Author: Cait Flanders
Rating: 4 Stars
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.
This was a re-read for me. What’s funny is I didn’t know it was a re-read till I was predicting what was going to happen next with such accuracy that I scared myself. I believe I borrowed this from the library a few years ago. I’m glad I read this again, and that I read it as one of the last books of 2022. I read an opinion by a reviewer that said they found memoirs to be narcissistic, asking why does someone think their mundane life is so important that they have to share it? I don’t agree with that assessment at all. When someone genuinely makes themselves vulnerable and shares their trials and how they overcame them, it can make others feel less alone, and engender empathy. I find empathy so lacking today- we need more of it, not less.
Cait went through similar obstacles as myself – I also paid off debt in my 20s and 30s and worked hard to do so. The struggles she described felt real, the lessons she learned were so similar.
2023 is going to be a year of change for reasons beyond my control. My husband and I said let’s view this as an adventure of sorts, a new chapter instead of trying to fight it. So I am leaning into it, using this as an impetus for positive change. This book specifically is about spending less money and using it for the things you want to do. She examines how she uses shopping to make herself feel better rather than sitting with her feelings and working through them in a healthy, positive way. She is not perfect, but no person’s journey is linear. This book offered practical advice and was encouraging.
I will probably read it again, hopefully this time I will remember.