This week's book discussion: "Happy Money"


In their book “Happy Money” Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton write that Western Society is doing money all wrong. The American Dream is misleading us to spend 50% of our income on housing and transportation, the two spending categories least correlated with happiness.

What does have a high correlation?

  • Seeking experiences

  • Buying time

  • Treating ourselves occasionally

  • Paying in advance

  • Investing in others

  • Having savings

In addition, the authors also state that debt is inversely correlated to happiness because it impacts our sense of personal freedom.

This week’s question for discussion:

What types of spending offer you the highest happiness ROI?


What types of spending offer you the highest happiness ROI?

Right now, for me, I think it is dumping money into my savings account. I get warm fuzzies every time I put money into it. It is buying me security and time in the event of job loss or major catastrophe.

A few years ago, I had a full year of net salary saved in a money market account. After buying a house, car, grad school, a baby, loaning my mom $5,0000, and several house related expenses (windows, water line, foundation repair, HVAC), my savings had dwindled to virtually nothing.

I think I’m finally “out of the woods” for major expenses, It’s finally started to build back up.

(Note I still have around 20k in a taxable investment account 20/80 stocks/bonds if worse came to worse).

Second place goes to eating out. I love spending time with my wife and child, going out to eat. We can relax and enjoy each other’s company and not worry about cooking and who will clean up after.


Sounds like you’ll have that savings account topped back up in no time.

The key to treats according to the authors is to make it the occasional treat (you know the kind, where you have some anticipation mixed in with a little deprivation). That just makes it taste better, doesn’t it?

Thanks for sharing your thoughts…and happy saving!


Thanks for highlighting this book. I’ve recently become very interested in the topic of happiness and how it impacts how we spend our time, money, and energy, so I’m excited to check this book out.

To answer your question, spending on my health offers me the highest happiness ROI. Specifically monthly visits to a chiropractor and for massage therapy. As a former gymnast who had back surgery when I was younger, I’ve come to realize that being proactive in these areas makes a huge difference in my quality of life. However, it’s only been in the last two years that I’ve stopped viewing these costs as an optional expense (or worse a monthly splurge).


I hear you on that one! Mr. F2P and I have an agreement: no fitness or educational expenses are ever questioned. It’s always been the case with us because having those types of expenses means we’re investing in our greatest asset: ourselves!

I think you’ll really enjoy the book if you get your hands on it.