Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Book Review: All The Money In The World by Laura Vanderkam

Most people I know have some form of problem with money. If you're a student, you probably don't have enough of it. This book doesn't sound like there's much of a link to Japan, but read on and I'll try to explain my thoughts.

The book isn't meant to be a directional book, in fact, the author says that the book is meant to be taken as a series of essays, rather than a "do this and your life will be easier" book. And in this book, I found one line that I had to share.

"More important, though, by figuring out what matters to you, you can start to figure out ways you might be able to use money in a satisfying fashion."

You see, being a poor struggling student in Japan (it's a category that almost all my friends in JLC fall under), money problems are a really big issue. I'm lucky because so far, I haven't run out of money by the end of the month, but I defintely feel stress over the need to manage my monthly expenses and save money. Right now, what I'm doing is that I bought a little expense book to record all my expenses.

One interesting thing part of this excercise is that I realised that my book buying habits were not as bad as I had imagined. It's fairly constant, and doesn't reach 10% of my monthly spending (it's more like 6%). While this doesn't give me the liscense to start buying books everytime I step into a bookstore, it does mean I can feel less guilty whenever I buy a book.

In addition, I realised that if I have to cut down on expenses, the easiest and completely non-painful way is to resist buying clothes. My clothing expenses are the most variable part of my budget (the lowest is 0% because I was on a no-clothing diet and the highest is close to 20%) and you know what? I don't get as much utility/happiness out of clothes than I do from books. What this suggests is that if I buy less clothes, I can buy more books and overall, feel happier.

Like the book says:
"Money spend on one thing is money not spent on something else, and these choices have consequences for our happiness and the happiness of those we vow to love."

The book is divided roughly into three parts (There's a fourth, but it's more like an epilogue): Getting, Spending and Sharing. In the three parts and nine chapters, the book explores a variety of topics that made me think about how I'm using my monthly allowance in a new way. I can't try to earn more (school regulations for the year), but I can change the way I spend money and how I feel after I spend it. And that, I think, is a good start.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.