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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and Thought-Provoking
In her latest book, All the Money in the World: What the Happiest People Know About Getting and Spending, Laura Vanderkam (who also wrote 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think) helps readers to be deliberate and thoughtful about the question of money, challenging widely accepted ideas about it, and offering suggestions for how to better get and use it.

A...
Published on March 14, 2012 by Catherine

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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing thoughts on how happiness can indeed be bought
What would you do if you had all the money in the world - not literally, but all you wanted - what would you change about your life? Laura Vanderkam is contemplating getting, spending, and sharing money in her book All The Money In The World - the main premise being that you can buy happiness!
Sharing her own experiences and those of people who one day decided they'd...
Published on March 13, 2012 by BLehner


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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and Thought-Provoking, March 14, 2012
This review is from: All the Money in the World: What the Happiest People Know About Getting and Spending (Hardcover)
In her latest book, All the Money in the World: What the Happiest People Know About Getting and Spending, Laura Vanderkam (who also wrote 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think) helps readers to be deliberate and thoughtful about the question of money, challenging widely accepted ideas about it, and offering suggestions for how to better get and use it.

A lot of personal finance books offer advice on how to set up a budget, cut your latte factor, or get out of debt, but I'd argue that reading All the Money in the World would be a better investment of your time because of how it will challenge you to really think through your assumptions and beliefs about how you get, spend, and give money. Vanderkam points out that money is a tool to help you live your life, so thinking about money and finances is really about thinking through what kind of life you want to lead, what you want to do, and what you want to achieve.

Vanderkam exposes quite a few common assumptions about money, and provides research and suggestions for why you might want to reconsider things like:

-Spending a fortune on an engagement ring and big wedding versus spending that amount over the course of your life to invest in your marriage (since happiness is more about frequency than intensity),
-How much you really need a lawn (since so few people love to take care of one and they are so expensive to maintain),
-Whether or not you can really expect to retire (and why you might want to just get a job you love instead),
-How many kids you can afford (and what "afford" means when it comes to a family),
-Aspiring to a big house (when that means more housework and yard work, tasks which most people don't enjoy).

Most interesting to me was the section where Vanderkam challenges conventional wisdom about cutting back expenses to save money. She points out that most households spend 10% of their budgets on food and clothing, but 40-50% of the budget on housing and cars. Sure, you can cut coupons and hit sales, but you might be better off keeping your housing costs lower or rethinking your vehicle situation. She admits that the grocery and clothing cuts are easier to make immediately, but the way she discusses home and travel expenses is nuanced enough to be helpful even to families who already feel like they have those categories at bare bones level.

I got a lot out of the section in the book about giving. Vanderkam discusses why being generous and helping others is a good way to spend money and points out several examples and suggestions for how you can be a "microphilanthropist" even if you don't have a lot of money to spare. She advocates being involved and connected to causes you support, which I agree is critical, and lists resources for building that engagement.

Another great section discussed the hedonic treadmill (how something can feel so awesome when you haven't been able to afford it before, but quickly becomes old hat) and how to combat it, including how to teach your children to appreciate their blessings without becoming entitled or misunderstanding the connection between work and money. We've been talking in our family lately about how to handle allowances, so I appreciated the research Vanderkam highlighted.

The book ends with a series of exercises designed to help you think through the topics presented in the book. These include the big picture, getting, spending, and sharing. I can see how this would be a fabulous book to go through with a book club or to read with a friend or your spouse, because the questions lend themselves to a lot of reflection and discussion.

What I love about this book is that it's not a how-to book for austerity or a one-size-fits-all prescription for achieving some particular level of financial status. Rather, it's an empowering book about understanding your own life and your own priorities and goals, and how you can use money to live a better, happier, more fulfilling life. Understanding this is so critical, no matter what your situation or aspirations. Having money won't make you happy, but using money to achieve your purpose will.

I found All the Money in the World tremendously helpful and would highly recommend it, whether for personal reading or in a group setting.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worthy Work, March 12, 2012
This review is from: All the Money in the World: What the Happiest People Know About Getting and Spending (Hardcover)
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 her 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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19 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful and Interesting, February 23, 2012
By 
Book Fanatic (Houston, TX, United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: All the Money in the World: What the Happiest People Know About Getting and Spending (Hardcover)
This is an interesting book. I'm going to say that I think the subtitle misleads as to the contents. "What the Happiest People Know About Getting and Spending" really should be "What Laura Vanderkam and Online Crowds Think about Getting and Spending". The book is not rigorous science research about happiness but the speculations, experience, and reasonable conjecture of the author and others. However, neither of those really take away from the value of the book as long as you take it for what it actually is. It's not a great book but it is worth a read if the subject of money and happiness interest you; I assume that's most people in 21st Century America anyway.

The book got me thinking about the value of money in my own life and how I might use it for the tool it is in a better way. I think it will do the same for most people and in that respect it succeeds. Vanderkam has some useful insights and some different ways of thinking about money than most people and I recommend you give them some consideration.

The book is broken into three main parts Getting, Spending, and Sharing. The table of contents follows:

INTRODUCTION You Have More Money Than You Think
CHAPTER 1 What Else Could That Ring Buy?

GETTING
CHAPTER 2 Don't Scrimp More, Make More
CHAPTER 3 Rethink Retirement

SPENDING
CHAPTER 4 Laughing at the Joneses
CHAPTER 5 The Best Weekend Ever
CHAPTER 6 The Marginal Cost of Children
CHAPTER 7 The Chicken Mystique

SHARING
CHAPTER 8 The Selfish Joy of Giving
CHAPTER 9 Another Way to Invest

ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD
CHAPTER 10 Ode to a Ziploc Bag

THE HOW TO BUY HAPPINESS HANDBOOK
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing thoughts on how happiness can indeed be bought, March 13, 2012
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This review is from: All the Money in the World: What the Happiest People Know About Getting and Spending (Hardcover)
What would you do if you had all the money in the world - not literally, but all you wanted - what would you change about your life? Laura Vanderkam is contemplating getting, spending, and sharing money in her book All The Money In The World - the main premise being that you can buy happiness!
Sharing her own experiences and those of people who one day decided they'd rather spend their money on this instead of that, the book will not advise you on how to safe money, but instead encourage you to reconsider just how to spend it to make your life happier. Admittedly I liked the underlying idea from the start. If I had the choice I'd rather travel the world for the money a diamond ring would cost, and I'm sure my adventures would make me happier than that ring could.
Smoothly and quite entertainingly written the book luckily does not read as if it came straight from the self-help section of a bookstore. On the downside, there's also a lot of statistics and fluff which I ended up finding a bit distracting. Vanderkamp is often rambling on and already half way through I got the feeling that an essay would have been sufficient to communicate the essence of the whole book. Still, don't let this discourage you, because the intriguing idea presented here is definitely worth exploring!
In short: How would you spend money to take a step towards a happier life?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the NetGalley book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent for the right reader, June 8, 2012
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Full of good ideas and fascinating statistics; well-researched and engagingly written. The central idea is that we are constantly setting priorities and making choices about how we spend our money, and we should do so deliberately and with foresight. The exercises at the end are intriguing and probably useful for all. I realized about halfway through that this book wasn't really written for me; however, if you are a youngish single person or a person raising a family, this book will offer many benefits.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fresh Take on Finances and Time, March 13, 2012
By 
Carrie G. Koens (Elizabethton, TN United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: All the Money in the World: What the Happiest People Know About Getting and Spending (Hardcover)
Vanderkam has hit it out of the park with "All the Money in the World" - or at least it rang true for me. Rather than turning the focus on what percentage of our income should be spent in a certain way, or clipping more coupons to buy stuff you don't need or use, she turns the focus on how using our money wisely might include splurging on areas that others might find, well - odd. Vanderkam points out that while someone might save $30 by using coupons, it's quite possible that their time might be more valuable than the savings that the coupons created.

"All the Money in the World" rang true for me because we have spent hours looking at where we can cut corners and save a little more, but in the end, the quickest and fastest way for us to reach our goals was by doing what it takes to EARN more. That meant me getting a job and more hours for my husband at work. I love that Vanderkam doesn't shy away from pointing out the roads less traveled, including splurging, giving, finding causes that aren't just worthy, but give you that happiness factor, as well as pushing the reader to discover work that they love rather than simply building up a 401(k) for a purposeless retirement.

If you're tired of the regular financial self-help books, then I would highly recommend trying "All the Money in the World" and gaining a new perspective on the handling of money and how to view it all a little bit differently. Kudos to Ms. Vanderkam!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A whole new way of thinking about money, May 9, 2012
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Laura Vanderkam is a master at helping people realize they have more than they think. Her last book, 168 Hours, did it for time. And now ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD does it for money. It's impossible to read this book and not rethink your relationship with money. I read it quickly, focusing on areas that speak to where I am in my life right now. But I have a feeling this will be one of those books that I turn to at different stages when I need a reminder of the ways that habits around money can affect mental well-being.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I Liked It, December 17, 2012
By 
Kathy Edens (Springfield, IL) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: All the Money in the World: What the Happiest People Know About Getting and Spending (Hardcover)
This book is not what one might expect based on the title. It is not about people who are excessively wealthy. Instead, it is about how people choose to spend their money in ways that make them happy. I particularly related to the chapter about big weddings. I've always thought that it was senseless to spend thousands and thousands on a big wedding only to go home to a one bedroom cramped apartment. I felt validated since my husband and I spent less than $100 on our wedding 35 years ago. We purchased our first house 2 weeks later and have never regretted the decision. Vanderkam enumerates things that ould be purchased with the money spent on one day....weekly housekeeping service, eating out weekly etc. I always think about how many phone bills something will pay for, or how much the balance in our retirement fund would increase. I fear I'm way too practical. My only complaint about the book is the frequency with which the author violates her own "rules" i.e. buying a bigger house in the chapter where she preaches smaller is quite sufficient. Beyond that, some of the suggestions are obvious to me but perhaps not to someone whith a different mind set regarding spending money. Overall, an easy read that kept my interest.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightfully Thought-Provoking, February 23, 2012
This review is from: All the Money in the World: What the Happiest People Know About Getting and Spending (Hardcover)
Laura Vanderkam has done it again. It is impossible to read ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD and not come away with fresh insights that will make you change the way you think about - and spend - your money. As with her previous book, 168 Hours, Laura uses her laser sharp intellect to highlight root causes and unintended consequences of our everyday actions... in a kind and gentle way. If you feel at all unhappy with the current role money plays in your life, you'll want to invest in buying and reading a copy of this delightful book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read & lots of good suggestions, June 5, 2013
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This review is from: All the Money in the World: What the Happiest People Know About Getting and Spending (Hardcover)
I really liked the book! While there was nothing revolutionary in it, it does encourage you to think about your own priorities. There are a lot of suggestions for you to consider how and where you may want to spend your money, but it's not written in a "preachy" or "this is the only right way" to do it.

I would recommend it highly.
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All the Money in the World: What the Happiest People Know About Getting and Spending
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