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The Year of Less

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
by Cait Flanders

This was a really beautiful book. I listened to it on libby while I was outside staining my porch and it really kept me going. The author decides to go on a 1 year shopping ban, I'd say for three reasons:

1) She's sick of the clutter in her home
2) She hasn't been able to achieve any money saving goals
3) She's had good results identifying and stamping out other addictions in her life, especially alcohol

At first I thought I would not be able to relate to her story because she's a single 20-something in the cool startup marketing/communications world. I have a family. This is STILL something I struggle a lot with when I read cool millenial money saving books, I feel like I'm in a weird spot. But I came around and liked the book.

She struggles with serious addictions to shopping, food, alcohol, TV. Alcohol is the first big huge one she's already kind of conquered at the beginning of the book, she's been sober for months, but still talks about the struggles of living in a world where people are jerks about it. She went from being "good at partying" and embracing that identity to realizing she did not want to get blackout drunk every time she had a glass of wine, and friends were not all supportive. She has a lot of good insights - we will all have a friend who's supportive, and a friend who's right there to help us self-destruct again. In all things.

When it comes to shopping, she made a very clear list of things she was allowed to buy - food, toiletries, cosmetics only if she runs out, and she had a few clothing items she knew she wanted to buy that year. She re-wrote her rules a little throughout the year, like allowing herself to buy some gardening supplies and start up container gardens. She snapped one time on black friday and bought an e-reader since the one she had was getting a little old, but recognized the bad place that the motivation came from and cancelled the order. It was a promising moment.

During her year some bad things happened in her life, which I think makes the book that much more genuine because we all have to deal with these bumps in the road, figure out how to be true to ourselves and our new goals.

In the end, she's realized that since she can live on a lot less money, she can quit the job she hates and support herself with freelance, which is great. It's also the millenial dream that happens at the end of all the books in this genre of financial independence. So in that respect, the book reminded me of the Frugalwoods, except a LOT more relatable, a little less advice-y.

I also related to her because she's a blogger and like me, gets a lot of benefits from using a blog to process her thoughts and get advice from comments. In the book she talks about her reports out on her monthly spending, and the feedback she gets from photos of her newly decluttered closet. So I was surprised to check back in and see that she's announced her retirement from personal blogging! She starts feeling like a "content creator", pressured to churn out posts, build community, and it's conflicting with the mindful space she wants to create in her life.

Maybe that's what happens when your blog gets huge and becomes your job, but I see livejournal as $20/yr therapy. I feel so much BETTER when I'm writing entries regularly, and the comments I get add support and advice that multiplies the benefits I get from just writing down what's in my head. It's motivating for me. I'm going to read, eat, fix airplanes, fix my house, save money... if I also blog about it I'm a hell of a lot more organized and intentional. So I can't imagine giving this up, but to each their own.

I think this is a great book about addiction recovery and looking deeper into our values. It's not a criticism of all the evil things materialism is doing to our world, it doesn't take off to a 50,000 foot view of any systemic issues, it's very much in the head of the author. but that's a great place to look at these topics.



( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 5th, 2021 02:03 pm (UTC)
The Year of Less is on my list to read because of your posts. Overall we are good with money and we prefer to live a bit below our means so we have a little cushion, but we could always do better, and now that we are heading into retirement, it's even more important. ♥
May. 6th, 2021 02:13 am (UTC)

I love reading every financial book, then joking that I’ve read them all yet still require gainful employment. But this was a nice one and a very personal story.

I still really like the Frugalwoods, it’s more advice-y.

May. 5th, 2021 03:11 pm (UTC)

That book sounds interesting. I just requested it from the library.

May. 5th, 2021 04:05 pm (UTC)
Ah, but your LJ is a quiet little place with friends, and it sounds as if her blog started to be a public place of praise and remuneration. I imagine she had the same experience as singer-songwriters who make it big: it starts out as "Hey I love your stuff, thanks" but pretty soon it's a thousand voices saying "Why'd you go electric, I like your old stuff better, can't you write another one like blowing in the wind, you are the only thing I live for so I'll just die." This is why I would not like to be famous; everyone feels they own you and can weigh in on what you do.
(Deleted comment)
May. 6th, 2021 02:02 am (UTC)

Ah. Well then count on me to stay on livejournal where the best I can do is lj viral LOL. Keeping it real!

May. 6th, 2021 03:06 am (UTC)
Indeed, Bill!
May. 5th, 2021 04:10 pm (UTC)
I've heard of other similar experiments but I imagine you need to be a certain type of person to pull something like that off.
May. 6th, 2021 02:15 am (UTC)

I am going to post a dedicated entry asking friends for suggestions... what can I do for a year, that would make for a bestselling memoir? That’s the trend! Surely I can find something!

May. 5th, 2021 04:41 pm (UTC)
So I have a question, since you mentioned the benefits of blogging. I've also blogged for many years on several different sites. But I'm always very careful to either blog very anonymously or restrict access to what I write only to people I know. I know you're not mentioning your name, but I would think you would be pretty recognizable, and your blog doesn't seem to be restricted..... Do you have any concerns about people recognizing you? Have you ever had a bad experience with people you know IRL coming here? What are your thoughts about restricting what you write, or leaving it open? This is an issue I kind of struggle with and would appreciate your thoughts. Consider it a Birthday Question!
May. 6th, 2021 02:05 am (UTC)

An early present!

Yeah I’m definitely findable if people care. I kind of count on nobody caring. It’s worked so far but I could write a whole other entry to my debate on what not to write about. Oh hey, that’s the point of the question! Good one!

May. 6th, 2021 03:07 am (UTC)
What, is Sherlock999 outing you as famis? Are you a famis person? Or only famis to some people in your field?

Only teasing. Don't tell me if you are famous, because it will spoil my natural way of relating to you.
May. 6th, 2021 03:25 pm (UTC)
ha ha, no. I think she's saying that I do not use my real name on lj, but there's enough unique traits about me that I'm probably findable. so if I ever want to start a political career this will all come out. but... shrug.
May. 6th, 2021 11:12 pm (UTC)
I always depend on the safety of being uninteresting and anonymous, myself.
May. 5th, 2021 06:48 pm (UTC)
You should get a commission. I, too, just ordered a used copy on Amazon. Your review made it sound worthwhile.
May. 5th, 2021 07:13 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry her so called friends were not supportive about her not drinking, that's not cool at all.
May. 6th, 2021 02:16 am (UTC)

It was sad. But I can see it! It’s hard to find supportive people :(

May. 6th, 2021 02:00 am (UTC)
I followed her blog years ago, when she was still freshly out of school and coming close to finishing paying off her student debt. I track my finances faithfully because of her influence. I gave up on it when she started focusing more on the decluttering as it wasn’t as interesting to me. It’s too bad she is giving up the blog altogether.
May. 6th, 2021 02:19 am (UTC)

I’ll have to check out her older posts then! Decluttering is somewhat interesting to me but I feel like Marie Kondo just mic drop won that game. I liked her book a lot, even if it got me to a pretty weird mental state and I didn’t exactly do her whole crazy program.

May. 6th, 2021 02:24 am (UTC)
I’m kind of a Marie Kondo fan. It doesn’t all work for me, but a couple of her ideas have been really helpful. I laughed at thanking things for their service, but doing so really allowed me to let go of things I was holding onto because they were gifts or might be useful some day.
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )

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