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Happy Money: The New Science of Smarter Spending [Paperback]

Elizabeth Dunn , Michael Norton
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
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Book Description

2 Jan 2014

After a fairly low threshold, income and material wealth have no measurable effect on happiness. But how we spend our money does.

In this groundbreaking book, Dr Elizabeth Dunn and Dr Michael Norton explain the secret to “happiness-efficient” spending. Using their own cutting-edge research, they reveal:

• Why it’s better to buy concert tickets instead of a new iPhone

• Adverts actually make television more enjoyable

• Why you should book your next holiday many months in advance

• How “time affluence” is more important than a fat pay cheque

• Why charitable giving is the best investment you can make

A rare combination of informed science writing, wit, and practical pointers for a flourishing life, Happy Money will help you to be more fulfilled for less.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications (2 Jan 2014)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 1780743378
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780743370
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 110,073 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Authors

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Product Description


'Cutting edge. Like stand-up comedians of science, Dunn and Norton take ordinary observations that everybody experiences and craftily distil them with a clarity that makes us laugh, and then makes us think.'

(Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational)

'Lively and engaging. Happy Money isn’t a purchase; it’s an investment—and a shrewd one at that.'

(Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on 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 Decisive: How to Make Better Decisions in Life and Work)

'Wise and entertaining… Dunn and Norton provide practical and well-evidenced insights for all of us, from individuals, to communities, to governments.'

(David Halpern, Behavioural Insight Team, No 10, and author of The Hidden Wealth of Nations)

'An interesting and breezily written book, full of fun anecdotes and behavioural research… Money may not be able to buy you happiness but purchasing this book might just help steer you in the right direction.'

(Financial Times)

'Packed with tips to help wage slaves as well as lottery winners… people will come away from this book believing it was money well spent.'

(The Economist)

'A small investment in this invaluable book could be worth its weight in gold… combine[s] a witty, conversational style with a dazzling depth of research… Whether you have lots of money or are on a tight budget, this may change how you look at your life – for the better.'

(Daily Mail)

'Dunn and Norton are enthusiastic and engaging writers… and they are careful to back up their recommendations with citations to the relevant academic literature.'

(Times Higher Education)

'Show your money worries the door with this practical and fascinating read.'

(Healthy magazine)

'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)

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. Her work has been featured in top academic journals, including two recent papers in Science, and in hundreds of media outlets worldwide.

Michael Norton is an associate professor of marketing at 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.”

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but not overwhelming 21 Sep 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maybe money can buy happiness afterall... 12 Jun 2013
By Mark
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
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.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting new concept 20 July 2013
By Aniko
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A new approach to money and happiness 17 Nov 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A bit laboured. 25 Oct 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Educational, enticing, useful - and a fun read! 22 Oct 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating science, good humour
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. Read more
Published 1 month ago by GreenShip
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting in parts
This is not a self-help book, although it would be possible to apply some of the principles to your own life. Read more
Published 2 months ago by GeordieReader
5.0 out of 5 stars Mindblowing
Very informative, and also indeed a page turner written by very well-known scholars. This book provided me insight on how to maximize the happiness I could retrieve from each... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Kwanpeemai
1.0 out of 5 stars Sorry- not my idea of a good read
Buy experiences not stuff ,dont chase high a high salary, buy time if you can . thats it ---the rest is froth and bits of "research". Read more
Published 4 months ago by sogart
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book
Very insightful book on what really makes us happy. Uses a mix of relevant research and compelling stories to convey a complex subject. Would highly recommend the book.
Published 6 months ago by Sarah A
3.0 out of 5 stars Only Ok....
Some interesting ideas, but the writing is very 'American'. The jokes aren't very funny and the points are over-laboured. Read more
Published 10 months ago by DF
4.0 out of 5 stars Value adding
A well written, and well researched book exploring how our behaviour with money can influence our feeling of well-being. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Lioc
5.0 out of 5 stars This book uses research and makes you think about your own priorities
This is a short sharp read with examples drawn from UK, Europe and USA to illustrate five key principles. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Tony C
3.0 out of 5 stars Not rocket science
I enjoyed this book, it was humorous and thought provoking, but not life changing. It was refreshing to think of money as a force for good for a change.
Published 12 months ago by pauline studley
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