If you’re looking a book purely about decluttering and spending less you’ll be disappointed in this book. The Year of Less by Cait Flanders is so much more than that. I tried reading that cult favourite book which asks you to take every item you own and hold it in your hands, see if it sparks joy, then throw it out if it didn’t. That book didn’t spark any joy so I threw it out. The Year of Less has its own electric current and I struggled to put it down.
Cait Flanders is a well-known blogger and freelance writer living in BC, Canada. I’ve been a blogger since 2006 and a freelance copywriter for almost as long and so can tell you, it’s rare to see anyone write so openly, honestly and so compellingly about alcohol dependency, consumerism, mental health and facing and overcoming it all in a brave and inspiring way.
Cait tells us what led to the decision of starting a year-long shopping ban, how the challenge was set up, what she could and couldn’t buy and we live with her through that year, and beyond. We see events unfurl in her life that threaten to break her, we look at things in her past that have shaped who she is today (or during the period the book was written about) and we look at where she finds herself after the year of less, and beyond. This is a personal journey for Cait that she generously decided to share with all of us and in doing so offers inspiration to countless others struggling with the pressures and expectations life likes to heap on top of us.
There are many books out there which tell of how a person has reinvented themselves or found the “true them”. Some are tongue in cheek, some hilarious and some rather dark. The Year of Less offers a lot of this and yet is somewhat unique in that it is written in a refreshingly matter-of-fact way.
This is a beautifully designed book that is easy to read (you don’t want to put it down) which glows with a truth that’s hard to deny. If you’re not sure what I mean by that read it. There’s a little of all of us in Cait Flanders and I for one wish there was more of Cait Flanders’ bloodymindedness in me!
If I was the sort to hand out stickers and give people star ratings The Year of Less would get a solid 5/5.
Find out more about Cait on her website and purchase her book from all major retailers (you won’t be sorry).
Hay House Publishing were kind enough to send me this book to read and review. My thoughts about the content are entirely my own.
You only have to turn on the news or your computer nowadays to hear about how prices are rising yet incomes are falling, especially in the case of redundancies and similar. If the UK economic crisis of the past few years has taught Brits anything it is the importance of living within a budget and keeping a handle on our personal finances.
Working out a budget is important. It is easy to see how so many people have found themselves deep in debt and unable to climb out as paying for items on credit always catches up, particularly when you consider the interest rates that are being paid. The only way to avoid this type of hardship is to ensure that you avoid credit where you can, budgeting an amount for items you want or need to have.
The key to an effective budget is working out a realistic budget. A spread sheet that shows income in and bills and food out is not going to work for very long. Within your budget you need to account for things like birthdays, holidays and entertainment. Clothing and footwear needs to be included as does money put aside for emergencies. When setting yourself a long term budget you need to look realistically at what you do spend and what you need to spend or put away each month. For example, putting away a monthly payment towards the next car tax disc so that when the bill comes in you have funds ready to cover them is much more organised than having to pay on a credit card as you don’t have an extra couple of hundred pounds spare in your wages (chances in Car Tax mean that motorist will soon be able to opt for a monthly direct debit to pay for their car / road tax).
Cutting your excess spending is the first step to reducing your outgoings and putting together a budget that is easier to stick to. Consider for example whether you need Sky with all of the extras. Reducing your packages for entertainment for example doesn’t mean stopping them altogether but cuts the cost and an extra £20 a month might be used for the MOT bill or Christmas budget.
Keeping an eye on your finances is an important part of living within a budget. Using a spending diary or keeping an eye on spending via online banking will help you to ensure that you are not overspending. Similarly, try and use cash more when out and about. It is a lot harder to hand over a crisp £10 note from the cashpoint for a frivolous magazine and takeaway coffee than it is to simply enter your chip and pin code and use “unseen” money. Using cash helps you to keep an eye on what you spend and similarly discourages unnecessary spending.
Cutting the cost of all of your purchases will help you to keep within budget and still enjoy the food, entertainment items and more. Shopping online for many items does work out significantly cheaper, especially as you are able to compare prices and deals with ease. When shopping online you have to again think twice about the amount you are paying as you fill in all of your delivery and cash card details and this is not necessarily a bad thing. For those must-have or really-want items search reputable sites for discount codes and free delivery offers to again shave pounds off.
It really is easier than you think to get a handle on your personal finances, cutting your outgoings and living within your means if you do a small amount of planning and assess and alter your spending habits.