"The Year of Less" by Cait Flanders Book Review
The Year of Less sitting on a coffee table

“The Year of Less” by Cait Flanders Book Review

I’m sure I’m the first person ever to mention that Twitter (or X) is both a blessing and a curse. For as much as I despise the discourse that comes from the platform, I’ve also met amazing friends from it as well. Furthermore, even though I’m not spending nearly as much time on the site as I once may have, I do occasionally see some nuggets pop up in my timeline. The reason I bring this up is that I recently learned about Cait Flanders’ 2018 book The Year of Less somewhere on Twitter — I don’t actually remember where or I would credit the person responsible for bringing this to my attention. Soon after seeing it, I purchased the book for myself and read through it over the course of a weekend.

The Year of Less - Cait Flanders book cover

I should mention that, for the first time in a good while, I actually read this book instead of listening to it. More specifically, I opted for the Kindle version since it was a steal of a deal at $1.99. Perhaps this pricing (in comparison to the $16 paperback) is meant to encourage readers to refrain from adding clutter to their homes. Regardless of the reason, I bought the digital version and read the book on my laptop.

Subtitled How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store, The Year of Less is partially about minimalism, a bit more about saving money, and has a small dose of career talk. However, the point isn’t just about how Flanders managed to save larger amounts of her income by avoiding coffee shops and online sales — it’s about how her life was impacted by these self-inflicted restrictions.

Speaking of her life, throughout the book, Flanders recounts numerous personal experiences, including those that occurred during the “year of less” itself, as well as many others from before that. This is perhaps most evidenced at the start of every chapter when the author notes how many months of sobriety she has reached. Moves, break-ups, blackouts, family matters — they’re all a part of Flanders’ story. And while you might doubt that all of these topics would fit into a book of this nature, that’s where you’re wrong.

Now’s a good time to mention that The Year of Less isn’t a “traditional” personal finance book (if it is one at all). Rather than being a “how-to,” the author simply shares her stories, including the ups, downs, struggles, and benefits. In fact, the book was adapted from her blog series at the time, although she’s apparently added in more personal details and background that she didn’t make public back then. Thus, I’d refer to the book more as a memoir than a finance book. That’s not to say this is a bad thing. On the contrary, it’s one of the aspects I enjoyed most about the book.

Even if the book isn’t a “how-to,” readers looking for insights will still be able to find them. In particular, one passage that jumped out to me was where Flanders writes, “The stuff I wanted the ideal version of myself to use was everything I had once bought in hopes that it would somehow make my life or myself better.” This revelation really resonated with me as did other conclusions that Flanders draws throughout her experience.

What’s more, following the epilogue, Flanders provides readers with a few tips for planning and executing their own shopping ban. This chapter is short but effective, boiling down what Flanders learned from her own trials while also offering points of customization. So, while it may be a little strange to keep reading after the core book’s content is complete, in this case, I’d definitely recommend that you do.

Even as someone who’s fairly familiar with concepts like shopping bans and decluttering, I found The Year of Less to be truly fascinating. The structure of the book coupled with Flanders’ storytelling abilities made for a book that was not only immensely consumable but also relatable. Many readers like myself may also find it to be aspirational as the author lays out plenty of solid reasons why such an experiment is an experience worth having. With that said, even if you don’t plan to take up your own shopping ban, I think reading about Flanders’ is worth your time — and, who knows, maybe you’ll find some inspiration along the way.

The Year of Less
The Year of Less Book Review: A Personal Tale That Resonates Beyond Finance or Minimalism
4
Author
Cait Flanders
Versions available
Paperback, Hardcover, Kindle, Audio Book, Audio CD
“The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store” offers a look at how author Cait Flanders managed to stop herself from buying new items while paring down her current positions (and facing a number of personal challenges). Recounted in a month-by-month fashion, the book offers insights at every step of the way. While “The Year of Less” isn’t a “how-to” live other personal finance books, there are still plenty of takeaways to be found Flanders does still give readers some tips later on. Overall, it’s an interesting and inspiring read for anyone seeking to declutter, stop wasting money, or just live a little bit more happily.
Pros
  • A walk through the author’s year-long shopping ban
  • Additional chapter offers tips for those looking to do the same
Cons
  • Not a strict “how-to” guide

Author

Kyle Burbank

Head Writer ~ Fioney
Kyle is the head writer for Fioney. He is a personal finance nerd, constantly looking for new apps and services to test and incorporate into his own financial game plan. In addition to his role at Fioney, he's written for other publications including Born2Invest, Lifehack, and Laughing Place, as well as his own site Money@30. He also creates personal finance and travel-related videos for Fioney's YouTube channel, which has garnered more than 2 million views. Currently, Kyle resides in Springfield, Missouri with his wife of 10 years. Together, they enjoy traveling (including visiting Disney Parks around the world), dining, and playing with their dog Rigby.

Other Articles by Kyle Burbank

2 Qatar Airways Privilege Club Credit Cards

Cardless Launches Two Qatar Airways Co-Branded Credit Cards

The FinTech startup Cardless is partnering with Qatar Airways to offer two new co-branded cards to the American market. About the cards: Recently, Cardless introduced its two latest rewards credit cards: The Qatar Airways Privilege Club Signature Card and the Qatar Airways Privilege Club Infinite Card. Starting with the Signature card, it earns 4x Avios on Qatar Airways purchases plus 2x Avios on dining purchases, and 1x Avios on all...
Yendo logo and credit card

Vehicle-Secured Credit Card Company Yendo Raises $165 Million

A FinTech that offers the first-ever credit card secured by a customer's vehicle has announced its latest round of funding. About the round: This week, Yendo announced that it had raised $165 million. However, this includes $150 million in debt financing and $15 million in equity. The debt portion was led by i80 group, while the strategic investors that participated in the equity round were not disclosed. Yendo previously raised...
woman holding her hands to her temple thinking

Lessons From a First-Time Home Buyer: Worst Time to Buy a House? There Are Always Exceptions

If you've been thinking about buying a house, looking at the news lately has likely disheartened you. As CNN reports, a recent Gallup poll found that 76% of Americans believe it's a bad time to buy — with only 21% saying it's a good time. There are several reasons for that sentiment, with the top two being the combination of high interest rates and high home prices. So, are you...
The "Email" field is empty, you must enter some text to proceed.The text you entered in the "Email" field appears to be invalid, please edit it and try again
Get the Latest News Delivered to Your Inbox

A Guide to Building Credit and Increasing Your Credit Scores

When it comes to credit, there’s some good news. The average credit score in the United States has been steadily rising in recent years, coming in at 715 in 2023. That may be because, today, consumers not only have more ways to access their credit reports and scores than ever before but also because there are an increasing number of options that Americans have for building credit in the first...

2024 SoFi Checking and Savings Review

Ever since I started taking an interest in the FinTech sector, one company whose name I’ve seen pop up over and over again is SoFi. Lately it seems as though that theme has been sent into overdrive as the company has not only become a household name thanks to its stadium naming rights deal but also because of the company’s continued product expansions. The most interesting development in my mind...
Brim logo

Brim Financial Raises $85 Million as It Eyes Global Expansion

Toronto-based FinTech infrastructure startup Brim Financial has announced a new funding round. About the round: Brim has revealed an $85 million round. The Series C was led by EDC Investments while new investor Vistara Growth and returning investors White Owl Group, Epic Ventures, and Zions Bank also participated. To date, the company has now raised $110 million including a Series B in 2021. According to Brim, the latest funding will...
Chase Freedom Flex card

Chase Reveals Q2 2024 Freedom 5%(+) Bonus Categories

Chase has announced its bonus category picks for the second quarter of 2024 — including some interesting twists. About the categories: As April approaches, Chase has revealed what categories Freedom and Freedom Flex cardholders can earn bonuses on. From April 1st through June 30th, customers can earn 5% (or more) in three categories: Amazon.com, Hotels, and Restaurants. Similar to how Chase embraced a "New Year, New Me" theme last quarter,...
Rent Day

Bilt Announces Home Collection Deal for May 2024 Rent Day

For May's Rent Day, Bilt is offering a deal that will allow members to decrease their rent bill while also adding to their home decor. About the Home Collection offer: Bilt has crafted a unique Rent Day offer for May 2024. Through the 1st, when Bilt members redeem their points toward rent payments, they'll receive the same number of points to be used toward Bilt Home Collection items. To take...