand sacrifices) if it’s what you want.
All of these ideas are held to the light at multiple angles, and while money is often a source of stress and concern, it becomes something fun to toy with here. That’s helpful, because one of the twists one encounters as income increases is a reduction in pleasure when material goods are easier to come by: the so-called hedonic treadmill effect. Getting back to the ability to enjoy them with a sense of abundance and appreciation is at the heart of what Picasso was talking about, and there are numerous tips and a final section dedicated to helping readers explore how to do just that. If you want to earn more, or simply enjoy what you already have, All the Money in the World is a great launch pad.