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Green with Envy: A Whole New Way to Look at Financial (Un)Happiness Hardcover – Bargain Price, May 9, 2006

33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Freelance journalist Boss performs a real service by putting some of America's financial hangups on trial, charging that "the money taboo"—our good-manners reluctance to discuss what we earn and spend—is "destructive nonsense" that leads to debt and despair. Boss argues that envy ("the only vice warned against in both the Ten Commandments and the Seven Deadly Sins") can be good for the economy, but our drive to keep up with our neighbors can be unhealthy. In five case studies, she shows the consequences of maintaining appearances when we can't afford it; the highlight is a chapter in which Boss lives a fantasy by interrogating her seemingly well-off next-door neighbors and getting the real scoop on their savings, income and credit card bills. The scope of the author's reporting is a bit limited—except for one billionaire, her subjects aren't especially socioeconomically diverse—and we never learn whether non-U.S. cultures suffer the same pangs of envy. Worse, her soft concluding chapter tacks toward self-help, offering counsel that's surprisingly platitudinous ("The universe will provide"). Even so, Boss's case for candor is valuable. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"It's rare to encounter such honesty about the endless financial comparisons people make...refreshingly juicy... a compelling read." -- --USA Today

"A much-needed reality check...a must-read for those trying to achieve true wealth." -- --Black Enterprise

"Boss performs a real service by putting some of America's financial hang-ups on trial...Her case for candor is valuable." -- --Publishers Weekly

"Finally--an entertaining book about money." -- --King Features Syndicate

"Voyeuristic...nicely backed up with a slew of eye-opening facts." -- --Charlotte Observer --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Business Plus (May 9, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446578355
  • ASIN: B005Q8PTD4
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,678,151 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Working on GREEN WITH ENVY was a dream. As a journalist, I've always been paid to ask people questions. This time, I had the job of really prying. What fun - and all for a very good cause.

GREEN WITH ENVY gripped me like no other project ever has. (And that's how a book should be.) As I worked on it, I became obsessed. Each chapter grew into my favorite. My husband, the only person besides the sources whom I had time to talk to, asked if there was anything we could talk about other than The Book. (There actually wasn't.)

The official stuff: I grew up in Flint, Michigan, a gritty but wonderful place to grow up. I studied economics and political science undergrad at Columbia University, and went back there for master's degrees in journalism and in international affairs. In between, I've lived and worked in Saint Petersburg, Russia (where I edited the cultural section of the main English-language newspaper), in Paris (the only time in my life I've tried writing fiction), and in the Middle East (where I got to live the low-paid but high-adventure life of a foreign correspondent).

As an independent journalist over the past 12 years, I've contributed regularly to The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, Crain's New York Business, Forbes.com, Good Housekeeping and "Marketplace" on national public radio. Samples of my work are available at www.shiraboss.com/articles.htm.

What else... well, there's always more. That's certainly one thing you'll learn by reading GREEN WITH ENVY.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Mark Danaher on May 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover
First and foremost, i loved the first and second chapters about the author's perception of her neighbors and what the reality turned out to be. This book is hilarious, a page turner and also pretty scary at times as I can relate to the slippery slope of charging more than i need to.

It's not your typical 9-steps to riches book, it's much deeper than that. I've read many personal finance books, but never came across one that really deals with the pyschological aspects of things. And that's actually where most of us need help and the book offers a very philosophical approach in the last chapter.

Absolutely recommended.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Kendra Crook on June 23, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This was a surprising page turner for me, because I NEVER read books like this....I don't even slow down by the personal finance section of Barnes & Noble. I decided to read it because I felt like I was seeing mention of it everywhere - CNN, NPR and USA Today. Figured if it was getting this much press, it was probably worth a try....and I was right.

I enjoyed it so much that I bought a copy for my parents, my in-laws and several accountant friends. And they have all enjoyed it....and for different reasons, my parents and in-laws liked the personal stories (the confessions of other people's dirty financial secrets) and my accountant friends liked Boss' mental approach to other people's money in the conclusion.

I plan on continuing to give copies as gifts - great for recent college graduates, newlyweds, etc.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By K. Parsons on May 8, 2006
Format: Hardcover
While it's true that there is not a great deal of "new" information in this book-that's largely true of most books on money. There is only so much money information to dispense and there are many, many books on money out there. Green with Envy gives a new and interesting spin on that information. It is also fun and--I'll admit it--a little gossipy. It was particularly interesting to read about the money woes of our members of congress. Many people, myself included, read books on money not so much for information, but for incentive to keep saving, and the encouragement of knowing that we're doing pretty well compared to, well, the Joneses.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Armchair Interviews on June 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
From mini-vans to 500-foot yachts, Americans are obsessed with keeping up with the Joneses.

Starting with her next-door neighbor and traveling all the way to the nation's capital, author Shira Boss explores why Americans are no longer saving, how credit cards have become the replacement for the "emergency fund," and where we are headed from here.

Green with Envy: Why Keeping Up with the Joneses is Keeping Us in Debt is not your typical book on personal finance. Boss's perfect mix of real-life stories and statistical facts offers a shocking, entirely new and life-altering perspective on how and why we are consistently living beyond our means--a book too fascinating to put down.

For anyone who has ever wondered how their sister/neighbor/friend could afford that house/car/vacation, this book is a MUST READ.

Armchair Interviews says: You'll never look at Paris Hilton the same way again.
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18 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Roger H. Geyer on May 8, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
By interviewing some folks about their intimate monetary foibles / decisions, and sharing some of her feelings on the subject, Shira offers some insight into how many Americans are digging themselves ever-deeper into debt.

On the positive side, I think her observation that many folks are likely completely deluding themselves about the enormity of their debt problem, by only focusing on the minimum payments is likely correct. Her observation that such self-delusion leads to economic disaster if carried to extremes is unsurprising.

Positive also, was her input from various sources that it is so "taboo" to discuss money matters in this country, that folks all too often fail to seek help (i.e. advice), even when the problem is clearly reaching crisis proportions. Apparently this fits with the commonly cited feeling people have of being "alone" in their financial mess.

On the negative side, there's not much new here. The idea that psychology is a key part of modern economic thought is certainly not new, and several books detail such findings with the type of empirical measurements that give such subjects meaningful context. Also the litany of negative psychological impacts that such thinking is clearly having on the folks Shira interviews (but aren't actually named), such as the hedonic treadmill, are well known and documented.

She tends to use words like "we all" have such tendencies or traits more than I'm comfortable with. Stating that many or most or nearly all would be far more credible.

As stated in one of the editorial reviews, the solutions seem to be little more than new-age platitudes, at best.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dee Jay on June 8, 2007
Format: Paperback
I REALLY liked this non-fiction book - one of the best "how to's" I've read in a looooong time. I found myself laughing and also compelled to keep reading. I felt a bit like a voyeur learning about other REAL people and their difficulties keeping within a budget. I'm buying another copy for my kids in the east - even want my 14 year old granddaughter to read it, getting her off on the right foot. And I'm insisting that my California kids read it too. With the right mindset about "wants" and "needs" people can be a lot happier with what they have. It's all about seeing the cup half full or half empty... and unfortunately too many young families see the cup as completely empty. What children need today from their parents is TIME, not things.

This book is a must for all young couples BEFORE they get married.
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