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Self-help Motivational & Inspirational

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 (author) Cait Flanders

Hay House
Initial publish date
Jan 2019
Motivational & Inspirational, General, Personal Memoirs
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Jan 2018
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jan 2019
    List Price

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New in paperback: Millennial blogger recounts her yearlong shopping ban in a memoir that inspires readers to radically simplify their own lives and redefine what it means to have, and be, "enough."

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.

Now available for the first time in paperback, 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.

About the author

Contributor Notes

Cait Flanders is a former binge consumer turned mindful consumer of everything. Through personal stories, she writes about what happens when money, minimalism, and mindfulness cross paths. Cait's story has been shared on, Forbes, Yahoo!, The Guardian, The Globe and Mail, CBC News, and more. She inspires people to consume less and live more, on her blog, Cait lives in Squamish, BC, Canada, with her three loves: the mountains, the forest, and the ocean.

Editorial Reviews

"If you’ve ever felt there must be more to life than consumerism and its vicious cycle, you’ll find inspiration to break free in The Year of Less. Cait’s highly readable and personal story is encouraging, challenging, and unbelievably helpful."
— Joshua Becker, author of The More of Less

"Cait Flanders is a brave woman. As I read, I cried. But my heart also brimmed with joy. For anyone who doesn’t think they can, Cait’s story shows that it doesn’t matter where you start, only where you go from there."
— Gail Vaz-Oxlade, host of Til Debt Do Us Part and author of Debt-Free Forever

"Cait’s audacious goal—a yearlong shopping ban—has sparked a deeply personal book full of lessons for all of us on finding more fulfillment and meaning in our lives (without all the stuff!). A game-changing read for anyone searching for simplicity in our consumer-focused world."
— Rachel Jonat, author of The Joy of Doing Nothing

"The Year of Less is beautiful, vulnerable, and real. Cait’s words inspired me to be braver in my writing and life, and I’m sure it will inspire you too."
— Tammy Strobel, author of Everyday Adventures Journal and You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap)

"Minimizing belongings in my life cleared space for so much goodness to fill the space stuff once did. Cait’s The Year of Less is inspiring . . . a powerful example of how transformative downsizing possessions can be, and how you can take it to the next level."
— Katie Dalebout, author of Let It Out

"Cait comforted herself with alcohol, binge eating, and compulsive shopping, then finally said, ‘Enough is enough.’ This isn’t another book about how to live with less, but instead a heartbreaking and then a heartwarming story that shows us if we are willing to let go of the things we think we need, we can have a life we really want."
— Courtney Carver, author of Soulful Simplicity

"Creating meaningful change in your life takes significant time and effort, and in this book Cait shares a deeply intimate view into just how substantial that change can be. If you’re looking for inspiration and practical examples of how to take steps toward a better future for yourself and the people you love, The Year of Less will give you that and so much more."
— Anthony Ongaro, founder of

"This book is such a gift. A gift for anyone who’s ever wanted to change but has been afraid—afraid to fail, afraid of what we might discover about ourselves as we strip back the layers, and afraid of what will happen if we don’t. Cait writes beautifully and honestly about the work of creating a life with less, and gives you permission to step off the ever-revolving carousel of compulsive and mindless consumption and into the goodness that lies on the other side."
— Brooke McAlary, host of The Slow Home Podcast author of Destination Simple

"An inspiring story of how one woman overcame the obstacles of addiction—to shopping, alcohol, and food—to create a purpose-driven life. You will walk away ready to change your life and with an understanding of why embracing less will set you free."
— Elizabeth Willard Thames, author of Meet the Frugalwoods

User Reviews

Decent read, but stuck with me

You know after I finished this book, I was not sure I liked it. I have been very into social justice lately, and something about this book just rubbed me the wrong way. I felt that the author’s viewpoint was one of privilege, and that does not mean that it is not valid, just that I had a hard time relating to most of it.

However, I finished the book on Saturday and I have not stopped thinking about it.

Essentially, Cait stops shopping for a year, gives away 70% of her belongings and tries to save a large portion of her income. I would not call this book “self-help” and might put it more in the “memoir” category. And even though there is much I can not relate to, including stopping myself from buying take-out coffee lately and splurging on books (I already only make coffee at home and use the library) there are always points in our life where we can see we have abundance and we can cut back. This book served as inspiration for me.

I tend to be a second hand shopper, but I often shop for things I don’t need. I am a real “I am just going to take a cruise into Winners and see if there is anything on sale” kind of person. I wonder why I am still in debt, yet am such a “smart shopper”. Well, I do buy things I don’t need, that much is clear and just because something is cheap does not mean I have to buy it. I pride myself on getting good deals, but wouldn’t the better deal have been to never buy it at all?

This book did work for me then, in a way, because it has caused me to take a good long look at my own spending habits and commit to less. I am putting myself on a three month “shopping ban” and I will see how that goes. I don’t NEED anything. I have plenty of clothes, makeup and beauty supplies. Of course I will still buy food, gas for my car and I am not cutting myself off of drinks with friends, or a dinner out. Just STUFF. I don’t need any more stuff, mindlessly buying books because shipping is free or clothes because jeans are on sale, or nail polish because I see a good deal. No longer. I just want to be mindful of what I am buying and make sure I see that I already have more than I need.

I already have everything I need is my motto. And I hoping that when these three months are over I will have my debts paid off. I am almost there and I know with a little clarity it can be done.