Round-up: Picasso and 98 things

It’s been a big week here, and we have a lot of new readers. I hope you’ll stick around! Every Friday I do a round-up of my writing from elsewhere (mostly my gig with CBS MoneyWatch), plus media mentions of me or my books, and other cool stuff from around the web. As a reminder, you can subscribe to my newsletter to get a once-a-month email featuring an original essay, plus my book reviews and tips. If you pre-order All the Money in the World, up until March 1, you’ll get a free e-booklet called “10 Ways To Buy Happiness For Under $10.” Just email me (see the contact page) or leave a comment here and I’ll get that to you.

My writing:

A quick note on CBS MoneyWatch pieces: you can find all my posts on this page. Just bookmark and refresh (the RSS feed is not as intuitive as BNET was, it seems).

What Picasso can teach you about money” — One of my favorite money quotes is allegedly from Pablo Picasso: “I’d like to live as a poor man with lots of money.” What did he mean by that, and what does it mean in the context of achieving happiness? (CBS MoneyWatch)

How much is your leisure time worth?” — I revisit Mathew Amster-Burton’s Mint.com column on whether he should have volunteered in the school library, or worked and donated his earnings. Just because it’s hard to put a value on our leisure time doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a value. We can even make decisions with a rough dollar value in mind. (CBS MoneyWatch)

Could you live with just 98 things?” — I swear, that’s not a random number in the headline! A few years ago, I read Flanagan’s Smart Home, in which she argues that a well-appointed home needs just 98 things. Not 100! Just 98. I can’t say I agree, but I look at the topic of minimalism, and why people find it appealing. (CBS MoneyWatch)

Does income inequality matter?” — My USA Today column, printed here earlier this week.

Are you as busy as you think?” — My Wall Street Journal column, arguing that claiming to be busy is just a way we tell the world we’re important. But it’s a really sad hook for one’s self-esteem. Lots of Facebook shares and Tweets on that one, so thank you all very much!

In other news:

How the happiest people in the world spend their money” — Cali’s Fast Company review of ATM. If you’re new here on the blog this week, it’s probably because you read this wonderful write-up, which I think just gets the whole point of my book. As she says, “People can feel trapped by their careers–whether it’s because they’re earning too little, are waiting for a big payout, or have grown accustomed to a certain lifestyle. Laura Vanderkam’s new book, All the Money in the World: What the Happiest People Know About Getting and Spending, offers a new approach to finances for a modern, more flexible reality.”

Money isn’t everything, but it is something” — BookPage’s lovely review of ATM. Favorite quote: “While money is often a source of stress and concern, it becomes something fun to toy with here.”

The great multi-tasking debate” — Chelsi Nakano’s take on the subject at Conspire. Quotes me. I say do one thing at once. Unless you don’t care about either thing. You probably should care about driving your car. The fun part of this piece for me is I think I get to play the role of the old fuddy-duddy!

Around the web:

Over at Mommy Shorts, Cloud (from Wandering Scientist) has a guest post on “10 toys to help princesses master math and science.” My daughter is too young to do anything with Lego blocks except stick them in her mouth, but I’m glad to see several pink and purple toys that still teach spatial reasoning, pattern recognition and other math-related skills, which I can haul out if she turns out to be massively into pink.

Well Heeled Blog asks, “When is a person financially ready to have kids?” (And links back here to the post from Monday on whether money can buy you balance). I don’t think there’s a right answer here. As I said on Monday, having an extended family network can take the place of quite a bit of money when it comes to having a calm life as a working parent. And if you lack that network, it takes quite a bit of money to approximate it.

DailyWorth points out that “More Tweets may not bring more customers.” Thanks to Cali’s Fast Company article (see above) I got about 450 new Twitter followers in two days. I’m still trying to sort that all out, and I spent a great deal of time on Twitter this week because of it. However, I can tell from looking at Google Analytics that very few people come over here via Twitter. So I doubt the conversion rate to book sales is particularly high. A friend of mine recently had a calculated Twitter campaign, having several influential people tweet about her book (like people with 500k followers) and saw very little results. I think Twitter is better for interacting with people who find you from elsewhere, and then want to continue the conversation. I will always respond to people quoting from my books on Twitter.

Money Saving Mom ventures into “Homemaking routines for the working mom” and gets quite a comment section going on how people manage to do their chores around work and family time. My general thought is to make it take as little time as possible — like carving out an hour or two on the weekends and a few minutes each night and really leaving it at that. Housework can expand to fill available space. So give it less space — or make it a financial priority to earn enough to afford help in this area. Also, The Family CEO guest posts on how she did a bathroom renovation for $800, which blows my mind. (The Family CEO blog is also worth checking out on its own).

(photo of Picasso’s Hairdressing courtesy flickr user jmussuto)



8 Responses to Round-up: Picasso and 98 things


  1. Cloud says:

    Thanks for the link! I’m planning a follow up on my own blog with some of the non-pink toys that stretch the same skills and that my girls love. I’ll probably do that post sometime next week.

    • Laura says:

      @Cloud- excellent. I’ve realized that one of the upsides of having little boys first is that the house is full of blocks, remote control cars and other such things that my daughter will no doubt play with by virtue of their being there.

  2. Arden says:

    Laura,

    I love the Picasso quote. That is so how our family runs our finances. Even better is that our 7 year old son has never had crazy amounts of toys and is happy over small things. I’m so proud of him when he is clearly delighted over something so small as Transformer band-aids.

    Nice blog!
    Arden

    • Laura says:

      @Arden – thanks! Glad you like the blog. And isn’t that wonderful that the kids are so excited about little things? I know it is going to be a hard mindset to cultivate in our competitive world, but I’m hoping I can hold on to their complete innocence for a while. They were so thrilled to take the Valentine’s day money they got from their grandmother, go to a toy store, pool it, and buy a truck. You forget that the whole consumer experience is actually kind of cool if you’ve never done it before…

  3. I hope this doesn’t sound too dorky – but the first time you commented on my blog I was thinking is that Laura Vanderkam THE AUTHOR?! :) I always find your blog posts thought-provoking.

    In my circle of mentors and women I admire, I don’t see many mothers. They seem very happy with their choices, but it’s also nice to see someone who has achieved success and is also a mom.

    Thanks for the link!

    • Laura says:

      @Well Heeled Blog – oh, *blush* Thanks so much. Not many of us Laura Vanderkams out there, which rocks from an SEO perspective. I actually had the same thought which scared me quite a bit when I was considering having kids. I didn’t know that many women who both had kids and had achieved Big Career status. I took the plunge, and things were not looking good for a bit — I had a book proposal sent to a prior publisher rejected on the day I was giving birth (helpful hint: don’t check your blackberry in the delivery room). But eventually, the kids gave me more things to write about, and I’m definitely happier with where things are now, career-wise, than I was pre-kids. I think my lack of role models was because I wasn’t looking hard enough. Finding such women (and men) was a major perk of writing 168 Hours.

  4. Kelly Damian says:

    I also really liked the Picasso quote. Here is what I’ve noticed: A few months ago I stopped watching TV during the week. Every Saturday morning I watch Top Chef on demand. Now watching TV has become a ritual I love. I have my coffee, sit with my girls and we critique food we have no business critiquing. What used to be an every day snack is a wonderful treat.

    • Laura says:

      @Kelly- what a great way to slow the hedonic treadmill. Create a wee bit of deprivation — not much, but just enough to truly enjoy something when we see it again. I feel this way about eating out. Since having kids makes it logistically more challenging, I naturally do it less (since it’s not a top priority). But that means I’m not sick of it — in a way I was starting to be pre-kids when I noticed that I was becoming a bit of a restaurant snob.