Sunday, August 25, 2013

Book Review: Happy Money - The science of smarter spending by E. Dunn and M. Norton

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book through in exchange for an honest review and WOM marketing about the book and the philosophy it describes.

As everyone can imaging with a blog dedicated to frugal spending, I believe to only spend money when it is necessary and not waste money on gadgets that rarely get used or participate in fashion fads. I was definitely interested in the topic of the book "Happy Money" and when it mentioned smarter spending, I wanted to find out whether I would agree that there was a smarter spending.

Reading this book, I recognized that there is smarter spending. It means to make money that is spent count for something more than just a material gain. The authors show a set of principles that they argue can mean smarter spending. These principles are:

1) Buy Experiences not Things
2) Make it a Treat
3) Buy Time
4) Pay Now, Consume Later
5) Invest in Others

I find myself doing a lot of spending that is #2, making it a treat. I will occasionally spend money on a special gourmet item that we can cherish. For example my monthly Goodies box has had a few items that we really enjoyed. So for our summer evenings snacking in the sunroom, I purchased a couple of chipotle sauces that we use on the weekend as snacks. These sauces were more expensive than my usual grocery items and definitely not on clearance (even though I waited until they were on sale with free shipping). But now we have them as a special treat with chips or carrot sticks.

Similarly, the part about buying experiences and not things is something I can see making sense for us. We sometimes drive for a weekend trip to a nearby destination, even it is just the Farmer's Market in Raleigh. We will stroll around the market, maybe buying a homemade pie or some unusual heirloom tomatoes. Again, what we buy will be a treat, but the whole trip to the market is an experience because we only make that trip a few times a year. And one thing we always do at the market is either have ice cream or have lunch. Eating at the market is like having a picnic and makes the trip so much more fun and a little bit of an adventure each time.

available on

Some of you may think that these "trips" to the Farmer's Market are nothing special and you are right, they are just a shopping trip to the market to buy produce and have lunch or dessert. But we try to instill in our family the believe that it does not matter how much money you spend, but what you make out of it. And the fact that we enjoy dessert or lunch in an unusual place and outside in the sun, makes this trip an experience.

So for parents this book may provide good guidance on how to have experiences with their kids that do not break the bank. If you just tell your kids, we need to shop for tomatoes at the market, you are not selling the trip as an experience. We approach these trips as an adventure and make sure we have plenty of time to stroll around the market. No cell phones, no calendars, no clocks ticking. It is a little bit of old-fashioned family time on the weekend.

The same is true for our garden. We have a small garden each year and even though it is not big, it provides us a Summer full of fun for the family.We plan starter plants or use seeds in the spring, watch the plants grow and then harvest our own vegetables for months. It is not something I ever calculate profit on because we made time regularly to work in our garden and we enjoy it.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - planting a garden can provide a summer full of fun family time at a bargain budget!

I found myself actually agreeing with the authors on more points than I expected and I find this book reassuring for parents that want to spend money in a frugal, meaningful way!

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