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3.6 out of 5 stars21
3.6 out of 5 stars
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on 21 September 2013
There are some interesting points made in the book such as how psychologically humans prefer experiences to objects and so spending your money on a stay in a nice hotel rather than on the latest iPhone will bring you more longer term satisfaction. Making experiences more of a treat, from eating chocolate less often to driving your high end car less of the time, also makes people generally get more from the experiences than if they become regular.

The book falls down in that it could be at least half the size it is for the content. Each chapter looks at a different aspect of human psychology which would affect how we spend money but it really labours each point with far too many similar examples until you feel like you are being patronised. It is interesting but definitely not overwhelming as the book promotion makes out.
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on 12 June 2013
But only if you spend that money in the right way. This is another well researched and evidence based, scientific look at the how we spend our money and why we so often spend on things that actually make us less happy. I like the authors admission at the end of the book that even though we know what science says it still isn't easy to overcome our natural instinct to spend for ourselves and in the moment.

Happy Money has lots of excellent examples and a is written with great humour. With US and UK co-authors the book caters well with examples form the UK, Europe and the US (rather than being more US biased which many business/ personal growth books tend to be). The authors are also clear we should start small, just changing the way we spend out pocket change can be enough, this realistic approach adds greatly to the chance that people can actually apply these ideas.

Happy Money builds on many of the ideas developed by positive psychology over the past few years and brings them bang up to date with the latest research and findings. The five specific ways to spend money are deceptively simple, counter intuitive and more difficult to master but the evidence is there following these ideas will make you happier.

My short summary of the 5 principles:

1. Buy Experiences. Spend money on experiences rather than more 'stuff you don't need'.
2. Make it a Treat. Ration the things you enjoy to make them back into an occasional treat.
3. Buy Time. Think about how any purchase or spending decision you make will change how you spend your time.
4. Pay Now, Consume Later. Reverse the current trend of buy now, pay later to enjoy what you do much more.
5. Invest in others. Think about how you spend your next £5, make others happier through acts of kindness and spending on them rather than yourself.

If more people read this book and applied just a few of the ideas I'm sure the world would be a kinder and happier place, for that reason this is a 5 star book and highly recommended. Thank you to Daniel Pink the author of Drive for the link to this book, if you enjoyed this book I'd highly recommend Drive too.
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on 10 November 2014
The takeaway message from this book is just about as good as the book itself. Here's the five principles of spending your money in such a way as to extract the most happiness out it:

1. Buy experiences - especially shared, unique ones, linked with your sense of who you want to be. They contribute to lasting happiness more than stuff.
2. Make it a treat. Beware 'treat slippage' (my phrase) where something you do for a luxury becomes something you do regularly (and then stop noticing and enjoying). Apparently even buying a house rather than renting it doesn't increase your happiness; it soon just falls to becoming part of the backdrop of your life.
.3. Buy time. Pay others to do what you don't like. Volunteer for stuff; it makes you  feel more in control. Then, the real time killers are things like commuting and TV.
4. Pay now, consume later. Anticipation heightens the fun. Consuming later feels like it's free. 
5. Invest in others

The rest of the book is the research findings, some slightly self-indulgent and largely irrelevant personal references and a clutch of not hugely funny jokes. Unarguably a lot of this book is padding. So arguably the sixth principle is: don't buy the book, read the reviews.
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on 17 November 2013
In this fascinating book, Elizabeth Dunn (a psychologist) and Michael Norton (a marketing expert) look at their research on our views of money, how we spend it and how what we spend it on can increase or decrease our happiness. As we currently find ourselves in a demanding period of financial scarcity, the book is a timely aid to help the reader spend their money in a way that brings maximum happiness.

The authors seek to demonstrate that how we spend our money can have biological and emotional effects that feed directly into our health and wellbeing. Some of the long-held truths about money prove to be erroneous and this is proved through the findings of some innovative research. Some of the findings of this research reflect things I'm sure we've all suspected from time to time, but having this proved scientifically (and sometimes biologically) makes for a powerful read.

Happy Money puts forward five strategies which aim to help the reader (whether an individual, a business or a charity) use the money they have to increase their happiness levels. These strategies are:

* Buy experiences - rather than consumer goods;
* Make it a treat - saving something for a special occasion makes you enjoy it more;
* Buy time - rather than sacrificing time in an effort to save money;
* Pay now, consume later - a bit of anticipation leads to greater enjoyment; and
* Invest in others - donating to charity and helping others reaps rewards in happiness for the donor as well as the recipient.

The book devotes a chapter to each of the above concepts and by putting forward evidence of research outcomes and anecdotal tales convinces us of their truth. The final chapter attempts to apply these strategies to the spending done by governments.

I found Happy Money very interesting and felt that it presented its case in a clear and accessible way. In particular I felt that the use of anecdotes about real individuals and businesses perfectly illustrated some of the abstract issues under discussion. The touches of humour spread throughout the book also felt natural and lightened what could, without them, have been a much dryer book.

I didn't consider that the final chapter on government spending worked as well as the previous sections, but that is probably to be expected as it's a much more complex area with more depending on it.

I greatly enjoyed the book and was totally convinced by its arguments. And since reading it have been aware of reflecting on my spending choices in relation to the five strategies. As I write this review it is mid-November and the spectre of Christmas present buying is looming large, however by applying the lessons of this book I'm hoping to make myself and the recipients happier with my choice of gift. Of course, I could just buy everyone a copy of Happy Money!
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on 24 February 2015
Jeez, I struggled badly to get past Chapter One of this book. It is a litany of Middle Class Problems. Chapter One assumes that you have a wad to begin with and goes on to explain why you should buy "experiences" before "things" with your cash to make you happy. But what experiences? We are given an example of a women called Liz's ideal holiday, that of surfing a different Nicaraguan beach every day. Nothing as mundane as an Australian or Californian beach, clearly. It seems that you should spend money on experiences that you can narcissistically boast about to your admiring friends at the next book reading and wine soirée in Notting Hill. "I agree this Pinot is wonderful, but it reminds me of the glass I was sipping on safari in the Cote d'Ivoir when an albino rhinoceros charged our Range Rover". This experience, as opposed to having the Range Rover, will make you happy while spending your money. That's because you already have a Range Rover. The authors back up their theories with academic studies, such as whether Harvard students given nice student houses by the river are any happier than those given less pretty and fashionable ones at the edge of the campus. You’ll have to read the book to find out the answer, but frankly I wouldn’t blame you if you couldn’t give a flying flock one way or the other. What made me happy was borrowing this book from the library as opposed to spending a fiver on it.
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Elizabet Dunn's and Michael Norton's Happy Money provides an entertaining, educational read that explains how what you spend affects your happiness. Through interesting research studies, surprising statistics and humorous stories, they offer five practical tips you can incorporate into your life for "happier spending".

I really enjoyed the depth they went into in each chapter to explain each tip by showcasing so many interesting research studies to support their points. I also really enjoyed the additional inspiration on how to incorporate the "happy money" principles into organisations to create more engaging, innovative workplaces. The suggestions which were made on government spending were pretty awesome too - I wish some countries would take them into account!

Overall, a really enjoyable read which connects academic research with practical how-to. As a positive psychology practitioner, that's exactly what I like to see from my colleagues! :)
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on 11 July 2014
The consumer market viewed from a professors desk concerns our behaviour. We now have the opportunity through this book to become more aware of our spending habits. The authors have some witty comments and write in an explanatory way so that we can grasp the scientific results.
But this is not enough to make it a really good book on how the most precious of our belongings can make us happy. There are missing links between the science results and our irrational money consumption.
To illustrate this point, I will quote a famous writer, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. In his book "Love during the colera era", he claims that snobbery is a race towards eternal life. This is not ment as a scientific statement, but demonstrates that "The New Science of Smarter Spending" has chapters that "Happy Money" don't contain. More skilled authors would have filled the missing link with some personal true stories/testemonies, or other literary tricks.
Or, perhaps the professor should join a writing class. "Happy Money" now and then appears to be white papers with a professors comments added, assembled into a book.
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on 20 July 2013
I bought the book because I liked the provocative idea of buying happiness instead of goods which comes through very well. I also found that it changed how I think about money so definitely was worth reading. However I also think that they are just scratching the surface to make the book really straightforward and easy to read. If you read the description that is exactly what you get, no more, no less. I would have enjoyed it more if there was a bit of surprise or depth in it.
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on 10 June 2014
This is not a self-help book, although it would be possible to apply some of the principles to your own life. It's actually a popular science book which looks at the ways in which people spend money and how that impacts on happiness. This is backed up with research and anecdotes, presented in a light, easy-to-read style, but I didn't find most of the examples startling or counter-intuitive. Many of the conclusions seemed very similar so it did feel quite repetitive. I would have liked to see some insight into why people keep buying things which experience must tell them will only keep them happy for a short time.

The second section looks at how governments can add to personal happiness by smart spending choices. This is well-written and organised but I have to say I found it rather dull, especially since the earlier part had been less than riveting.
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on 25 October 2013
Interesting book, but, like a lot of books, this could be a quarter the length. The same ideas and priciples re-stated over and over.
I am not a moron - I got it the first time.
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