Listen: Wall Street Journal bestselling author Cait Flanders discusses quitting spending, the joys of living differently and learning to trust yourself
Your twenties is a fun time of life but its also the decade you might find yourself learning some very tough lessons. All of a sudden, ‘real world responsibilities’ are thrust upon you – especially financial ones – while you’re still trying to figure out who you are.
Thankfully, there is always someone who treads the journey before you and can share their lessons. Wall Street Journal bestselling author Cait Flanders is one of those people. She found herself $30,000 in consumer debt in her twenties but, through strict budgeting, was able to climb her way out before quickly falling back into old habits.
Cait realised she hadn’t addressed the root of the problem which resulted in a radical experiment – she quit shopping for an entire year.
‘The Year of Less’
In her bestselling book The Year of Less, Cait candidly shares how cutting her spending, excluding consumables, out of her life for 12 months changed her relationship with money – for good.
“My debt repayment approach originally came from a place of shame,” Cait told Hope 103.2.
“I was punishing myself by not buying anything.”
However, when she stripped back her spending, Cait was able to more accurately determine her reasons for spending in the first place and create new patterns.
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“I was a much more emotional consumer than I realised,” Cait said.
When she had to “feel her feelings and get on with it,” Cait said she knew that her life was evolving into something new.
“When plans change, there’s lots of ups and downs with that. I’ve had to sit and feel my feelings and be more mindful.”
A word to those struggling with money
Cait said that although financial hardship is widespread, the experience can still be “incredibly isolating” as money remains taboo in conversation.
However, she had an encouraging word to those struggling: “Your net worth is not a reflection of who you are”.
She said debt can stem from a range of issues including a disorder in priorities.
“If someone had said to me ‘what are your priorities? I would’ve looked at money differently.”
The adventures in opting out and forging your own path
Several years on, Cait has embarked on a greater, lifelong experiment – living life on her own terms.
In her latest book The Adventures of Opting Out, she explores the joy in living a simpler life – one with intention and purpose.
However, intentional living, which Cait describes as “less impulsive, more mindful”, is unique to everyone, with no set formula to follow.
“The joy will come when you’re opting out of the right thing,” she said.
While Cait was candid in reflecting on the pain and sacrifice that comes with forging your own path – lost friendships, external criticism and self doubt – she said to not take it personally when people criticise your journey.
“It’s hard to remember, but most of the time, its not personal. It’s OK to create space between unsupportive people. It’s not easy but it’s OK.”
After a decade of growth and self discovery, Cait revealed the greatest lesson she’s learnt: trusting herself. And, she encourages others to do the same.
“No one knows you better than yourself. If you are making intentional decisions, over the long term, you just learn how to trust yourself more.”
The Adventures in Opting Out is available now. Listen to the full interview with Cait Flanders in the player above.