The Year of Less by Cait Flanders

You’ve probably seen a book like this before – promising to tell you the secret to escaping the cage of your material goods, into a brighter and more fulfilling life. How-to manuals on this subject are everywhere, but that’s not quite what’s happening in The Year of Less by Cait Flanders.

More than anything, The Year of Less is a really good story. Cait Flanders tells her own tale of how she navigated her way out of various addictions, including buying things to try and make herself feel better. Her journey began when she decided to undertake a shopping ban for one whole year: for 12 months she would only be allowed to buy consumables like groceries and toiletries and other essentials. Buying new clothes, housewares, books, etc. was all off the table. Each chapter focuses on a month, in which she tells the story of her most significant epiphany from that month, and how her journey was affected by that month’s circumstances. Any advice or “how-to” feel seems to happen by accident as the reader is drawn along, fascinated by Flanders’ story.

As a blogger, Flanders knows how to structure each short chapter and keep the reader’s attention with bite-size anecdotes that all build into a larger, more profound narrative. Bits of wisdom and insight are scattered throughout, and it was these that gave me a sense of wonder and clarity. Flanders knows, as she writes, that the specific advice of what to get rid of and how are less important than uncovering the emotions and habits that caused the clutter to build up in the first place. Good tidbits include: sometimes we buy things for the ideal person we’d like to be instead of the person we actually are; buying things is a way of insulating against pain, so instead we need to learn to feel things and keep on living; a shopping ban is a countercultural lifestyle and as such will face digs and doubt and peer pressure from those around you.

If you’re interested in memoirs, minimalism, mindfulness, organization, or things like intentional consumerism and the zero waste movement, this may be the book for you.

Meet the Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living

Time to start saving and doing what you want! Meet the Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living a young couple in their 30’s account of how they started investing in their future early on and at one time were even being extremely frugal enough to save 86% of their full-time salaries while working in corporate America. In less than three years Liz (Mrs. Frugalwoods) and her husband Nate were able to save enough to quit their jobs, buy a homestead property in the Vermont woods, leave the city, work from home, and support themselves through their investments and savings by being extremely frugal and thrifty. Throughout the book, the author acknowledges their privileges of both being white middle class Americans and raised by highly educated parents (interested? read more about “The Privilege Of Pursuing Financial Independence in her blog). Mrs. Frugalwoods does not curtail the reality of this and how their families and formative years played a key role in their financial education and upbringing ultimately leading to their financial freedom. Her “philosophy is that managing your money wisely enables you to pursue unusual aspirations and opens up a world of options for how to live your life”.

Meet the Frugalwoods is a real account of this small family’s story on their extreme frugality from giving up eating out or to no longer buying that $5.00 cup of specialty coffee from a coffee shop, giving up regular expenses such as make-up and clothing (interested in quitting spending money on clothes…read her clothing ban blog), using what you have or buying second-hand, to making sound economical and budgetary savings all of which are good tips for anyone looking at cutting corners and making the most of their income.  Read Elizabeth Willard Thames book and website – blog and learn how you too can start being more frugal and start saving your hard-earned money and turning it into the life of your dreams. Check it out! Learn about investing, saving money and moving yourself closer to greater financial independence.