Before I give you my lazy review of “The year of less”, I want to spend some time explaining how I “consumed” the book. As you know, I’m a huge fan of libraries (as I mentioned in the post titled “the best things in life are free”).
I usually use the library for physical books for me and my daughter, but I was very surprised to learn how well my local library adapted to the 21st century.

The Libby app

Libby (nickname for library I assume, love it) is an awesome app! you sign up for it using your library card (so you need to sign up to your local library first). Once you’ve signed up you can borrow e-books, magazines and even audiobooks. I use it mainly for audiobooks and it’s brilliant. Most popular books have a waiting list, some even have a waiting list of around 3 months. However, you can place up to 8 holds at a time, which basically means you can be on 8 waiting lists at a time. That’s what I do. This way, every week or two, I get a notification that a book is available for me to borrow.

Another advantage (in my opinion) is that you only get the audiobook for 21 days, you can renew it if there isn’t a waiting list but for the ones I read- there always is. For procrastinators like me, it’s brilliant. This feature basically forces me to listen to a book within those 21 days or else I lose it.

The Libby app logo

I highly recommend signing up to Libby and if you haven’t done so yet- to your local library first.

The year of less

I will try and write my Lazy book review(s) without giving too much away. This is not supposed to replace reading the book. It’s supposed to be my personal opinion about whether it’s worth your time reading (or listening to) it or not.

I actually found this book in the business or finance (can’t remember) section. When I read the description, it said something about a woman that paid off her debts realised that nothing she bought made her happy, so she decided to stop shopping for a year. To be honest, I came with low expectations. Maybe it was because I’ve been a bit underwhelmed by the last few books I listened to. I am happy to report I was completely wrong.

The year of less was written by Cait Flanders. She also narrated the audiobook and did an amazing job at it.

Book summary

Main story/concept

The book takes us through a year of Cait’s life, each chapter is one month. Cait realised she spends a lot of money on stuff that doesn’t make her happy. She decides to do 2 things:

  1. Declutter. She gets rid of a LOT of stuff. She shares the percentage of her belongings that she got rid of at the beginning of each month.
  2. Shopping ban. There are a few “allowed” shopping. This includes stuff like groceries, toiletries, an approved shopping list (things she knew she will have to buy soon). She was also allowed to replace things that break down. However, she can only buy a replacement for something that breaks down only if she has to. In addition, she can only replace something if she gets rid of the old one. These restrictions prevent you from impulse shopping.

Despite the book focusing mainly on her shopping ban, it seems like the decluttering is what really changed her life.

Additional thoughts

After listening to a few very numerical books about finances prior to this book, “The year of less” was the complete opposite and I really enjoyed it. She shares very personal details from her life about family, relationships, career, addictions, and her childhood. Cait used to be an alcoholic so her approach is very unique and refreshing. She looks at shopping like an addiction. She also took an all or nothing approach, because like with any other addiction- a small slip can cause a relapse.

I really felt like she was walking me through the journey she went through in that year, she’s a great writer. There was a lot to take me through as she had a crazy year full of changes.

The final chapter is a guide in case you want to go on a similar journey to the one she went through.

I don’t want to spoil anything so I’ll just say that her final career change was very inspiring. It will also be very relatable to all you FI/FIRE people (no, she did not retire). She also mentions her savings rate at the beginning of each chapter so we have that as well.

It is important to mention that this book is not about money, despite Cait being (in the past) a personal finance blogger. If you’re looking for a finance/money book- this is not the book for you. I realise the irony of me saying that after finding it in the finance section. This is what I call a “happy mistake”.

The year of less/ Cait Flanders

My Favourite part

At some point in her decluttering, she had to get rid of stuff she never used but kind of wished she did. For example, books that she bought when she thought “smart Cait” should read them. She also bought clothes that she thought “professional Cait” should wear. However, she never read those books and never wore those clothes so she got rid of them.

Cait says in her book that she realised that she used to buy things for the person she wishes she were and not the person she actually was. Now, she buys things for the person she is. I really liked this point and I’m sure that giving up on who you wished you were wasn’t easy. However, knowing yourself is much more important. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t improve or develop as a person. It’s just that the way to do so is not through shopping.


I listened to the audiobook version, which was around 6 hours long. Amazon (audible) says it’s 5 hours and 33 minutes.

Usually, I take most of the 21 days to listen to a book as I am busy with other things. This book sucked me in and I finished it in just over 2 days.


I give this book an 8.5/10. I enjoyed it so much that I had to write about it.

under 5 – don’t bother.
5 to 7 – I didn’t really enjoy it but maybe others will.
7 to 8 – I liked it.
8 to 9 – I seriously enjoyed it and probably recommended it to friends.
9 to 10 – One of the best books I’ve ever read.
10 – “The simple path to wealth” by JL Collins

I hope this isn’t just me missing non-numerical books but I really did enjoy this one a lot. I recommended it to colleagues and finished it in less than 3 days.

She is now my second favourite Flanders (after Ned of course).

If you would like to read it: please (seriously), get it from your library or the Libby app. If you insist on buying it, here’s a link to get it from Amazon. I get nothing if you buy it.

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

Final note

I just found out that Cait did a talk at Google which you can watch here. I love the “Talks at Google” videos and will watch it this weekend (between football matches) and will post my thoughts in the comments section, feel free to do the same.

Have a great weekend everyone, sign up to your local library and enjoy Euro 2020!