Book Review: Happy Money

Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending by Elizabeth Dunn & Michael Norton

Recommended for marketers, charity volunteers, philosophy lovers, simplicity practitioners, and anyone who likes the idea of buying happiness but hasn’t found the right store yet.

Happy Money is an accessible psychology text much like Dan Airely’s Predictably Irrational or Stuff by Randy Frost. It provides case studies and experiments, but it doesn’t overload the reader with statistics, nor does it have a lot of technical jargon.

The main thrust of the book is how to spend money on things and experiences which make us happy. It also offers tips on how to increase our pleasure in certain favorite activities.

It boils down to investing in experiences, investing in others, and finding ways to maximize the time we have available.

Most things are fairly obvious things we “know” but don’t think to apply. Volunteering our time makes us happier and feel as though we have more time. Being present and mindful makes us enjoy our life more. Delegating distasteful mindless jobs gives us more time to enjoy life. (Read Tim Ferris’ 4-Hour Workweek. You’ll enjoy it and be envious all at the same time.)

Dunn and Norton boil down the framework to 5 principles:

  • Buy Experiences
  • Make it a Treat
  • Buy Time
  • Pay Now – Consume Later
  • Invest in Others

Simple? Yes. Logical? Yes. Easy? No.

However, the authors also provide excellent ways to apply the offered knowledge – as simple and hard as it is.

Recommended for non-fiction readers. Especially those who enjoyed The Happiness Project.


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