Book Review: You Can Buy Happiness (And It’s Cheap)

The title of  this book would not normally inspire confidence in me. It sounds more like a get-quick-rich scheme than a good analysis of how money relates to happiness.

However, I was persuaded to read this book because the author, Tammy Strobel, writes the wonderful blog, Rowdy Kittens. I’ve really enjoyed her writing over the past year or so, and I’m constantly amazed by her journey into a very small dwelling—a tiny house for her, her husband and their cats.

The farther I got into Strobel’s book, the more I liked it. It had funny, touching anecdotes, including many from her own life experience. I appreciated her honesty about her questions and concerns about simplifying her life. In addition, she readily admitted that everyone needs and wants different things. Everyone goes through a different journey to happiness.

The main argument of this book was that, although money obviously provides necessities, the excess of it does not greatly increase nor decrease one’s life satisfaction. Instead, Strobel put an emphasis on choosing how she and her husband spend their money maximizes their quality of life. Based on their own definition, of course, instead of that of everyone around them.

Although the book is set up as a narrative—a memoir of sorts—Strobel creates a clear theme for each chapter and includes research and anecdotes from her life and her friends and family. She discusses debt, her relationship with her personal possessions (a topic I find fascinating), choosing a career, picking experiences over possessions, and a plethora of other topics. At the end of each chapter, she added a list of Micro-Actions readers can take. Again, these Micro-Actions can easily be tailored to each particular reader. I did some of them; I skipped others.

The book is meant not as a road map toward a happier life; it’s meant as a conversation starter with yourself.

I highly recommend it. But, if you are trying to simplify your life and stop buying so many books (guilty as charged), drop me a line, and I’m happy to lend it out.

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