With this extra time in the house and really making it a point to focus on doing things that I love instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media, I am reading more books than ever before! One of these books is The Year of Less by Cait Flanders.

The gist of it: Almost 29-year-old Cait Flanders decided to stop shopping for one whole year. During the three years before that moment, she had paid off $30,000 of debt and quit drinking. The shopping ban seed was planted in her head after a discussion with her family about how much of their income they save versus how much they spend.

The rules of Flanders’ shopping ban are simple when you read them. On the banned list are new clothes, shoes, accessories, books, magazines, electronics, or home items. Things she could buy were consumables and the approved shopping list, an inventory of items she knew she would need in the immediate future. She was also allowed to replace something if it broke or wore out, but only if she got rid of the original item.

To add another element to the shopping ban, Flanders decided it was time to get rid of things, too. She wrote, “One glance in any corner of my apartment showed me I had more than I needed, and I didn’t appreciate any of it.” 

Flanders started her challenge on July 7th, 2017; her 29th birthday. Thus began quite the adventure for both her and her readers.

Each chapter goes into a single month of her ban. Flanders doesn’t JUST talk about the ban itself. She gets extremely personal about life events that happened both before and during her shopping ban. I think that the magic of her book isn’t just that she did what a lot of us feel like we “could never do,” but she kept it so humanlike. It wasn’t easy for her to give up shopping and buying things she didn’t need, and her words show that in the pages. 

After the first six months of the challenge, the impact it was having on Flanders’ life became apparent: she was focused more on experiences and doing things that made her happy, not on spending money on material items, despite triggers still being there. The mindset shift she experienced is obvious to readers and very inspiring!

The thing that I REALLY liked about this book is that it forced me to think about my own spending habits. I’ve always been aware of the difference between my wants and needs, but sometimes that doesn’t reflect in my purchases. I also have a lot of things like clothes that I don’t really use.

I won’t lie, I don’t plan on doing a year-long shopping ban because I don’t think I need to go to that extent. But I have canceled some subscriptions, like Netflix and FabFitFun. I’m in the process of unsubscribing from most email marketing, especially from stores that sell things like shoes and clothes. I’m also working on going through my closet and donating clothes that I don’t wear.

Overall, I highly recommend The Year of Less to my fellow readers! Not only is Cait Flanders relatable and inspiring, but her story really makes her readers think about their own decisions.

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