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Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending Paperback – May 20, 2014
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"If you think money doesn't buy happiness, then you're just not spending it right. In this lively and engaging book, Dunn and Norton use the latest scientific research to show how you can get a bigger emotional bang for your hard-earned bucks. Happy Money isn't a purchase; it's an investment—and a shrewd one at that."—Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness
“No one understands how to get more happiness out of our money better than Liz Dunn and Mike Norton. Their research is not only on the cutting edge—it changes where the edge is. Like stand-up comedians of science, Dunn and Norton take ordinary observations that everybody experiences and craftily distill them with a clarity that makes us laugh, and then makes us think. They have done us a great service by sharing their knowledge with us in the easy-to-apply principles they present in this book.”—Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational
“How to spend smarter? Read this book!—a rare combination of informed science writing, rollicking good fun, and practical pointers for a more flourishing and compassionate life.”—David G. Myers, author of The Pursuit of Happiness
"Many books have been written to tell you how to make money, save money, and invest money. Now there's a book that can tell you how to spend it. Wisely."—Chip Heath, co-author of Made to Stick and Switch
"[Dunn and Norton's] infectious enthusiasm for their subject is admirable.... They provide an interesting exploration of increasing happiness by buying time, as well as ways to address budgeting."—Kirkus Reviews
"University of British Columbia psychology professor Dunn and Harvard Business School marketing professor Norton, friends from graduate school, offer a witty, lively guide to changing the philosophy behind spending so that it brings you true joy.... Readers cannot help but be charmed by this funny, warm guide to creating the good life from scratch."—Publishers Weekly
"This small, snappily written book is focused on five points, all directed at enabling people to get more bang for their bucks... Buy [this] book, read [it], take the advice [it] offer[s] to heart, and you’ll be a happier person."—Barry Schwartz, Los Angeles Review of Books
“Each of Dunn and Norton's five principles offers a scientifically validated means of increasing happiness. Like asking a surgical expert to perform your heart transplant, following their principles might be better than just winging it. And luckily, spending money is a lot easier and much less messy than major surgery.”—Guy Kawasaki
"Packed with tips...people will come away from this book believing it was money well spent."—The Economist
“Dunn and Norton strive to show how to spend money in less typical but more pleasing ways. They offer five principles you can use to buy happiness…. I love the five principles of happy money because they aren’t about getting more money but getting more out of the money you have.”—Michelle Singletary, The Washington Post
“[Happy Money] is filled with surprising, counterintuitive findings that also produce a spark of recognition…. Dunn and Norton have outlined a series of valuable and instructive findings, demonstrating that people tend to overlook the effects of attention and adaptation, and that they would do better if they were to make expenditure decisions with those effects in mind.”—The New Republic
"[S]hort and breezy but research-heavy."—New York Times
About the Author
Elizabeth Dunn is an associate professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. At age twenty-six, she was featured as one of the “rising stars” across all of academia by the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Michael Norton is an associate professor of marketing at the Harvard Business School. His research has twice been featured in The New York Times Magazine Year in Ideas issue. In 2012, he was selected for Wired magazine’s Smart List as one of “50 People Who Will Change the World.”
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The first sentence of the prologue shattered that preconception immediately. This book aims squarely for the "money can't buy happiness" idiom, with the idea that it can...if utilized properly.
Not in the usual ways, either. It's not necessarily how much you spend, or saving tons of cash for a rainy day so you feel more secure about the future.
There are five principles that can lead to monetary happiness:
1. Buy Experiences
2. Make it a Treat
3. Buy Time
4. Pay Now, Consume Later
5. Invest in Others
"Buy Experiences" essentially means to spend money on memorable experiences instead of expensive toys, because you are able to relate to those experiences on an emotional level for much longer that with objects.
I had actually utilized this concept myself recently. I had come into a small inheritance, and instead of paying down bills like we had originally planned, we splurged on our first real family vacation to the beach. My son still talks about going back, and thoughts of that time together still spark warm feelings.
"Make It A Treat" focuses on the concept of overconsumption creating a weakening of the enjoyment factor. If you have something every day, even if it's something you love, it becomes routine rather than fully enjoyable.
I discovered this when for budgeting reasons, I stopped buying coffee house specialty drinks and made coffee at home. Once in a while I'd get a gift card or decide to splurge, and those moments took me back to the first time I'd tasted one, and it was always an amazing sensation. They explain why that is in detail, and it's fascinating. I plan to apply this to other aspects of my life, now that I'm aware of it.
"Buy Time": The idea that you make life decisions that allow you to have more free time. I'm a busy mom, so Multitask is my middle name. Suggestions include outsourcing unnecessary tasks, like housecleaning. Much as I'd love to do that, it's not possible. But I do have an example of my own.
We instituted "Takeout Wednesdays", where my husband is responsible for bringing home dinner every Wednesday. That gives me free time I can plan on, and lets me get things done AND get down time.
"Pay Now, Consume Later" was a fascinating concept. In society today, we're more apt to do the reverse, thanks to credit cards. Essentially, it's sort of like half the fun of a roadtrip is getting there. When consummation is delayed, from something as simple as eating candy to attending an event, the enjoyment is increased. When something's already paid for, if enough time passes, it seems "free" when it's actually consumed.
I've personally seen this in action when I backorder things online, like books, video games and DVDs. It's almost like a prize coming in the mail, because the actual payment process is dim in my memory. I've also stashed candy away for until the kids are asleep, and it always tastes even better then. (Don't judge me. (.:)
Last concept: Invest In Others. This hits on how donating or spending money on others feels better than buying things for yourself. I totally got with this chapter, because I deal with that scenario all the time.
An example: Recently, I had a friend give me two free product coupons for a very expensive brand of bread. I was picking mine out, and a lady next to me mentioned she loved it, but it was too expensive. I tapped her on the shoulder and gave her one of the coupons. The free item would have given me pleasure, but giving it away gave me a great feeling that still lingers.
Toys and goodies are great, but doing onto others is incredible.
This was an easy and fun read...I liked the authors' (Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton) writing style. It reminded me of sitting around with friends over coffee and chatting. I had never read anything like it, and really thought it was original.
I already embrace these principles on some level, but look forward to applying them to more of my life choices, and seeing my money make me happier. It'll have a permanent place on my bookshelf...and in my bathroom! (But that's another chapter.)
I received a complimentary copy from BzzAgent in exchange for my review.
I feel like most people I know don't make purchasing decisions based on happiness but instead focus on what others are doing and frequently are influenced by ads that tell them how purchases would make them happy. From personal experience I have noticed that most of the time, such behavior doesn't produce a desirable effect and certainly nothing long-lasting. Luckily for us, there is enough new psyc science research that can help us be better at our decision making. This book tells great story and summarizes such research.
I started to implement some of the advice in the book. For example, people frequently enjoy planning and thinking about upcoming vacations much more so than the vacations themselves. So why not spend more time planning and plan them farther in advance, so that you can savor them more!
"Happy Money" features insights on how to get the most from a product not based an item's price tag, but by its psychological value. For instance, ditch the BMW and go for a trip to Bora Bora. Because novelty creates more pleasure than repetition, make things a treat like dinner outings. While many of these pointers seem like common sense, they're also deceptively profound--if everyone adopted these tactics, we'd be living in a much more sustainable, value-driven society. The point on investing in others is particularly crucial: the authors point out that one of the most gratifying uses of money is improving the well-being of others. Some authors expound upon this subject beautifully (Lynn Twist's "The Soul of Money" is one such book), but it's wonderful seeing Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton mentioning these points in a more matter-of-fact way.
I highly recommend this book to people of ALL income levels. Those who work hard to stretch a dollar will be given great advice on how to "feel" rich even if the bank balance indicates otherwise. Those with resources can learn how to have a wealthy spirit, as it's clear that this does not always coincide with being financially well-off.
Though written by two accomplished academics, it contains no jargon but plenty of humorous self-deprecation. It's an easy read.
My only complaint was thinking I had 40 percent left of the book, only for it to be the "reference" portion. Of course, I should've expected nothing less given the extensive use of scientific studies to back assertions.
One of my favorite books of the year, for sure.
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The book, Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending by Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton, summarizes current research on how you spend money changes how happy...Read more