The Year of Less
In her late twenties, Cait Flanders found herself stuck in the consumerism cycle that grips so many of us: earn more, buy more, want more, rinse, repeat. Even after she worked her way out of nearly $30,000 of consumer debt, her old habits took hold again. When she realized that nothing she was doing or buying was making her happy—only keeping her from meeting her goals—she decided to set herself a challenge: she would not shop for an entire year.The Year of Less documents Cait’s life for twelve months during which she bought only consumables: groceries, toiletries, gas for her car. Along the way, she challenged herself to consume less of many other things besides shopping. She decluttered her apartment and got rid of 70 percent of her belongings; learned how to fix things rather than throw them away; researched the zero waste movement; and completed a television ban. At every stage, she learned that the less she consumed, the more fulfilled she felt.The challenge became a lifeline when, in the course of the year, Cait found herself in situations that turned her life upside down. In the face of hardship, she realized why she had always turned to shopping, alcohol, and food—and what it had cost her. Unable to reach for any of her usual vices, she changed habits she’d spent years perfecting and discovered what truly mattered to her.Blending Cait’s compelling story with inspiring insight and practical guidance, The Year of Less will leave you questioning what you’re holding on to in your own life—and, quite possibly, lead you to find your own path of less.

The Year of Less Details

TitleThe Year of Less
Author
ReleaseJan 16th, 2018
PublisherHay House, Inc.
ISBN-139781401954871
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Self Help, Personal Development

The Year of Less Review

  • Jenny (adultishbooks)
    January 1, 1970
    I have been a big fan of Cait Flanders for over two years now. Her story of debt repayment and subsequent shopping ban inspired me to pay off my own debt between 2015-2016. This book was the most anticipated release for 2017 for me. I rarely buy books anymore but I pre-ordered the Kindle version since I wanted to support Cait and give back a snippet of what she’s given me.I am very familiar with the ins and outs of Cait’s shopping ban and I was worried that this book was be repetitive to her blo I have been a big fan of Cait Flanders for over two years now. Her story of debt repayment and subsequent shopping ban inspired me to pay off my own debt between 2015-2016. This book was the most anticipated release for 2017 for me. I rarely buy books anymore but I pre-ordered the Kindle version since I wanted to support Cait and give back a snippet of what she’s given me.I am very familiar with the ins and outs of Cait’s shopping ban and I was worried that this book was be repetitive to her blog or the stories she’s told on several podcasts. This goes deeper and provides new content which I am relieved by. I blew through this in two days so it’s definitely a fast read I will revisit in the future (hence why I purchased a digital copy). I wish it was longer and more fleshed out since I am so fascinated by her shopping ban. Still, this is one of the better minimalism books on the market and a good, gentle easing into stopping or curbing mindless consumption. I also appreciated the candor regarding her struggles with drinking and how that weaved into her story of simply not shopping. Her voice is strong and consistent with the Cait Flanders I know from her podcast and blog so it doesn’t feel edited or written by the editor. Overall, I highly recommend this and since her story overall means so much to me, I couldn’t give her any less than five stars.
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  • Denise Logeot
    January 1, 1970
    This book is a courageous and bold memoir. Cait shares honestly her experiences on a shopping ban, but it becomes an illustration of how people can be pulled into believing they are not enough. I can’t say enough good things!
  • Caitlin
    January 1, 1970
    A beautifully written memoir and a very inspiring challenge--to clean out clutter and stop shopping for an entire year. Cait is unflinchingly honest and I am humbled by how much she shared about her struggles. Highly recommended for anyone who is interested in minimalism and memoirs.
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  • Romany
    January 1, 1970
    This was a very simple book that didn’t try to go very deep into the issues of consumerism and addiction. It floated on the surface and told a beautifully written story of one woman’s attempt to be buy less, drink less, eat less and be more organized. I loved it. But at the same time, it highlighted all the things we aren’t really and truly mindful of. E.g. This big machine in which we are only a tiny cog. The death of workers’ rights, and the rise of the gig economy. The way in which our consum This was a very simple book that didn’t try to go very deep into the issues of consumerism and addiction. It floated on the surface and told a beautifully written story of one woman’s attempt to be buy less, drink less, eat less and be more organized. I loved it. But at the same time, it highlighted all the things we aren’t really and truly mindful of. E.g. This big machine in which we are only a tiny cog. The death of workers’ rights, and the rise of the gig economy. The way in which our consumption damages the environment and feeds into slave labor. But I’m still giving it 5 stars because it was entertaining. Which in itself is part of the problem.
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  • Rachel Jonat
    January 1, 1970
    Raw, honest and full ideas for finding contentment without all the stuff. Cait has written a wonderful book about her journey with addictions (food, shopping, alcohol) and her year of buying almost nothing. While the book is written as a memoir, anyone interested in simplicity, minimalism or frugality will find many useful strategies and motivations in this book.
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  • Pat Sava
    January 1, 1970
    I didn't know what to expect when I started reading this book. I've read Cait's blog for a few years and enjoy her writing and respect what she's been doing to better herself and her life. I was shocked to read about so many tumultuous ups and downs she'd experienced that weren't shared on her blog during the first year of the shopping ban. She's a great writer and told an engaging, tough to put down story about the events happening in her life. This book is about so much more than a shopping ba I didn't know what to expect when I started reading this book. I've read Cait's blog for a few years and enjoy her writing and respect what she's been doing to better herself and her life. I was shocked to read about so many tumultuous ups and downs she'd experienced that weren't shared on her blog during the first year of the shopping ban. She's a great writer and told an engaging, tough to put down story about the events happening in her life. This book is about so much more than a shopping ban. It's about how one young woman overcame alcoholism and drug addiction, consumerism, broke negative TV and eating habits, and dealt with debilitating family and personal drama. And she did it all without breaking her promise by giving in and quitting the shopping ban. It wasn't easy, as you'll find out after you pick up her book and read it for yourself! Right? Plus, at the end, she gives step by step instructions about how to complete your own shopping ban, which I found very helpful.On a more personal note, I have so many things in common with Cait. We both dealt with drug and alcohol addiction and overcame them without AA, not that there's anything wrong with it whatsoever. If you think it could help you, please give it a try because it just might save your life. We both excelled in accounting classes in high school, took business classes in college and gave up on the idea of becoming accountants during the first semester at college. We both suffered from panic and anxiety attacks at different times in our lives. I don't hike per se but I walk everywhere. And we're both freelance writers! It's so weird and really cool having so many things in common with Cait, except I'm a 41 year old man with 11 years of sobriety under my belt and 9 years of freelancing, while she's a 30 something year old woman with 5 years of sobriety and fewer years freelancing. Plus, I live in the US and she's in Canada.Anyhoo, if you've ever wanted an up close and personal view of what it's like to quit shopping for unnecessary crap for a year (two actually), I highly recommend The Year of Less. Cait know's how to tell an engaging story to say the least. You'll have a hard time putting it down!
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  • Chris
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this book. I don’t read a ton of memoirs, but Cait’s telling of her story is remarkable in so many ways. She’s vulnerable, humble, and honest about her struggles—yet, she still finds a way to make this book eminently practical in her telling of it all.Cait has a quote that I love toward the end of the book: “whenever you’re thinking of binging, it’s usually because some part of you or your life feels like it’s lacking—and nothing you drink, eat, or buy can fix it.”People will come to thi I loved this book. I don’t read a ton of memoirs, but Cait’s telling of her story is remarkable in so many ways. She’s vulnerable, humble, and honest about her struggles—yet, she still finds a way to make this book eminently practical in her telling of it all.Cait has a quote that I love toward the end of the book: “whenever you’re thinking of binging, it’s usually because some part of you or your life feels like it’s lacking—and nothing you drink, eat, or buy can fix it.”People will come to this book for many reasons: to find out how to simplify their life; to live vicariously through someone who has minimized hers; or to find meaning beyond just buying more junk. No one will leave disappointed. With this book, the pages turn themselves. You’re going to love it.
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  • Samantha Storey
    January 1, 1970
    In her late 20s, Cait Flanders found herself in not too uncommon situation: trapped in a consumerist cycle, $30k in debt and professionally and personally, unfulfilled. So, she set herself a challenge: no shopping for an entire year.The resulting memoir, chronicled first on her blog Blonde on a Budget, follows her life for 12 months wherein she sought the ultimate goal: to become a more mindful consumer by only purchasing goods she had to have -- gas, food, toiletries (only as she ran out) -- an In her late 20s, Cait Flanders found herself in not too uncommon situation: trapped in a consumerist cycle, $30k in debt and professionally and personally, unfulfilled. So, she set herself a challenge: no shopping for an entire year.The resulting memoir, chronicled first on her blog Blonde on a Budget, follows her life for 12 months wherein she sought the ultimate goal: to become a more mindful consumer by only purchasing goods she had to have -- gas, food, toiletries (only as she ran out) -- and items on an approved shopping list which essentially consists of gifts and anything (clothing, shoes, etc.) that has to be replaced. Things she couldn't shop for: takeaway coffee; clothes, shoes, and accessories (that weren't needed); books; magazines; household items (candles, decor, etc.); electronics. "One thing debt and clutter have in common is that as soon as you start letting it pile up, it can be harder and harder to see your way around it" Flanders says, early on. I was drawn to this book in a personal effort to declutter and minimize, and I empathize with being a (relatively) young person and feeling overwhelmed in life because you think you need a certain amount money to live, or because you actually do, to amend debt, or because you're supporting other people, whatever your personal cause; also, I was (frankly) inspired by the book's main deceit: a one-year shopping ban. Flanders, as plenty of us, did not consider necessarily consider herself a "shopaholic" at least not as the term is popularly imagined (see Confessions of a Shopaholic), the same way she didn't necessarily consider herself an alcoholic or necessarily overweight, despite the seemingly tight boxes others might. She recognized things in herself she wanted to change, and set out to do so.Each month, she begins by listing how long she's been sober (at the start of this challenge, 18 months), how much of her income she's saved and the percentage of her belongings she's given away. In that way, Flanders (and readers) are able to see the progress she makes even when the numbers go up and down (percentage of income saved, for instance, takes a dip when Flanders decides to travel - but the goal is to be financially able to travel, so it's not a negative despite it's dip in savings) "Whenever you let go of something negative in your life," she says, "you make room for something positive."Just as one might imagine, it's not easy and Flanders theoretically has a leg up because she's completed similar personal challenges in giving up alcohol as well as losing weight before the book starts, so she knows, as it pertains to this challenge, "when you decide to want less, you can buy less and, ultimately, need less." During the year-long shopping hiatus, Flanders' also has to deal with a relationship ending, a job that she loved becoming the job she had to leave, and her parents' divorce, among other things -- in other words, life. It was inspiring to read how she struggled to get through these phases, how she reconciled certain things, toyed with temptation but ultimately, overcame. "I was forced to slow down," she says, "discover my triggers to spend and to overconsume, and face and change my bad habits."You root for Cait, you empathize and you see yourself in her struggle and in what she's accomplished - additionally, she sets you up with your own set of tools and tips to change your situation (should that be your goal), whether it's a shopping ban, bad habit or if you just want to make more sense of your own budgeting. Never has the world of personal finance felt so personal.
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  • Courtney
    January 1, 1970
    I picked up this title (as a selection from audible.com) because I've been thinking about embarking on a shopping ban of my own and I discovered Cait's blog (about conquering $30K of debt in two years and spending two years "free from shopping") through an online search.The good: The Year of Less is an easy, quick read. Cait's style as a blogger shines through here, but this is not a rehash of her blog, so it's fresh material for longtime readers (and it's nice to know you can find more in her a I picked up this title (as a selection from audible.com) because I've been thinking about embarking on a shopping ban of my own and I discovered Cait's blog (about conquering $30K of debt in two years and spending two years "free from shopping") through an online search.The good: The Year of Less is an easy, quick read. Cait's style as a blogger shines through here, but this is not a rehash of her blog, so it's fresh material for longtime readers (and it's nice to know you can find more in her archives at caitflanders.com). It's written as a memoir instead of a how-to, which makes it more engaging and approachable. Cait's approach to minimalism is refreshing; she still went out to eat, traveled, and made reasonable purchases - it's not a book about ascetic living, but about reevaluating the "why" behind your buying tendencies and choices.The not so good: Even though I appreciated the book leaning more towards memoir, I wish she had included more "how to" ideas in each chapter. The guidebook at the end is helpful, but it'd be nice to have more. The ending of the book felt rushed. A general criticism I have of simple living/minimalism blogs and books is that they are often written by people who are a) single, b) living in an apartment, c) working in a job that allows for a fair amount of flexibility, and d) not that interested in fashion or decor (they're also often homesteaders, but that's not true of Cait). I enjoyed reading about her journey, but in the same way I felt frustrated by Marie Kondo, I felt frustrated by trying to imagine implementing some of the steps into my own life. Finally, the book is pretty simplistic and shallow in scope and writing style, so if you're looking to be swept away by the language, this is not for you.I enjoyed it. I felt motivated after reading it. I'd recommend it as a really quick read for someone looking to start a similar project. 3.5 stars.
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  • Judith
    January 1, 1970
    What an amazing and incredible journey Flanders took to rid herself of the unnecessary to make room for what really matters most in life and create the life she wants. I commend and cheer her efforts. I really enjoyed this book and was sad during some of her challenges, but, like many of us, she had to go through life's challenges in order to know what really matters most. I love her comment that, one has to go without before one knows what is really necessary. I could also relate to some of the What an amazing and incredible journey Flanders took to rid herself of the unnecessary to make room for what really matters most in life and create the life she wants. I commend and cheer her efforts. I really enjoyed this book and was sad during some of her challenges, but, like many of us, she had to go through life's challenges in order to know what really matters most. I love her comment that, one has to go without before one knows what is really necessary. I could also relate to some of the challenges she overcame like stocking up on household goods because they were on sale and purchasing way too may toiletries. Takeaways: What I learned.Use up your things before you buy more. I will not need to buy shampoo and conditioner for another 2 years; Toilet paper for another 6 months; and bath soap for another year!
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