I read this book in one day -a first for me! After church Sunday, I curled up in my big comfy chair, put my headphones in to drown out the football cheers in the background and didn’t stop reading until I turned the last page.
The Year of Less is a memoir by author, Cait Flanders, about her year living with a spending ban. The chapters follow the year, month by month, as she struggles with and learns from changing her perspective on spending. What I loved about Cait’s story was that it went beyond just what she did and didn’t buy and instead delved into what she learned about herself from not giving into impulse purchases, emotional purchases and even how the ban changed how she made approved purchases.
Many buying habits are based more on and emotions and unconscious learned behavior than on needs. What happens when we are forced to pay attention to the underlying reasons for spending can often be eye opening, cathartic and even transformative.
How many coffees have I bought to feel part of the group? (I even hated the taste of coffee for months after I started drinking it. I bought it because everyone else was buying one.) How many shirts have I purchased to improve my self-image? How many avocados have gone bad on my kitchen counter because I want to be cool and healthy. And how many KitKats have I used to soothe my soul?
I think a spending ban might be a good and inexpensive, even profitable, form of therapy. I know that as I have developed a more intentional purchasing habit, I have learned an awful lot about myself. Some has been quite surprising. I didn’t realize how much my self esteem or mood affected how I spent money. Why would I think chocolate could make me feel better about myself instead of realizing that all it did was make my cheeks fatter which in turn made me feel worse? What makes me think more colored pencils will improve my drawing skills? Will there ever be that perfect skein of yarn that completes my yarn obsession? The simple answer is “no,” another purchase won’t fill my longings.
The Year of Less reminded me that I am not what I own or have the ability to buy. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to think more deeply about money and how to spend or or spend it.