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Going Broke: Why Americans Can't Hold On To Their Money Hardcover – January 29, 2008

4.6 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review


"In this lucidly-written and very timely book, Vyse has brought recent empirical research by psychologists and economists to bear on the question of why so many people are currently getting themselves into unmanageable debt. Vyse makes astute suggestions as to what we can do individually and collectively to reverse this frightening situation. I highly recommend the book to anyone who is currently in such straits or who is in danger of getting into them -- and, as Vyse makes clear, that could be any of us." -Howard Rachlin, PhD, Psychology Department, SUNY Stony Brook


About the Author


Stuart Vyse is Professor of Psychology at Connecticut College, in New London. He is the author of Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition, which won the prestigious William James Book Award in 1999.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (January 29, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195306996
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195306996
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1 x 6.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #247,289 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
There are many things this book does well. (In fact, everything this book does, it does well.) First, and most remarkably, it tells stories. Not only is the author brave enough to reveal his own financial foibles, he includes interviews with individuals who have suffered financial ruin and lived to tell the tale. The stories are striking in their variety and poignancy, and they are made all the more salient by Vyse's beautifully written prose. The author paints a clear picture of his subjects' various crises, so that each story--no matter how different it may be from our own--has a sense of familiarity. We understand that these are fellow Americans who for the most part have worked hard and played by the rules, and we can't help recognizing their humanity and vulnerability as our own.

Moving beyond the stories that open each chapter, Vyse looks not only at the internal, "psychological" processes associated with financial difficulty--such as the seemingly inexplicable tendency to overpay for items on eBay--but he also uses a broad lens to examine the social and political forces that conspire against our best efforts to stay ahead in the financial game. Rather than simply attributing the bankruptcy epidemic to "shopaholism" or endemic self-indulgence (as many others blithely do), Vyse weaves together hard science, cultural criticism, and macroeconomic analysis to create a disturbing image of our personal--and national--economic landscape.

Finally, the majority of Vyse's suggestions for not going broke are practical, common-sense solutions that almost every American can employ. But even in presenting his suggestions, Vyse acknowledges that there are larger forces which need to be addressed before a majority of Americans can enjoy financial security.
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Format: Hardcover
I completely agree with the reviewer above. I found Vyse's sociological take on Americans and spending fascinating. He poses the same questions to his readers that he has posed to his university students and I found that my kids (teenagers) were interested in these questions and that they encouraged conversation. It was playful and energizing to take a look at the irrational ways that we relate to money and spending, and to choose ways to "trick" ourselves into spending less, rather than simply berating ourselves. An example of irrationality is the concept of "sunk" money. If we've already spent money on something, and we consider that money "sunk" or gone, we don't have as much motivation to recoup that money than we would have to "make" that much money. This helped me force myself go through the irritating process of trying to recover money from a travel insurance company when my son was too ill to go on a class trip to Costa Rica. I had already paid for the trip, so my motivation was lacking. When I posed the question to myself "would you spend an entire day dealing with an insurance company for $2500?" I decided that it WAS worth the aggravation of dealing with the paperwork.
I also appreciated Vyse's compassion toward modern Americans and the trouble he took to detail the kinds of necessary expenses that our parents did not have. For just one example, he points out that there are thousands of medications that did not exist in 1970. Even with good insurance, these medications can cost hundreds of dollars a month.
If you enjoy reading about money, this book is very different from all of the other cookie-cutter money books out there.
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Format: Hardcover
Going Broke is a excellent book on why Americans cannot hold on to their money and stay out of debt. Author Stuart Vyse does a good job of explaining why 1) Americans are bankrupt due to over extending themselves.2)Instant gratification has replaced delaying the need of things.3)How modern inventions such as computers and credit cards have made the availability of buying things quicker and more convenient.4)How advertising influences us on a daily bases from tv to movies, to cell phones to junk mail.5)How society's view of needs are really more of wants and luxuries. The final chapter offers some help for those trapped in debt and addiction of spending. At the end of each chapter are real life examples of people caught in this deadlly trap.[[ASIN:0684859386 Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes And How To Correct Them: Lessons From The New Science Of Behavioral Economics] is another good book on this subject. Well done.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Interesting analysis of how business has made it easier for Americans to part with their money. Written in an easy-to-read style, with real-people examples of how personal finance can go wrong. An interesting read.
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Format: Hardcover
Vyse takes you on a journey through the history of American personal finance. From anecdotes about our grandparents' shopping trips to detailed bankruptcy stats; the first five chapters will educate, entertain, and prompt you to rethink your shopping habits. From there, it goes downhill a bit. By the end of the book, you'll notice that the author has no idea how to fix any of the problems he has highlighted. His advice includes commitment strategies (like cutting up credit cards) and social "safety nets" (read: welfare), as well as some truly absurd suggestions like switching to dial-up internet access to prevent online shopping sprees. Some suggestions contradict each other, and there is no cohesive plan to be found. If you're curious about how Americans have destroyed their savings while loading up on debt, you'll enjoy this book. If you want solutions, you should read something from Ramit Sethi or Dave Ramsey.
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