Reviews for Happy Money : The Science of Smarter Spending

Kirkus Reviews 2013 March #1
How to "wring the most happiness out of every $5"--by structuring experiences to create the largest impact on happiness and satisfaction. Dunn (Psychology/Univ. of British Columbia) and Norton (Marketing/Harvard Business School) write that bringing in more money doesn't necessarily increase happiness. This is certainly not a new assertion, but their infectious enthusiasm for their subject is admirable. They organize their thinking around five principles for money--1) Buy Experiences; 2) Make It a Treat; 3) Buy Time; 4) Pay Now, Consume Later; 5) Invest in Others--and they offer a way to break out of the consumer cycle of ever-bigger, expensive purchases of goods like cars and houses. They argue that the happiness associated with such a pathway is evanescent at best. A bigger bang for the buck can be achieved by organizing small purchases using their principles. The more of them that can be combined into one purchase, the greater the happiness. Buying coupons for friends to enjoy coffee at Starbucks sometime later in the week is better than doing the same for oneself, or buying the coffee today. They organize the evidence to back this up, discussing how "what we call the ‘drool factor' "--anticipation--works on us at a physiological level, and how "delay can enhance the pleasure of consumption." Dunn and Norton argue against going into debt to pay for either experiences or things, insisting that debt is detrimental to marriages and other relationships, nor do they favor buying now and paying later. They provide an interesting exploration of increasing happiness by buying time, as well as ways to address budgeting. Helpful ways to think about improving quality of life as it relates to finances. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 January #2

Money. For most people, it's a source of stress and fear. And yet more money doesn't change things--research shows that once an American is earning around ,000 a year, he does not get any happier with incremental income. What if instead of simply focusing on curtailing our spending, we changed how we spent our money, putting it toward purchases that actually make us happy? 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. Buy experiences rather than products, they advise; make your purchases treats rather than hobbies; buy yourself time; save rather than putting yourself in debt; and invest in others. Referencing behavioral psychology experiments and tests, the authors direct readers through the ways they can change their behavior to make the spending on even a limited budget lead to happiness. Readers cannot help but be charmed by this funny, warm guide to creating the good life from scratch. Agent: Katinka Matson, Brockman Inc. (May)

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