Summer Reading Party: Happy Money

best personal finance reading list

Welcome to our Summer Reading Party!

First up is Happy Money!

“If you think money can’t buy happiness, your not spending it right.”

This is a book that I have come back to and read 3 or 4 times now. It lays out 5 simple ways we can spend in ways that will actually increase our happiness. The authors cite lots of research and offer up a ton of great examples. It’s a book you can easily read in a few hours and pull out easy to implement suggestions right away.

Happy Money offers simple truths that are deserving of some thoughtful reflection. I suppose that’s why I keep coming back to this book. Each time I read it, one study, one story, or one piece of research resonates with something I am trying to figure out currently.

Like right now, there has been a lot of talk in our home about real estate and our plans for the next 5-10 years. A LOT of talking. But re-reading the first topic (Buy Experiences) and all the great data they had on the impact of home ownership, or effect of moving to a nice home, well…it gave my pause on our plans. Even though this is the 4th time I’ve read this book, I needed to read THIS information, RIGHT now. Before I let our plans run amuk!

5 take-ways

1. Buy Experiences

Like I said, this has been so helpful to go over! We think of it applying to small things, like new shoes vs a weekend camping trip. But the research behind bigger purchases is amazing as well, like homes! How we might like a bigger/nicer home more, but it has NO impact on our overall happiness.

2. Make it a Treat

The authors offer SO many good examples and ideas in this chapter. But the take away that I want to start applying, like today, is rotating the “treats” in my life. Like instead of heading to the same awesome coffee shop every time I need a few quite writing hours, trying out new places. Or buying 1 kind of fancy cheese a month. I use to keep a rather constant supply of nice cheese on hand. Then I bought no fancy cheese (in my struggle to lose the pregnancy weight. (10 pounds to go! I got this–before FinCon!)) Maybe I need to buy a different nice cheese each month. Blue cheese in May. Feta in June. Smoked Gouda in July. Back to Blue Cheese again, because Blue Cheese is like LIFE! I can buy a pound or two at Costco for $5-10 a pop. That might be the happiest $5-$10 I spend that month. Plus I won’t stuff myself full of this rich treat trying to make sure 3 kinds of cheese don’t go bad! Fancy cheese might get added to my “joy” money. Because if a creamy Brie baked with huckleberry sauce doesn’t bring joy, I’m not sure what can!

3. Buy Time

So last week, in my newsletter, I talked about how my “time budget” is out of control. I basically am trying to squeeze 35 hours of awesome into each 24 hour day, and seem confused on why this isn’t working each and every week. Geesh. So this week I sat down and wrote a time budget. I took a long honest look at my commitments, my desires, and the actual amount of time everything takes. (I’m the walking example to “planning fallacy”!)

I’m going to start buying more time! Even after we left our 9-5 jobs and no longer get a normal paycheck, I don’t feel like we need more money, but boy could we use more time! I just paid $30 for a month of childcare at the gym. Now Mr. Mt and I can go 4 times a week to work out together instead of swapping turns.

And I might not stop there! I have a friend looking for some part time work this summer, and I might hire her to do some house cleaning. I realized I need about 2.5 hours a day for cooking and cleaning. x 7 days a week. (Little kids are messy!) If I could pass off 4 of those 17+ hours a week, I could do more of the work I really love and am excited about.

4. Pay Now, Consume Later

Ok, there are SO many good take-aways from this chapter. From pre-paying for vacations, the benefits of looking forward to something and how we get a better value when we pony up the cash up front.

5. Invest in Others

This chapter is all about the effects of our giving on our happiness. And the correlation is huge! Giving as little as $5 can increase our happiness. The authors have a great study in here about the relationship with the percent of money we spend on others and charitable giving and a person’s happiness. Even when they factored in things like income, the percent given (gifts and donations) was the number one predictor of a persons happiness. I’ve written about how to create a giving fund, and how to make a big impact with small gifts. Both are great ways to get started!

Sign up for my newsletter and I’ll be drawing one lucky subscriber (sorry just US folks) to win a copy of this awesome book. It’s a great one to own as I come back and read it every year or two. And each time there is something that I really needed to hear again!


We will be chatting about each book on Facebook! Make sure you Like my Facebook page to get more info on the times and dates for those Facebook Live events!

Here is an Amazon link, where you can grab a copy for less than $7 right now. =)

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