Career Book Review: “All the Money in the World”

In her new book, All the Money in the World: What the Happiest People Know About Getting and Spending, Laura Vanderkam asks a provocative question:

If you had all the money in the world – not literally, but all that you wanted – what would you change about your life? 

She then shares the stories of a wide variety of people who have made their desired life changes with a lot less money than you might think. Ultimately, Laura points out, spending money is about making choices. What I particularly enjoyed about Laura’s book is that she focuses just as much on the choices you make in earning that money as the choices you make in spending it.

Here are some of my favorite quotations from the book and my takeaways from each:

“If you don’t like your current job, then it’s always possible you’d like a better-paying one more.”

Lesson: Research, research, research additional ways to earn income (freelancing, consulting, building an Etsy store, etc.) and, if you decide to look for a new job, research industries and employers that pay more than you make now. It’s not necessarily easy to find higher paying work, but you always have options.

“Money spent 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.”

Lesson: That $250 handbag could be a plane ticket to visit your best friend in Seattle. Renting the apartment that’s $200 a month cheaper could mean 10 nights enjoying your favorite takeout sushi. As Laura points out, we often gain much more happiness from experiences than things, so make your spending choices accordingly.

“Rather than say, ‘I can’t afford it, as long as ‘it’ is within reason, what if you started asking yourself ‘How can I afford it?”

Lesson: When you really, really want something – an item or an experience – spend time figuring out how you can get it. Can you take on a freelance project to earn the extra money? Can you put away $20 a week to save up slowly? Can you enjoy a less expensive version of the item you want? Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

If you find these ideas as thought-provoking as I do, I encourage you to read All the Money in the World as well as Laura’s previous book, 168 Hours: You Have More Money Than You Think, which applies the same deep dive into how we spend our time – the only thing in the world that money really can’t buy.

What would you do with “all the money in the world”? Will the above lessons change anything about the way you approach money? Please share in the Comments!

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Lindsey is a globally recognized career and workplace expert and the leading voice on generational diversity. She has spoken for more than 300 audiences including Google, Goldman Sachs, Estee Lauder, Stanford and Wharton. Lindsey is the author of four career and workplace advice books, and her insights have appeared in media outlets including The TODAY Show, CNBC, NPR, the Harvard Business Review and the Wall Street Journal.


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