Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Shiny Objects: Why We Spend Money We Don't Have in Search of Happiness We Can't Buy by James A. Roberts

About Book:

In Shiny Objects: Why We Spend Money We Don’t Have in Search of Happiness We Can’t Buy, James A. Roberts, a leading researcher and expert on consumer behavior, exposes the hidden motivations and erroneous assumptions behind our spending habits. He also reveals the key to reversing the devastating and ever-increasing effects of materialism in modern culture, showing readers how we can actually increase our well-being by scaling back.

In addition, Roberts poses important questions like:
  • Do you have an emergency fund of at least $2500 for that proverbial rainy day?
  • Do you have at least six months’ worth of living expenses in the bank in case you lose your job or become ill?
  • Are you regularly making investments to a retirement account?
If the answer is no to any of these, Shiny Objects offers the lessons needed to change spending habits and develop smarter saving strategies. With a series of quizzes and questionnaires developed over years of consumer research—and full of staggering new research on credit card abuse and compulsive shopping—Shiny Objects will help readers examine their day-to-day behavior, offering tips and tools to make the necessary changes.

A perfect antidote to the fiscal anxiety that’s been sweeping the nation—and out just in time for the holiday shopping season—Shiny Objects sheds some much-needed light on the science of spending, and demonstrates how we can cultivate lives of real value.

My Thoughts:

Talk about a fascinating read.  Roberts has written a book that details the history of how American consumerism originated and has spun so out of control that our economy is on the brink of collapse.  He discusses our need to spend money on objects that bring us instant gratification and how these spending habits are not only similar to an addiction, but how we perceive them to be representative of our social and economic status.  Along with the history, are stories of people getting trampled during holiday shopping and the ways in which they manage their maxed out credit card debt.  However, the most interesting parts of the book are the quizzes included in each chapter.  These tests allow for us, the reader, to profile our own spending habits and take a look at the ways in which we are participating in America's consumer culture.   Its sort of like a self-help assessment - which, being a fan of self-help books, I was game for taking some quizzes.  Plus, its always interesting to learn new things about your self and find some solutions to help you figure out how to curb your over-spending ways (which I admit to being guilty of at times). 

Will buying something really make us happy? That is truly the question at the heart of this book and it is really interesting to be able to see just how much emotion is connected with the concept of spending.  Roberts not only examines the economic and social aspect of spending, but he also looks at the roles politics and religion play - two areas that I wouldn't have really thought of examining with regards to consumer consumption.  And along the way, Roberts does provide some solutions to help you recognize your bad spending habits and the ways in which you can work toward reigning them in.  Definitely makes you look twice at your Christmas shopping list - LOL!

Anyhow, Shiny Objects turned out to be quite a good read and I'm glad that I was able to get my hands on a copy of it.  This is definitely an interesting book that will help you look at your own spending habits and reflect on how much of a role your material possessions play in your search for personal happiness.  Plus, it makes a great topic for discussion.  I would definitely recommend it to anyone fascinated by America's obsession with consumerism and anyone wanting to explore their own personal spending ways.  
Thank you to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for providing me with a copy of the book!


Ti said...

This book was written for folks like me. I stop before running my family into the ground but I do tend to keep looking for that special something and get depressed when I don't have it. Or, quickly lose interest in it when I get it. I never thought of it as buying happiness because I am not an unhappy person in general. But, I do buy in search of something.

Nadia said...

Ti, I know what you mean. I'm the same way. I'm the type of buyer who is convinced that the new handbag I bought will somehow change my whole world for the better so I need to have it ASAP. Its such bad thinking. Or like you I'll finally get what I want and then lose interest with it so quickly that I forget all about it. UGH! And I'm with you, I always feel happy/content, so I'm not buying for happiness, just looking for something to improve things. I don't know. Its definitely interesting to look at your shopping habits - puts things into perspective - yikes! LOL!

B said...

It sounds like this a book we could all learn something from.

bermudaonion said...

It does seem that consumerism has gotten way out of control - not only do people think they have to have the latest and greatest, they think they have to be the first one with it. This book sounds fascinating.

Nadia said...

Brenna, it is. Of course, not sure if I should have learned it before Christmas shopping this year :)

bermudaonion, it has gotten out of control. Seems like everyone is rushing out to get the latest "it" gadget - its all about keeping up. Definitely was a fascinating read, considering the time of year - holiday shopping :)

Bellezza said...

I love the title of this book and your review. It's a concept I was brought up on: don't buy it if you can't pay cash; save 10%, tithe 10%, live off of the rest of your check; can happiness be bought? These principles so familiar to me seemed completely forgotten in the 80's, and are just now seeming wise again to those who have overspent. Or, found that shiny objects quickly dull. Thanks for a great review on a book which sounds fascinating.

Mrs. Fry said...

sounds absolutely interesting! i am going to check out this one.

Nadia said...

Thanks, Bellezza :) And you are so right, these are old concepts being brought back from the dead in a time when we desparately need them. It definitely pays to recycle past ideas, eh?

Brenda, thanks! Definitely an interesting book to check out. Hope you enjoy it :)

Tom Cunliffe said...

At the risk of sounding terribly old, the urge to spend on shiny new things declines with age. Now I'm in my 60s I tend to only buy things I need. I need books of course!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like exactly the kind of book most of us need to read as the holiday shopping season gets into full swing!

Thanks for being a part of the tour.

Nadia said...

Tom, books are one of the essentials :)

heathertlc, thanks for having me on the tour! Definitely a great holiday read ;)

Amy said...

This sounds really interesting, thanks for the review. While I don't buy much, I'm not so good at saving either so no doubt this would help me.