Episode 185

Spend Less Money and Make More Time with Cait Flanders

July 17, 2018

Cait Flanders, author of The Year of Less, shares how spending less money opened up more space for intentional decision-making around being a better freelancer and creative entrepreneur and living a creative life of her own making.

Learn More about the Topics Discussed in this Episode
This Episode Brought to You By:
"It's not that restrictive, it just teaches you to stop looking for more."
- Cait Flanders

Discussed in this Episode

  • The parameters of Cait's year of less experiment and how she got to that point
  • Getting out of debt
  • Living a year of less
  • How a year of less impacted Cait as a freelancer/creative entrepreneur


More from Cait Flanders

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Braid Creative

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Almanac Supply Co.


Kathleen Shannon 0:00
Hey Emily, guess what I'm looking forward to

Emily Thompson 0:03
if I had to guess I'd say your next meal

Kathleen Shannon 0:06
all true that but even more than that I'm looking forward to our annual being boss vacation in New Orleans.

Emily Thompson 0:13
Same. We still have a handful of tickets left. So if you've been wanting to join us on our annual being boss vacation in New Orleans and consider this your sign to join us for a live podcast recording, masterclasses and workshops, and an epic Abbas celebration and more with me Kathleen and your creative peers from all over the world

Kathleen Shannon 0:35
in the most magical city in the whole world, right?

Emily Thompson 0:39

Kathleen Shannon 0:40
All right. The being boss vacation is happening September 26. To the 28th in New Orleans. Go to being boss club slash Nola. For all the details.

Emily Thompson 0:50
We hope to see you there.

Kathleen Shannon 0:55
Hello, and welcome to being boss, a podcast

Emily Thompson 0:57
for creative entrepreneurs. I'm Emily Thompson.

Kathleen Shannon 1:01
And I'm Kathleen Shannon.

Cait Flanders 1:02
I'm Kate Flanders and I'm being boss.

Emily Thompson 1:10
Today we're talking about spending less money and making more time with Kate Flanders. As always, you can find all the tools books and links we reference on the show notes at WWW dot being boss dot club.

Kathleen Shannon 1:25
Hey there bosses, we know you're getting a lot of stuff done, you're checking off those two dues and wearing a lot of hats in your creative business. But just because you can do it all doesn't mean you should take accounting. You know it's an essential part of your business. But becoming a self taught accountant is only going to distract you from what you really want to be doing all day. Fresh books cloud accounting will allow you to save your time and energy on administrative tasks by making keeping track of your books ridiculously easy. freshbooks keeps your money organized with easy to use features like invoicing, time tracking, creating estimates, tracking expenses, late payment reminders, project collaboration, online payments, and so much more. So whether your creative career is still a side hustle or you're fully supporting yourself with your entrepreneurial endeavors freshbooks makes being boss a whole lot easier. Get a free 30 day trial of fresh books right now. Go to freshbooks comm slash being boss and enter being boss in the How did you hear about us section? Hi, Kate. Hi, we're so excited to have you on the show.

Cait Flanders 2:34
Oh my gosh, this is like a dream and also just really exciting. So thank you so much for having me.

Kathleen Shannon 2:39
So you read a book called The year of less, I devoured it in an entire weekend. It was like one of those snowy, cold weekends. And I have this teeny tiny little reading nuk i have like a hot mug, a tea and I just plowed through your book.

Cait Flanders 2:56
It was so good. That's so sweet. And also something I keep hearing everyone's like, it's so funny because the book is about being a more mindful consumer and I've just been fit.

Emily Thompson 3:11
I guess there are worse things

Cait Flanders 3:13
are Yeah, it is it is funny, but no, I think it's also also in a way just like tells me that it's a topic that people want to be talking about or can relate to if they're binge eating and diving into it so

Kathleen Shannon 3:28
well. And what's funny about it is that I feel like minimalism has been a trend now, probably since the economy crashed in 2008. Because a lot of people just had no other options. So why not make it trendy? Why not make it cool. So we've got the minimalists. We've got people like Paul Jarvis who own nothing except maybe a Porsche like we have. And yeah, I mean, there is this Marie Kondo and the life changing Magic of Tidying Up so there is this trend with minimalism, it's it's nothing new. But an even like your approach, like this experiment of not shopping for a year. I feel like a lot of people are really jumping onto challenges to hold themselves accountable. But it's almost like you blended all of the things you blended a personal challenge. You blended minimalism, and then through it uncovered this deeply resonating story and lesson along the way. So let's, let's hear you talk a little bit about what you learn from this. And maybe let's start by setting up by sharing with our listeners, what you did like the parameters of the experiment, and then go from there.

Cait Flanders 4:39
Yeah, so it's funny because looking back or like when I started, I had no idea what I was doing. And I definitely had no idea that it would end up being such you could say like a life changing year. I never ever, ever thought that and I also think that was the best part of it. It's like It was just this thing that I decided to do, because I wasn't happy with how I was spending my money and how little I was saving. So to like back it up, I could say I've been blogging or writing about my personal finances online since 2011. And I started back then because I was maxed out with close to $30,000 of consumer debt. So not even student loans like nothing, nothing good for me. Like, I straight up from the time I got my first credit card, just used it like it was extra money or just used it to basically afford the lifestyle that I couldn't really afford. and ended up when I was 25 years old, being maxed out. So I started my blog as a ski real quick,

Kathleen Shannon 5:44
what kinds of things were you buying? And how at 25? it? Was there Pinterest? Was there Instagram, like retraining, keep up with the Joneses like what were you spending your money on?

Cait Flanders 5:56
So I mean, good question. I don't think Pinterest was around yet, or at least that I wasn't using it. But that's a good question. I think that if I really look back at my spending, I was someone who just said yes to everything. For the most part. So yes to every invitation to like breakfast, lunch or dinner or drinks or coffee. Yes to going shopping. And even if that meant I didn't buy a lot. I could buy like one thing. But just Yes. I always said yes. And I would I definitely like was a bit of an emotional spender, at least like in two instances, I can look back and say that. One was I went through a really awful breakup when I was like 2324. And probably spent, like, let's be real, I probably spent like three grand and like a month, like put it all on credit. And also a couple months later financed a new car. And it wasn't really expensive was like a $15,000 car. It wasn't like 40 or 50. It wasn't a Porsche, it wasn't palsy. It was definitely just me thinking back then that as long as I could afford the minimum payment, I could say yes. And then you get to a point where you can't, or like I could afford the minimum payment. But I was that was it. Like when I was maxed out, I had $100 left in my checking account. And $100 left on one of my credit cards. And that was it. I had to make that last me six weeks. So

Kathleen Shannon 7:25
and that's when the money became real,

Emily Thompson 7:27
right. But I also feel like this is not an abnormal situation that you found yourself in where I have heard from so many people and I even remember, like, super early, like my first credit card, like the stupid shit that I was buying on it. And I was lucky enough that like, I had people in my life that helped me like cut the cord super soon, like $300 and not $30,000 in. But I feel like this is this is a really normal situation that a lot of people find themselves in, especially in our generation, like we we were the first ones to have access to things like credit cards and lines of credit that early in our lives. And we didn't have people around to educate ourselves. Do you? Do you see moments in like earlier in your development that either did or did not prepare yourself? Are you for that situation?

Cait Flanders 8:22
Well, it's sort of not I guess, kind of be naked. And that when I tell people this, like not everyone can relate to it. But I actually grew up in house where my family talked about money all the time. And like my dad was the kind of person who he used to literally cut out articles about like retirement savings accounts or things like that, and like from the newspaper and leave them on my bed for me for when I got home from school. So I would come home and see these things, all of my bed. I'm like, Oh my god, I'm not reading that. Like, like 14 1516 years old, like I'm not interested. But my parents talked about money all the time. Even just things like I knew how much they paid for the house. I knew how much they earned. I knew how much things cost like I remember going to the grocery store and it's like okay, family five you look at the bill like I I knew all of those things. And yet I still went on to make mistakes. So there is something for me that I think is no matter how much Yeah, I don't know like no matter how much we're taught about it no matter how much people tell you like the right things to do. You kind of need to get some experience that with your for yourself, and like make your own mistakes because even that like my parents weren't, they weren't just like born to be amazing with money. They went out and made mistakes and then got better at it. And so they were just like trying to share all their better things. And I'm like, Okay, well I still have to go make mistakes and then I'll learn better to

Emily Thompson 9:55
write and it sounds like you did learn better. I mean, you found yourself in a place where You were $30,000 in debt and you decided to make a change.

Cait Flanders 10:05
Yeah, so I started my blog back then, like in 2011. And it was totally anonymous. I didn't want anyone in my real life to know how much debt I had. So I didn't tell my family I didn't tell most of my friends. Like I told my best friend Emma, and that was basically it. But I started blogging and my blog back then was so awful like it was imagine like if you were trying to track your workouts or track what you're eating, like, literally all I was doing was tracking my spending. And so it would be like Monday, I spent $2.91. at Starbucks,

Kathleen Shannon 10:38
I feel that this would be my favorite blog to read ever. Like people still do it. I love that I love just like the, you know, nitty gritty details, like, let's get real here. Okay, and so then what did that do for you? Did the blog get you out of debt? Like, what? What happened next?

Cait Flanders 10:58
I think that having the blog helped me stay accountable to myself. That's what it was always meant to be like, it was just kind of my spending journal the same way you'd have a dieting journal or something like that, like it was just a journal for me. So it definitely helped me figure out some of my spending, like number one, by tracking my spending, I started seeing where things were going. And I was like, Oh, I actually don't feel that great about how much I'm spending on X, Y, or Z. So I just started naturally cutting back. I also started getting some readers. And then so then I had people to stay accountable to. And yeah, so in 2013 paid off my debt. So I finished it. It was two years. And I actually had all these thoughts of like, why should just delete my blog now like, that's, it's served its purpose, like, that's what it was for. But I kept it going. And I was like, setting these new goals for myself where I was like, I want to save 20% of my income, which should have been very doable based on all my numbers. But instead, every single month that I was debt free, for the first year, I found I was like, basically spending all my money. So I didn't go back into debt. But I was like, lucky if I was saving 5%. And I would just like be reading this blog post being like, Hey, guys, so here's all the reasons I'm going to justify to you why it's okay that I spent 95% of my income, but it never felt good in real life. And it never felt good writing those posts.

Kathleen Shannon 12:20
So one of the things that I loved about your book, too, is that you are getting out of debt. And it's not like you all of a sudden landed a six figure job. It's, it was all very modest, right. And so I would, I would love to hear kind of your take on that, like how you don't have to have a windfall or be loaded or even just make more money because for me, even as a creative entrepreneur with the unlimited potential to make as much as I want sometimes I'm like, Well, I could just launch a thing and try and have like a $50,000 launch, like if I needed to get out of debt like that. So tell me more about like your circumstance and getting out of debt on a salary. That wasn't like crazy.

Cait Flanders 13:02
Yeah, I mean, there's two parts to this like so one, I can say I'm looking back I think I was pretty extreme about it. Like I'm just very aggressive I I just remember this feeling of realizing I was maxed out being like so ashamed and so worried that I had ruined all my chances that having a strong financial future. So and it just felt so awful, like that weighed on me so heavily. So I became like obsessed with getting down to zero. I wanted it all gone, which I think was a great motivator. But the problem was that I just was really hard on myself that whole time like I didn't say a lot of kind things to myself, I was so just, like mad and ashamed and felt guilty all the time. So I was I was like too hard on myself when I paid off my debt. And I actually think that's one of the reasons I went back to spending my money is because I just didn't really take the time to learn any lessons. But I will say I mean I cut back quite drastically I didn't really travel or like go away for any weekend getaways like anything like that. Gosh, what else did I do? I I started saying no a lot instead of saying yes. But I also changed a lot of things like activities that my friends and I did so instead of always going out it became a lot more of like I'm super lucky to live in like one of the most beautiful parts of the world like why don't we go for a hike or go down to the water or something like that. And and so I actually feel like my friendships grew a bit but me personally like being that hard on myself and having no sort of fun money in my budget wasn't healthy. I also will say that I wish I had saved more. Even just like a little bit like even if I just had 1000 or $2,000 cash around like if I needed it because I didn't like when I finished paying off my debt. I maybe had $500 in the bank. So that whole time, it's like I was forcing myself to live paycheck to paycheck, which is, I mean, again, I reached my goal. But the goal was a little bit arbitrary. I didn't need to do it in two years. Like that was just something I set for myself. If I, if I could go back part of me is like, I think I would have done it like two and a half years and just saved a little bit of money, something that would help me sleep at night. Because that's what I have now. Like, now I have a mouse where I'm like, if I have less than, like, these 1000s of dollars, I like literally can't sleep. Like I don't know how I did it back then. Okay, so

Kathleen Shannon 15:32
then what prompted then the year of less like, how did you go from getting out of debt to spending 95% of your income to then deciding, oh, hey, this is it.

Cait Flanders 15:43
So it's sort of funny, because there was, again, a conversation with my family that like prompted it. But I will say, first, keeping in mind that this is something I've been thinking about every month for 12 months in a row writing these monthly budgets, where I'm like, Hey, guys, like I don't feel good about the fact that I've barely saved anything. But here's the reality, these are the numbers. So kind of for all year, I'm having those moments of being like, I know, I can do better, but I don't know what that looks like yet. And then had this conversation with my family where my sister who is she was 20 years old at the time, and I'm like, about to turn 29. And she's living at home, going to university full time and working part time. And she tells us, she bought something that was like $500. And so we're kind of bugging her being like, oh, like you shouldn't spend all your money, like you've got school to pay for like, that's why you're at home. So like, you've got to deal with that. And she goes, Yeah, but like, I save 20% of my income. So I can do whatever I want. Like, Oh, my God, was my sister's saving 20% of her income on her part time job while she's in school. And I can't do that making a decent salary. am I'm almost 29 like, How can I not do this? So first, I'm thinking about that. But then the words out of my mouth were Yeah, but you live at home? Do you really need 80% of your income? Or could you live on less? And then it's one of those moments where like, you don't hear what anyone else says. And you're just like, Wait, how have I never said those words to myself? Like, do I need 95% of my income? Or could I be living on less than that. And so from there, I was just like, okay, like, the wheels started going, and I'm like, I've got to try something different. I don't know what that looks like yet. So I'm I'm sort of throwing different things around, like maybe I do something where I just don't spend extra money here or extra money there, I don't know. And then I just kind of let that sit for a couple weeks, I'm paying more attention to like my surroundings and my home and my life. And I'm like, okay, like, looking around my home, I really don't need anything. So what if I do something where like, I don't shop for a year, like I can't buy anything new, I can't bring anything into my home. And that's like, I absolutely need it. And on top of that, I'm going to cut out takeout coffee. And totally like, I am not one of those personal finance people who be like, you can't have your $5 latte. I drink I drink a $5 latte this morning. So you can do whatever you want. But for me back then I was not happy with how much I was spending on it. Like it was still just this habit that I was spending a ton of money on. And I was like, I would rather get to a place where coffee feels more like a treat. And so I will not buy that for a year. And that was sort of it now, it's funny, because that still sounds really restrictive in some ways, and I got insulted this day like get sort of pushback on that of like, oh, it sounds like too harsh, too restrictive. I think there's part of it. Like it's like the word ban. And like, like, I'm not a branding expert, I should have called you guys like if I could have done it somewhat differently. I think what I would call it now is more like a browsing ban. Because at the end of the day, that's the biggest habit that I changed that year, at least shopping was, is I had to just stop looking around. Because that my my realization that every one of them throughout that year was like, if you stop looking, you will stop finding things to buy. Right. And like I buy lots of stuff like when I need it now. But I wish I had called it that because that would sort of now set the tone of like, it's not that restrictive. It's meant to just stop looking for more.

Kathleen Shannon 19:22
I have two thoughts about this one. Yes, it's restrictive. Yeah. Yes, it is. But that's what I needed. And I'm kind of one of those like all or nothing kind of people so I do better under really strict rules of all or nothing. And then two is the browsing ban. That is one of my biggest takeaways from your book. And one of the things that I do instantly now is if I do buy something, for example, I just bought myself some Nike Air Force ones I've had

Emily Thompson 19:54
about those for weeks.

Kathleen Shannon 19:56
So I really bought them kind of almost even as like a book gift to myself, like I did this thing, I'm by myself pair of shoes. So I bought the Nike Air Force ones. And whenever you check out, you'll notice that you were always giving your email to wherever you're checking out, right. And this is online, because I'm doing online shopping. As soon as I get the email to my inbox that like your order has been received, or shipping it, I hit unsubscribe, because they're gonna keep selling you things over and over and over again. So for me even just unsubscribing like not even a browse ban, but like unsubscribe. And I also wonder if this is why people are so sensitive to, you know, even advertising an Instagram and it's hard because even if you're not watching TV or commercials, or you have the things blocked in your browser or your unsubscribing, like you're still getting it on Instagram. So I think it is a good muscle to develop, just keep scrolling right past it on, I think you'll get it everywhere.

Emily Thompson 20:57
And it's only going to get worse. Like as the world becomes more like techie. Like you're going to be walking into stores and having things buzzing in your ears about what it is that you need to be buying, because of the last 15 times you've been in the store. Like we have to start stretching these muscles now because it's not going to get easier. Yeah, no, I

Cait Flanders 21:19
think you're right. It's even all kinds of different trends that we are seeing are like, even ones that people they see, but I don't think they get it yet. like Instagram listens to you. If you have if you give Instagram access to your microphone, it listens to you. So I'll hear from friends. They're like, Oh, like Instagram got me. You know, I saw that ad a bunch of times and I eventually bought the thing and I'm like, it's not that Instagram like got you it's that they literally have been listening to you and or seeing that you've been interacting with that ad in some way. So you have to just be aware of what what is happening and that it's very much like sweat.

Kathleen Shannon 21:52
I will not have the phone in my bedroom while I'm doing it. Because you don't want to know this stuff you're gonna see. With the internet listening to us, I'm like, Oh my gosh, the internet is hearing 300,000 of them I am besties about word ever. Okay, but Okay, back to the year of less so clear. I want to make it clear to our listeners that it wasn't like you weren't buying anything. Like when my favorite documentaries is no impact, man. We're like he's really making no waste. So it wasn't like that. You're still buying groceries. I think that you gave yourself like three things like maybe you needed a new mattress. Like you had like an exception list. And it was very minimal.

Cait Flanders 22:53
Yeah, I mean, so if I broke down, I kind of wrote three lists, like one is things you're allowed to buy, obviously, groceries, I could put gas in my car, toiletries like but it had to be something I run out of and actually use. So if I run out of my moisturizer, I'm absolutely about to buy allowed to buy more and moisturizer. That's fine. So anything that I actually used and ran out of Goodbye, I was also allowed to buy gifts for people. People keep asking me about that. And I'm like, Yeah, like if buying gifts that you want to be able to do that do that. I didn't want anyone else to be impacted by this, I wanted it that I wasn't bringing more stuff into my home that I didn't need. So it could still do that. And then the things I couldn't buy was long, but because I truly like just looked around my home and literally looked at things being like I need more of this. I don't need more of that. So like things like clothes, shoes, accessories, books, magazines, electronics. But again, like if something came up, and I really needed it, I was allowed to buy it. Like Actually, I'm someone who I've always sort of actually been this way I only own one pair of jeans. And that year, my jeans wrapped in the inner thigh which like I think all women can relate to at some point with a pair of jeans that has happened. And you can't really fix that or like you can fix it temporarily but it does not last. I attempted to fix that twice. And I was like, No, I'm just going to buy new jeans. And then there was a list of a few things I could buy because again like looking ahead saying I was gonna do it for a year. I was like okay, like I I wanted to buy a new bed if if I could save the money for it because my dad was so old. It was like 13 years old and I probably should have replaced it like your nine but had kept it going. I was like no like if I can save the money I want to do that. I had five weddings to go to that year. So I was like I need an outfit for all the weddings. I will just wear it to all of them. Gosh, there are a couple other little things but it was just stuff that Looking ahead, I knew I would probably need so if I found myself in those situations. I buy those things? And what was the biggest surprise during your year of less? Um, actually, it's I mean, there's probably a bunch of different ways I could answer this. I think one of the biggest surprises was that I didn't think anyone would care, in the sense that like, I didn't think my family or my family didn't really care. But I didn't think my family or friends or like anyone kind of in my regular life would care. And no one, I guess, like, cared that I was doing it. But something I realized is how normal it is for us to talk about shopping. It is part of so many conversations, like, Oh, I just bought this Oh, I just got a deal at this place. Oh, I imagine like commenting like, Oh, where did you get that thing? Like, we talk about the things that we've purchased a lot. And I really didn't realize that until I'm standing there in those conversations being like, I have nothing to bring to the table right now. I have no stories to share, I have no deals to tell you about or anything like that, instead of kind of like, you need to buy those things. Why are we talking about this? Interesting. And I, I think like I know that that happens when you make a decision. That's sort of countercultural because I quit drinking when I was 27, actually, when I was paying off my debt. And it's the same thing like drinking is very normal. So it's very normal to be part of a lot of conversations where you're like, Oh, I I have nothing to say here anymore. I can tell you old stories. But like I have nothing new to add. And so I knew that it's even like I've been vegetarian on and off before and like people have comments to make when you don't eat meat. Like it's just, there's always something or there's always kind of a moment where you do feel like the odd man out. But I I really didn't realize how much we talked about it until that year.

Kathleen Shannon 26:49
So then did it force you to talk about other things? Did it force you to think about other things rather than what you were going to buy? Like, I'm so curious about the amount of space that this opened up? And even like, do you think that it contributed to your entrepreneurial journey? Like, tell me more about like, what, what resulted from this?

Cait Flanders 27:08
I mean, Oh, my gosh, there's so many things. I'm so excited to have this conversation with you guys, because it's one I haven't really been able to have anywhere. So I'll start by saying that like it definitely in like, even just the first few months, because at the same time I started doing this, I also started decluttering and getting rid of a lot of stuff. So even in just the first few months alone, I got rid of like 50% of my belongings. And by the end of the year, it was 70. Now I would say it's probably closer to like 80%. And I don't keep track anymore. I kept tracking the beginning because I'm I love numbers, and I'm weird like that. But yeah, so I think like, even in just the first few months, I realized that number one by removing my focus or just shifting my focus from like, always kind of looking at what more I could add to my life, I now was like, Oh, I actually have a lot of time and energy and space like right in front of me that I can be focusing on things right now. Rather than be constantly looking ahead or looking for more. And so I definitely noticed upfront that I very quickly, sort of let go along with all these belongings let go of these ideas of like this other version of myself that I might ever become. So I just had all different kinds of creative projects that like I thought I would do one day like I'm magically going to be this amazing photographer one day or like a scrapbooker, all these things. I'm just like, let it go. Because these were things that I had owned some of them for up to like eight to 10 years and literally never touched any of it. Like it was like I would just buy it thinking like, oh, because I own it. Now I am this person. It's like no, no, like the value comes from actually using the thing, learning making mistakes, like getting messy with it, and never did that. So I was like, I had to let go of all of that. And then kept like, as I was doing that kept moving towards like, Oh no, I'm a writer, I can just focus on my writing. And so not only was I focusing on my writing, like for my blog, but I also found I started picking up more freelance work. And that was awesome, because like, it was something I think that in years before I'd always done like a little bit like I got freelance writing jobs, basically, as soon as I started my blog, like within just a few months. And it was really neat to see that I actually did have time and energy to do more of that I really had sort of put this pressure on myself for like, always felt like I didn't have the time for that. Like I could only manage kind of as bare minimum amount. And then I was like, Oh no, actually I have a lot I can do more.

Emily Thompson 29:41
And so was it was this time freed up from not shopping or was it time that or was it like some other mindset shift that happened?

Kathleen Shannon 29:49
I know I kind of think of like, Emily, whenever you and I are talking about resources, you know, whether it's in like, our CEO day kid or whether it's in our book or wherever we're talking about resources like We are constantly thinking about how we have limited resources. And for us, it always comes down to time, money and energy. And I think that those three things are intricately, like woven together in ways that we don't even know or understand. And I feel like because you unlocked the money, one, maybe it somehow unlocked the other two as well being energy and time.

Cait Flanders 30:24
I agree. I think that I didn't understand it in the moment. And I think only more recently have really started to figure this out. So let me see if I can explain it even I think a little bit of it was like, I'm no longer browsing, which also naturally has just meant like even looking at my computer a little less, or looking at my phone just a little bit less. So then you do have more time. But I also think that it really was mindset stuff in that because I wasn't looking for anything else to sort of occupy my time, I could finally like laser focus a little bit more on what I actually wanted to be doing. Whereas I think, because I had no goals before I was just kind of like, floating around. That is why I was mindlessly spending my money to write like, it's just like, if I didn't have something to actually be working towards it. So you I don't know, there's no marker of what to say yes or no to. Because there's like, sure, whatever. I can do anything. But once I actually started to set certain goals for myself, I was like, Oh, no, like, that makes it easier to say yes or no to these things, because I'm working towards this. And so to not be shopping like that was just sort of one No, but it freed up, I guess like all those things time, energy and money to then be able to like figure out what I actually wanted. And then to start saying yes to things that would move me towards that. So it was it was just so interesting. Like I said, in the beginning, I had no idea anything was going to shift really, for me. I'm just like, Oh, I'm gonna get to the end this year, and like, save some money and like not buy some stuff. Like, it'll be great. What ended up happening throughout that year, though, was that, so I'd say like, by January, February of that year, I should say I started in July. By January, February, I realized I was really unhappy in my day job. And, and I mean, all kinds of reasons. I think it was such a great career move for me to make to take that job, I basically got that job because my then boss used to read my blog and asked if I wanted to go work for her. And it was a financial startup. So it was like, all kinds of things were perfect about it. And I've like created amazing relationships, like lifelong friendships with people that I worked with there. But I wasn't growing anymore. I wasn't challenged in any way. Writers will get this like basically everything was for SEO, which like you can only do for so long. And yeah, so then I was like, I'm really unhappy to my job, what can I do and, and then I sort of realized I was already making the exact amount of money to cover my living expenses, just through freelance work. And so then because I was saving some money throughout the year, all of a sudden, like became a possibility to quit my job. And so then I was like, okay, like, I would like to actually have a financial goal here. Rather than just like spend less and save more like actually really want to save up like four to six months of my living expenses, why not work and quit my job. And then like, the last half of the year became so focused on like, save, save, save, save, save, so I can quit my job. And so the last half honestly was like, pretty easy. like everyone's like, how did you finish the shopping ban? I'm like, Are you kidding me? Like it was so easy in the last few months because I was just like obsessed with quitting my job.

Kathleen Shannon 33:45
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Emily Thompson 34:31
One Do you think that the career change came from? Do you think that it would have happened if you hadn't been doing this this experiment? Do you would you have become as like discontent in your job if you hadn't if you hadn't been doing this?

Cait Flanders 34:48
So discontent I think was always going to happen because I have definitely been feeling that like in little increments before. I think that it definitely fast tracked the chance to quit. But it was interesting. Even when I first thought about quitting my job, all I was thinking about was like, I will move on to another job. I never, I still wasn't really thinking about quitting to go freelance. So I was still like looking at job boards and stuff like that, like trying to figure out what else was out there. And I had sort of a list of criteria of what that might look like, what the dream job would be, for me, realizing none of it lined up really, or I couldn't find anything that had all the things. And actually, like, this is really weird. But you guys watch the podcast at the exact same time that this was happening.

Kathleen Shannon 35:37
So did that just for you.

Cait Flanders 35:40
So it was pretty long, because you launched in like January of 2015. Yep. So that was like, exact same time when I knew I definitely want to quit. And magically, this little podcast popped up into the universe. And there's a line actually, in the book where I talk about how one podcast in particular I was listening to, and I would find at the end of every episode, my place was super messy again, because it'd be like covered a notes of like different things that I could do, or things that could propel me forward, at least in the direction. And I think it was the first time that I really realized that I was sitting on something like my blog was a resource that could help me make money. So actually, in April of that year, so like, just a few months before the shopping ban ended, I launched my first digital product. And like, I set a goal and like, I'd love to make like $2,000 in the first week, and I did it and was just like, Oh my gosh, like I can actually make money through this thing to like on top of freelance. And so yeah, I will just say like, thank you to you guys for actually, like watching at the exact same time.

Emily Thompson 36:48
Amazing. So I'm even wondering, I'm even wondering here, if like the process of creating this goal, getting halfway through it wasn't like an impetus to push you towards not getting another job, but instead doing freelance, do you and I just rephrasing the question, I guess that asked a minute ago, like, was that the cause of you making that choice? Like, would it have been the same if you hadn't? If you hadn't started this project and successfully seen your way through it six or seven months into it?

Cait Flanders 37:25
Yeah. So I definitely think that without the shopping ban, like without the experiment that I was doing, I would never have felt comfortable quitting to go out on my own. And that is pretty much like because of the finances. So I will say like, remember, at the start of the year, I was living off like 95% of my income. But by the end of the year, I lived on an average of 51% of my income. And that meant that I had, like, I had to earn less to at least be able to take the chance to quit. So I was like, Okay, I'm and if you guys want real numbers, like my living expenses, back then were about 2100 to 20 $300 a month. And I was already making that through freelance work. So I was like, okay, like, I've proven I can at least make the living expenses, I also need to earn more, because I need to save for taxes. And I like to travel. So like I need more money. But like, I think I can do this. And so then like once I made the decision, which truly like if I hadn't been doing the shopping ban, I think I would have been living off 95% of my income forever. And so I never like I never, I don't know, I think it would have taken a lot longer for me to feel comfortable to make that decision. Because I would have needed so much more money on a monthly basis to be able to do it. But because I cut back and then figure it out like every single month, my living costs were about the same. So throughout the book, it kind of looks like my living expenses go up and down, like percentage wise, but that's because some months I would spend like I would earn more through freelance for starters. And then I would spend more on travel or spend less on travel. So it was sort of like a, like a, it was sort of like a roller coaster, up and down of what it looked like every month. But my living expenses were like this flat out like 21 to 20 $300 a month. And so I just I needed to make that and then started doing the math and being like, okay, like if I could make maybe like 5000 a month that'd be sweet, like I could happily live off of that. And I would be solid whereas before I was just blowing money on I don't even know what

Emily Thompson 39:36
I want to talk for a second about the money tracking. Where are you tracking your money at all like before, like whenever you are racking up your debt. How are you tracking it during the phase of you're still spending all of your money versus how you're tracking it during the year of last and afterwards.

Cait Flanders 39:55
It changes all the time. So before like when I was racking up my debt I had never tracked my spending in my life. The way that I used to budget back then even was literally, I would pull like a sticky note off a pad and write down the amount of money I knew was coming on Friday. Then I would like on just paper a be like, okay, subtract like X amount for rent X amount for bills, like minimum debt payments, whatever I would see, I would have maybe like $100 leftover. And then I'm like, Okay, perfect, and like, everything else is going on credit. And so I never tracked I just did these like posted budgets that proved I didn't I like I didn't have enough money. And so I kept using my credit cards to make up for the rest.

Kathleen Shannon 40:37
Did in my early 20s, the posted what I called intuitive banking. Oh, I feel if I had money or not.

Cait Flanders 40:48
I like I like I wish I had had that or that the answer had been like, yes, you have money. Mine was always like, No, you have no money. But then when I when I paid off my debt, I started by tracking by hand. So I'm very much pen and paper. With budgeting especially, there's something about it for me that I just know, I will feel the transfer of money more if I write it down by hand. So people always ask me like, oh, like, what apps do you like to use meant to use whatever? And I'm like, No, I don't. And I've tried all of them. Like I've tried wine app, I've tried like everything. But it there's something for me, like I really need to put pen to paper. And then like at the end of every week, what I would do is like write all my spending for a week, look at the numbers. And then I would update a budget that was a proper spreadsheet, add them up and then just say like, Am I happy with these numbers? I like what felt good, what felt bad things now that I look at when I with my spending is like do I feel good about or like proud of any of my financial decisions? And that answer can go so many ways like it can be, you know, am I like things I could be proud of are like that I was able to maybe treat a friend of coffee or lunch or something. Or it could be that I paid off a bill or what like it can be totally different every single week. But it was I've always been pen to paper for the tracking part. The year of less is when budgeting shifted a little bit for me. Because I became a lot more interested in percentages, I think probably from that conversation with my sister. And like the lack of saving I had been doing so I became really obsessed with percentages. So I was still tracking. But what I was sharing on the blog every month was percentages. And so that's why that's percentages in the book just because that's that's I don't know, that's where my head was at then. And now I actually don't really budget that much at all, but I track my net worth every month. And I find actually the use of the word abundance, I actually find it helps me keep a more abundant mindset about money. Because instead of just looking at the nitty gritty all the time, I'm looking at the big picture and like making sure I'm continually moving in the right direction, which is up, not down. So if I ever have a month where something is like flat, or I've gone down a little bit, then I will go back and look at the numbers and be like, Hey, what's going on here? So it changes all the time.

Kathleen Shannon 43:19
So what are you using to track your net worth is? Are you in mint now? Or something like that? That's where I do it, because it just brings all my accounts into one place?

Cait Flanders 43:28
Yeah, no, I do. I'm still just everything in like the most basic spreadsheet I've created for myself. So it's, there's nothing pretty fancy about it. And then I just log into my accounts on the first every month and update the numbers. And then I like have a little line that's just like, how is this different from last month? And how is this different from the beginning of the year? Just to see see where things are going.

Kathleen Shannon 43:52
So I'm really curious to hear more about after your year of less ended? What kind of boundaries or habits or routines did you keep in place? Like what what change maybe even more long lasting change and what changed as far as like, Okay, I'm gonna drop that from the year of last I can do this differently now.

Cait Flanders 44:16
I think shopping related I the the most important boundary I have now is sort of that I just have to have felt the need for something before I will buy it. And that can mean everything from just like being in a situation where I've run out. Like I if you run out of toothpaste, I mean you gotta go buy new toothpaste. So it could be like that it could be last year actually I moved into a new place and I'm a big person, especially with moving is like live there for a little bit and then figure out what you need in that space because every space is different. So after living there for a few months, I realized that and this is such a silly example but like realize that The front closet like fur coats, it just like opens in such a way that it like hits a wall and you're gonna like make marks all over the wall. And I'm like, I'm a renter, I'm not gonna, like destroy this place to use this awkward closet. So instead of leaving my, like Rhett wet rain jacket on the floor, I'm going to buy a coat rack for this place. Like, I've never needed that in any home I've lived in before. But I'm like, that feels important for this home. And so I really just have to feel the need for something before I buy it. And honestly, if I look at a lot of the decisions I make now in general, that is sort of just sort of a boundary I have for like, all things,

Emily Thompson 45:35
has that become a sort of natural boundary or do something that were you still, like consistently almost have to like, hold your money back?

Cait Flanders 45:43
Hmm, that's a good question. I'm definitely not because I think that I'm, I've learned I learned that year. And just like in general, like, what things bring me joy are just like, I can't remember what the Marie Kondo thing is like what sparks joy or like, whatever, but really just like the things that I actually use, and I know add value to my life. So I will say actually, one of the things that in the shopping ban was that I couldn't buy books, I buy lots of books now.

Emily Thompson 46:12
I'm sitting here thinking about how that would be the thing that would kill me the most would be not being able to buy books.

Cait Flanders 46:18
One, it's but that was honestly that and the takeout coffee, were the two hardest things to deal with that year. And I've done interviews where people have like, laughed at me for that. I'm like, Are you kidding me? Like number one, it's not about the book or the takeout coffee, it's that those were things I had huge habits around. Right. So like I had so many habits, especially with the coffee, I did it like once or twice a day. So that means once or twice a day, you're facing a situation where you have to recognize you have a habit and then change your reaction. And that was really hard. And the books was the same thing. Like I realized that I bought books, probably at least weekly. And then I couldn't. So like at least once a week I was in a situation. I'm like, Oh my god, I want to buy that thing. Okay, I can't do like have to slow down, like figure out what I'm going to do instead. So I do buy books now. And I buy a lot, a lot of books, probably like half as many as I used to buy. But the thing now is I actually read them, like I buy things when I'm actually going to read them. Not just because like I want to read it one day, because I think that's a big thing I've learned especially with like the browsing and buying things too early is I used to buy so much stuff for this, this person I was going to be one day or this like magical time I was going to free up in the future to do that thing. And I never did. So it's so much more now like okay, no, this is actually a book I need right now I'm going to buy right now.

Kathleen Shannon 47:45
I want to dig a little bit into like the deeper you know how buying things was a symptom for something else. And then also though, how once you free up and like get to the root of that, how then there are deeper motivations that start to surface from not spending. So I know from your book, you did an amazing job of blending in your story. And really, it wasn't just about not shopping as a consumer and the problems with that. But it was about you know your history and the things that you were masking with, or you know, soothing or whatever, with shopping. And and then you come out of that and six months in, you're like, Oh, I have this deeper motivation for now wanting to quit my job. And this is like a deeper why that surfaces, it's not just getting out of debt. It's not just numbers on a piece of paper. It's this thing that you want to do. So can you talk a little bit about that?

Cait Flanders 48:46
Yeah, well, I would say that the the bigger conversation almost there. To be having is like that, I think that I used to come at a lot of things from a place of just like a lack of self worth and confidence. So even when I look back at, I mean, definitely the things I talked about in the book, obviously, like buying certain things I talked a lot about drinking and why I quit drinking, or just why it was so important, really, for me to quit drinking. I also touch a bit on like binge eating even things like binge watching on Netflix, and how certain times when I was doing those things, it was definitely coming from a Yeah, just a lack of self worth and confidence in myself. And I think that challenging myself, for starters and then seeing like, Oh, I can do a hard thing gave me then a little bit more confidence and like not only can I accomplish something, but then when there's other goals in front of me, I'm like, oh, like I could potentially do that. And then like just seeing that I could every single month make some progress towards that goal. It all helped boost my confidence actually. And that's is the part that I really never ever thought was going to come from this, right? Like, I'm literally thinking, it's all gonna be about numbers. And I'm like, maybe gonna get to the end of the year and be like, Hey, guys, I saved a few 1000 bucks or something like, how cool is that. But at the end, I remember being so afraid to quit my job, and being Oh my god, like I literally remember like, shaking like I was working remotely at the time then. And so I remember having to call my boss and quit over the phone. And I was like, shaking, I was so nervous. And the word that of her mouth were, oh, I always knew I was gonna get this call. And I was like, What? What do you mean, you always knew that. And it was, it was, first of all eye opening that like sometimes people see things in you that you can't see in yourself. But it was just one of those reminders for me that I probably had been on that track for a while. And I just really couldn't see it, I couldn't see it. Because I was so focused on other things, like I was worried about money, or I was worried about whatever. And I couldn't see that maybe I did have some kind of skill or just something to bring to the table. And when I finished that year, it was the first time that I really felt like I understood who I was. And I was still so frickin nervous. Like when I, I wrote a blog post at the beginning sort of talking about, like, how change is super scary. And I was like terrified to quit my job. I had no idea how long I would be able to make it last for. But I had done enough that like i i'd saved up at that point is about four or so months of living expenses. And I had lined up at least six months of work ahead of me. And I was like, but if I can just quit my job and do this for six months, it will be so worth it and had that confidence that like if I can't figure it out after that, like, I think I can also get a job again. And now it's been three years, though,

Kathleen Shannon 51:52
three years. Are you ever freaking out about money?

Cait Flanders 51:55
Yeah, I mean, like not freaking out, I would say Actually, it's sort of like a mantra that I have for myself now, which is if I feel like I'm about to freak out, I remind myself that I've never gotten myself into a financial situation I couldn't get myself out of. And I also sort of had numbers and in there, I don't know, internal ones for me, like they're markers that if my money's going down, like I have sort of like a low number that I'm allowed to let my accounts get to. But even when I feel like I'm with him kind of four or $5,000 of that it just as motivation for me to make some more money. And then what do you do to make

Kathleen Shannon 52:29
more money?

Cait Flanders 52:31
Oh, my gosh, well, this is a really good question. Only because again, I think it's interesting how much it has shifted when I quit my job. I was I didn't. I don't know. It's like, classic mistakes of just like saying yes to all kinds of work being way too busy working like 80 hours a week and being like, what am I doing with my life?

Kathleen Shannon 52:50
Everyone should do? Like, I think everyone should wait tables, and everyone should say yes to everything, that first year of working for yourself.

Cait Flanders 52:57
Yeah, because that is then what helped me figure out which things I actually liked doing and which I didn't. So I was slowly able to cut back certain things. I remember when I had one client, they were my only client who I worked for on an hourly rate. And when they were like, Oh, we don't have any more work, I'm like, perfect, cuz I don't want to do it anymore anyways. And then so like that freed up a little time. And so I've like slowly gotten to this place where I actually it was two years into it that I was like, actually don't want to be freelancing at all like that's like, not what I want to be doing. And I had, I've had some friends up to say like, Hey, girl, like, you're unhappy right now, cuz you're doing too much freelance. Do you remember, that's not actually why you quit your job. Like, at the end of the day, you don't want to be a freelancer for life. Like it's great that it's been this amazing stepping stone for you. But like, you don't have to do it for life. So things that I've done, like I've done five seasons of a podcast with a friend, which freshbooks also sponsored us too. So they've been great. Gosh, I one thing so I had my first digital product product that I'd launched in 2015. And I had that going for basically up until recently I also then developed it into an annual planner so it was actual budgeting planner that you could do like by hand and Kathleen we were talking on Instagram but like things I want to burn to the ground and how it like in this phase right now of like wanting to burn on my projects to the ground and it's actually that one and it's not because I don't love it I still stand behind it but it's been realizing like the direction I'm moving towards that doesn't feel like it's part of it anymore. And so what was really cool and it was pretty boss actually was that I sort of told a few friends that like, I love the planner, I love the product, but like i don't i don't think i want to do it and a friend a friend of mine was like, Oh, well I would buy that off you and I just sold it to her as a business.

Unknown Speaker 54:50

Kathleen Shannon 54:50
so that was that's so smart because like you know, sometimes I think about burning things to the ground without thinking about selling at first.

Cait Flanders 54:57
When I it was something that like I I don't know, I sort of was like, can I sell that? Like, it's just this like little thing I've been doing on the side? Like, I don't know, it does make me money every year. So I know it's a profitable business. And I would still be like, whoever bought it, I knew I would be happy to tell my people that it still exists, just that I'm not the one doing it. So I'm like, Yeah, like, I would totally be happy to do that. And so I threw it around with a few people. And I remember actually called Paul about it was like, do you think I can do that? He's like, Yeah, for sure. It's all whatever you want. Yeah, it was great. So that's something and just doing all those things. Yeah, has freed up more time. I mean, like, at this point, the book has done really well. So I would say next step now is like, I'm working on another book proposal for number two. So

Kathleen Shannon 55:44
yeah, what you wouldn't be doing full time is writing books.

Cait Flanders 55:48
Well, I mean, you guys can probably say, vouch for this, too. Like, I don't know that you do it full time. Just like, I don't think you write a book to get rich. But I did enjoy it. And it's done so much better than I expected. I just like I had, I had no idea what to expect. I had intentions for the book when I like wrote it and released it. But I had no expectations of how perform or how people would would enjoy it or would not enjoy it. Like you don't know, especially with a memoir, memoirs are so tricky, because you know that it's totally like a 5050 of whether or not people will like it. But I think it has started a conversation that I'm excited to keep having, and and to like move forward in other directions. So I'm very excited about book number two, which I mean, you guys, it'll come out in like, two years.

Emily Thompson 56:43
Right long form exciting. writing books is for sure.

Kathleen Shannon 56:48
Do you have any other experiments on the horizon? So you did a year of last? Can you imagine doing something else either to Kickstarter project? And then like, part B of this question is, how would would you recommend it for other people, like maybe not even a year of less, but structuring what they want to do more of or do less of in an experiment like this?

Cait Flanders 57:09
I'll answer that first. I think with the like, the year of last of the shopping ban, specifically, it's been interesting, because whenever people especially say, like, oh, it sounds too restrictive, I'm like, perfect, then don't do one, what I would suggest is to start tracking your spending. Because if I look back at all of the changes I've made in my financial life, like from budgeting, than getting out of debt, to then even being unhappy, sort of in that year of floundering around and spending all my money. And then during the year, it all came from tracking my spending, and like asking myself if I was happy with where the numbers were going. So if the thought of just like outright doing a band doesn't feel good, like don't do that. So think like the rules for my band, were easy for me because I could look at spending, like my past spending and be like, Oh, I don't want to be wasting money on this kinds of stuff. And I only knew what those things were because I'd actually been tracking it for so long. So I would say that experiments like I love that you asked that question, because that is what the next book will probably be about, is doing experiments, because I do think part of it is structuring it. But I also think a really big part for me is like starting before you're ready, and figuring it out as you go along. Because you can't plan for all the what ifs, I couldn't have told you all the things that would happen that year, I couldn't have like even like hard stuff, like I went through a breakup, I found out my parents were getting divorced, I could not have told you those things were gonna happen, or how that would impact my spending my emotions, like, all my thoughts, I couldn't have told you those things. So you can't plan for every single thing that's going to come up. It's really just like having at least a general list of like, this is what I want to be working towards. These are the things that I think will help me and then like, you have to trust yourself a little bit. But like when other things come up, you will be able to do it. As for other experiments, I would say that I'm looking as a whole a lot at like, digital versus analog right now. So a big thing for me has been, I don't know if I would call it like intermittent fasting of Netflix. But like sort of something like that, like I basically AM. I've decided like it's not just because Netflix is only like nine or $10 a month or whatever. Like that's not a good enough reason to keep it all the time. So this year, I've been like canceling Netflix for a month. And then like when I feel like I have time or I'm comfortable like having TV days and stuff. I'll get it for a month and then cancel it again. And that has helped me was one of my goals for this year was I wanted to read more. And so I've already read well, by the time we're recording this, like I've already read probably 12 or 13 bucks at this point this year and that's that's a lot for me just based on how much other stuff I'm typically consuming or doing. So yeah, so I would say that for now, I'm also toying more with just like, last time on my phone, turning my phone on to Airplane Mode a lot when I'm working. I have like, cut out a lot of social media. So like, I got rid of Facebook a few years ago. And Twitter is like, really on the fence for me right now. I've been sort of like checking in with it, like twice a week, like, again, just like logging out and not looking at it. So I think there'll be more venture sort of into, like, whatever the analog world looks like. But it's something along those lines right now.

Emily Thompson 1:00:35
I love all of that. And I've definitely seen lots of really good trends going in that direction, too. And it makes me it makes me hopeful, in some really good ways. Okay, what makes you feel most boss? Oh, gosh, um,

Cait Flanders 1:00:52
I think whenever I have like little moments, with free time, or something I'm doing with my time, that's for me. And I get to just realize, like, I can only do this or I do this because I work for myself. Like this is a luxury of working for myself. And so whether it's like I just took a four day trip away to the beach with some friends and like, check my I didn't check my email a couple times, but I didn't do anything. You're just like, That's amazing. And that is why I do this.

Kathleen Shannon 1:01:20
So where can our listeners find you and the Book Of course,

Cait Flanders 1:01:25
I hang out on my blog, which is Kate Flanders calm. Kate is spelled si ay ay ay t and Flanders like implanters field. And, and then I hang out on Instagram a lot. It's kind of the only one I'm still into, despite the fact that it listens to me. I'm on Instagram at Cape bladders.

Kathleen Shannon 1:01:44
Just put it in airplane mode whenever you're getting it on. Number one, my biggest takeaway from this conversation, I was just gonna say the number one tip from this conversation.

Emily Thompson 1:02:00
Thank you so much for joining us. It was a pleasure to hear about, you know, everything that you've done and how our folks can hopefully take some of this and employ it

Cait Flanders 1:02:13
in their own lives as well. I love it. Thank you so much. And like I said, I mean, I've been listening forever. So thank you so much for everything you guys have been doing. And this was just really really great.

Kathleen Shannon 1:02:25
Hey, bosses, I want to tell you about the CEO day kit. The CEO day kit is 12 months of focus planning for your business in just one day. So Emily and I have packaged up the exact tools that we've been consistently using for years that have helped us grow from baby bosses to the CEOs of our own businesses. gain clarity find focus, get momentum, prioritize your time, make better decisions and become more self reliant with the CEO day kit. Go to courses that being boss club to learn more and see if it's a fit for you and your business. We'd like to give a shout out to our partner fresh books cloud accounting, you can try it for free for 30 days no credit card needed and cancel anytime. Just go to freshbooks comm slash being boss and enter being boss in the How did you hear about us section. Special thanks to our sponsor 2020 who is offering are being boss listeners of five photo free trial to start yours right now go to 20 twenty.com slash being boss. That's the word 20 then to zero.com slash being boss to get five free photos. Thank you for listening to being boss. Find Articles show notes and downloads at WWW dot being boss club. Thank you so much to our team and sponsors who make being boss possible our sound engineer and web developer Corey winter. Our editorial director and content manager Caitlin brain, our community manager and social media director Sharon lukey and are being countered David Austin, with support from braid creative and indicia biography,

Emily Thompson 1:04:00
do the work. Be boss and we'll see you next week.