Book In Progress: All The Money In The World

After finishing “Your Money Or Your Life” (YMOYL), I felt the need to continue my mental shift toward money and decided to read All The Money In The World by Laura Vanderkam.  The author herself was kind enough to email me a PDF of the book despite knowing that I jot down my ongoing thoughts rather than write a full review.  Note to self: I would like to write a wrap-up of my thoughts on YMOYL but that may not be happening soon, or ever!

Here are my random thoughts after reading the first few chapters.

I like her clear, concise writing style.  “Your Money or Your Life” felt more warm and fuzzy; the tone of this book is more like your most practical best friend.

Chapter 1 “What Else Can That Wedding Ring Buy?” — The author  uses the cost of a wedding ring as a springboard to discuss “opportunity costs”‘; in other words, what can you do with the same amount of money.  Is it more worth while to buy a $5,000 ring but can’t afford cleaning help or date nights when you have kids years later?  Obviously some people can do both, but as someone who is now carefully watching household expenses after kids,  I’m 100% sure that the wiser decision for us was to skip the diamond ring and have the money to get cleaning and nanny/babysitter help!

Chapter 2 “Don’t Scrimp More, Make More” — The main point of this chapter is to illustrate how you can make a bigger difference in your quality of life if you focus on making more money instead of scrimping every penny.  I generally agree, however with huge caveats.    I think go-getters and people who have “succeeded” often make the assumption that savers have less ambition; if they would only build up their skill set, they could make more money instead of clipping coupons and cutting cable, etc..  While I can see the reason for that assumption, I also think that it’s not the complete picture.  I have good friends in both camps — those who are more natural go-getters/entrepreneurial and those who are not.  While both can have similar educational backgrounds, go-getters are usually more skilled at two very socially-valuable skills: networking and selling themselves.  Time and time again, I see my go-getter friends succeed while the others lose out on jobs, deals, etc… Does this mean you shouldn’t try if you’re not a natural at these socially-valued skills? Of course not. It is very possible to greatly improve at these skills and it is possible to compete and “win” since a variety of factors also come into play in any given situation.

For those who succeeded or are more entrepreneurial, it’s hard to imagine why anyone would “waste time” and scrimp through life.  What I think gets forgotten is that it gets extremely disheartening to be second-choice or third-choice. After a certain number of years, it’s better (for some people) to focus on other things besides job/career/money success and focus on saving money, even it is doing something as mundane as coupon clipping (!) And while I still can’t imagine going to extremes for couponing, saving money is something within everyone’s control and hence more appealing to many.

I do have a tip to add for those who lean towards scrimping. Learn to negotiate!  Negotiate your salary is most important but you can also save when you shop, buy a house, buy a car, on cable bills, on medical expenses, etc.. Doing this often and doing this well will make a bigger difference than cutting coupons.

This book can be helpful to many but I think it’s most useful for those in their 20s/30s with entrepreneurial leanings.  If you find ways to make more money and be smarter with your financial resources, you’ll go a long way and the sooner you learn those lessons the better!

Back to reading…

4 responses to “Book In Progress: All The Money In The World

  1. I’ve been really enjoying your YMoYL thoughts so I hope you do finish!

  2. I keep meaning to pick up YMOYL!

    A couple of observations, and I should probably write up my own review of All the Money.

    1. Re: wedding ring money being used for something more useful, I agree in principle, but in practice, I think it would be very hard to either save that cash for later (nanny/babysitter/whatnot). Knowing how we were as newlyweds, we probably would have either spent it piecemeal on unremarkable eating out, or *maybe* a nice vacation. But I doubt we would have been smart enough to sock it away for the important stuff, unfortunately. Also, it was HIS money pre-marriage. (But we do split up our stuff into HIS, HERS and OURS, so maybe we’re unusual that way.)

    2. Re: coupon clipping, cable-cutting, etc – I think there’s a huge difference in spending a bunch of effort to save 25 cents on something vs. saving $50/mo by ditching cable. I definitely don’t see those in the same bucket. I like to think of it as time and effort vs. savings.

    • True re #2. Last year, it took me 15 minutes to cut my phone bill by half. I had some success with cable, too, with minimal effort, though with a lot of procrastination before I make the call!

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