Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Does Money Buy Happiness?

I read this great blog called The Frugal Girl (FG).  Her tagline is "cheerfully living on less" which I think pretty much sums up my life as a stay at home mom.  FG talks about reading with her kids and cooking meals at home and take-out date night and has really reasonable ideas about living frugally and simply.  I love her.  Her's is one of the few blogs written by someone I don't know that I read religiously.

Yesterday she posted a book review about this book.

I need to fess up and say that in all likelihood I will not read this book. I find books about saving money (along with books about parenting) could usually be summed up in a pamphlet.  Here is FG's insight on the book.

"All the Money in the World isn’t a typical personal finance or frugality book.  There are no chapters on coupons or index funds or IRAs.

Rather,...{All The Money in the World} is a look at the relationship between money and happiness and how we can spend and save our money in ways that are meaningful.

An interesting thing Vanderkam points out is that sometimes, the big-ticket items in our lives are the ones bringing us the least happiness (and vice versa).  For instance, it’s quite possible that you’d be happier living in a small home, buying $5 lattes every day than you’d be living in a “dream” home with no money for small extras."
I'd never thought about it in precisely those terms but I am in love with this idea.  The hubbs and I live in a little apartment.  When we first started out the search for living quarters in San Diego we set a budget that ranged from $1,400-2,1000 (try to pick your jaw up off the floor.  That's just what rent is in SoCal for a tiny little apartment.  We call it the Sunshine Tax).  We picked an apartment that was at the lower end of that range.  Last time we renewed our lease we did it for 2 years because we love our house.  And more than just loving our house we love having a little extra cash in our pockets.
I'd never realized the many ways that this makes our lives easier and happier but it does.  This week I was suddenly struck with a panic that Claire doesn't eat vegetables {at all} so I added all of these weird things to our grocery list hoping to entice her to eat them {for the record, 2-year olds love Nori (seaweed)}.  I didn't worry about it.  I blew the grocery budget but I knew there was money there for the blowing.  Same thing with this pregnancy and my craving for hamburgers.  We've been out to eat more frequently in the last 4 months than we have in our whole marriage.  
And here's the glory of it.  I don't stress about it.  I get to do that because we went for the apartment that was at the lower end of our budget and we drive cars that are old and crappy. 
And those 69 cent diet cokes from McDonalds that I still buy at lest twice a week?  Even cheaper than a latte and oh the joy they bring.


  1. There is something wonderful about going to get a Diet Coke. And, as well, there is something wonderful about having enough money that you don't have to worry about the cost of everything. However, happiness isn't really the money; I think it's the sense of contentment and control you feel you have over your life.

  2. How I needed to read this entry this morning. We have a sweet jewelbox of a house and lots of family coming into town soon, and for some reason all I see is the smallness of our place. But the truth is, I love our home and it is so close to the mountains and nestled in a culdesac full of the loveliest folk. I'm going to take this post to heart and serve everyone a cold diet coke in our tiny backyard garden. Thanks.