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The No Spend Year: How I spent less and lived more
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The No Spend Year: How I spent less and lived more

3.47  ·  Rating details ·  1,027 ratings  ·  112 reviews
Michelle McGagh has been writing about money for over a decade. You'd think that would make her a whizz with her own cash, right? Wrong!

Spending with abandon and ignoring bank statements were her modus operandi. Just because she wasn't in serious debt, apart from her massive London mortgage, she thought she was in control. She wasn't.

Something needed to be done but rather
Paperback, 208 pages
Published January 2017 by Coronet
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Average rating 3.47  · 
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 ·  1,027 ratings  ·  112 reviews

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Jul 11, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I don't mean to be picky - OK, I do, really I do - but there's a world of difference between 'How I spent less and lived more' and 'How you can spend less and live more'. It's like the difference between buying a book of somebody's heroic attempt to climb Everest or buying a book telling YOU how to climb Everest. They are not the same thing.

The cover picture identifies the book as being 'I' - yet if you now read the listing on Amazon (where I bought the Kindle for 99p), the cover still says 'I'
Jul 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: library
Interesting to see the effects, particularly socially, of not spending for a year.

Random, not well ordered criticisms: It was odd that environmental concerns barely rated a mention, seeing that that is one of the disadvantages to consumerism, not much in it that was new (some frightfully not new), financials were very basic, beauty section glosses over home methods rather quickly, and there are better words to use than "boring". And what is wrong with cataloguing your spending for reference, par
McGagh is a “freelance personal finance journalist” who lives with her husband in London. It’s impossible to spend nothing, of course, but for one year (November 2015 to November 2016) she minimized non-essential spending. She still paid her mortgage, household bills, and just over £30 a week on shopping for toiletries, household goods and vegetarian food. But transportation, travel, gifts, clothing, most entertainment, meals out and beauty supplies had to go by the wayside. The author mostly de ...more
Jan 13, 2017 rated it liked it

I listened to this as a free Audible trial book. Interesting but pretty obvious and a lot of parts were completely irrelevant to those living outside the UK. I prefer 'Frugal Hedonism'.
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
I’m not sure how much of my problem with ’The No Spend Year’ is down to the book, and how much is down to me, the situation in which I live and am reading from. I do not think the author is at all a bad person - or making a mockery of poverty, as it seems some folks suggested to her. I get where Michelle is coming from, what she’s trying to do, and that she can only live in and speak from her reality, too. She really pushed herself to the limits and achieved things to be immensely proud of in he ...more
Dec 24, 2019 rated it liked it
This was an okay read. I'm reading a few things at the moment on saving money in an effort to save money and live more frugally and there are some useful tidbits in here, but for me it mainly highlighted that I need to think more about wants, rather than needs. It also emphasises how we are trained to consume and how much of it really is useless tat. I did skim some bits that weren't at all relevant to my situation and even though the author has a very different lifestyle to my own (and as has b ...more
Rose McClelland
Apr 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! What a challenge! To spend nothing for an entire year! No clothes, no gig tickets, no nights out, no drink, nothing! Only the bare essentials - mortgage, electric etc.

This really made me think about my own spending - the coffees here and there, the magazines, the clothes hanging in my wardrobe with the label still on them! (Naughty).

Listening to her challenge at first, I thought omg she is so obsessive about it. I mean, rubbing olive oil on your face instead of
Holly Dunn
May 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
I’m considering a no-spend in 2020, so I reread for revision’s sake.
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
If you have more money than sense, live a middle class life with holidays, taxis and restaurant meals this might be useful. If you already take a packed lunch to work, don’t live in London and pay your credit card bill in full every month, you will probably find this smug and annoying. Is it wrong of me to be kind of glad at the points she was miserable?
˗ˋˏ nikki ˎˊ˗
Enjoyed the read; RTC. 3.5 stars.

"I had bought things to tell people a story about who I was or who I wanted them to think I was."

Finally writing this review a few months late as now, with either potential or realized layoffs looming over a lot of people's lives, seems as good as time as ever to reflect on Michelle Mcgagh's advice for spending less and living more.

I was first introduced to Michelle Mcgagh's journey thanks to the lovely YouTube algorithm, which recommended her TedxMancheste
Feb 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
An interesting little book with some great ideas on how to spend less and money and invest what you do have more productively.
May 12, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews
I feel a bit short changed as my copy of this book was subtitled "How I spent less and lived more" meaning it is supposed to be more about a personal experience and it feels at least a third, help with your finances!

I did find the personal stuff she included interesting, and some of her advice will have helped others, which is why I gave this book three stars.

I would recommend this to anyone who wants to find out more about mortgages before getting one, or needs advice on whether to "overpay" t
Mar 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Could I do this?

I know myself well enough to say a resounding no to that question. I do need Michelle's tips in some areas of my life though or I'll be broke before the retirement ends.
Michelle gives advice that, while UK-centric, applies universally. It is also advice which do down, most of us already know. Having done the heavy lifting, now I need to follow her example and apply some rules to sections of my life and increase the happiness factor.
Rama Ramaswamy
Oct 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Michelle is a freelance finance journalist living in London who realised one day that her profession did not really make her an expert with managing her own finances. Embarrassed and disappointed with living life king-size, she decided to live an entire year without spending anything. Yes, that is right - not spending a single penny except for essentials. She paid her mortgage, household bills, and a little over £30 a week for essential toiletries, household goods and groceries.
What went out of
The No Spend Year is a short and interesting read about how a middle-class Londoner spent a year spending only on necessities, and managed to pay off a chunk of her mortgage with the proceeds. It was semi-inspirational, although I definitely couldn’t take things to McGagh’s extent. She notes that she didn’t class deodorant or antiperspirant as essentials, and had to throw out most of her clothes at the end of the year due to ingrained BO. Yuck.

Still, I picked up a few good tips on batch-cooking,
Feb 05, 2017 rated it liked it
I am always intrigued by people who take on adventures that I would never.
To spend a whole year without buying luxuries : books, theatre tickets, exhibitions or travel would be inconceivable for me. But Mcgagh did it and Bravo !
It is an honest book. Very easy to read ( finished it in days ) and it has made me think about my cup- of - tea habit.
But sadly, no miracle just hard slog and a lot of self-discipline
Jan 13, 2018 rated it did not like it
Lacked any sort of journalistic depth. She didn’t speak to anyone else who had done similar things. She didn’t do half the stuff she recommended herself. If she’d just given herself a transport budget, 50% of the bike chat in the book would have been obsolete and it would have been vastly more relevant to the majority of people. There was no conclusions beyond the amount she saved, no broader lesson.
Jan 18, 2020 rated it did not like it
An interesting challenge; an extremely insubstantial book. The author’s motivation is purely financial, so ethical and environmental considerations are entirely absent. She seems unaware of her privilege, assuming for instance that her readers will own their homes. Her ‘top tips’ are wincingly obvious (e.g. write a shopping list; Lidl is cheaper than Sainsbury’s) and are too often relevant only to Londoners, while the writing is repetitive and trivial.
I have seen some reviews really criticising this author and saying she's super privileged and not "poor enough" to justify the extremeness of her no-spend year. I think those people are missing the point. The world is full of people who aren't drowning in debt but could be smarter about the way they spend - I'm one of them. I have a mortgage, and some savings but I know I waste money on takeaways or impulse purchases at the shops. Mcgagh raises some really interesting points that I could take an ...more
Laura Carre
I watched the TED Talk Michelle gave and I have to say I did quite enjoy it; actually even more than the book, which for me is really unexpected. The book is easy and quick to read and has some fun humour. It shows how it is (apparently) possible to live one year "without spending". Well, of course there is some spending for what the author considers her bare essentials.

From my point of view, I see her experiment extremely tough and unnecessary. Furthermore, even though she repeats numerous tim
Stephanie Lane
Dec 06, 2020 rated it liked it
I wanted to read this book in the hope it would motivate me to spend less impulsively and excessively and also perhaps gain a bit more financial-insider-level advice, given that the author is a financial journalist. Alternatively, I at least hoped for a nice anecdotal read.

While I found this book fairly easy to get through, I'm afraid it missed the mark for me on all fronts. There are huge sections listing grocery prices, or shopping lists which are quite boring and I would say irrelevant to mos
Aug 23, 2017 rated it liked it
A caveat before we begin; there is nothing new in this book if you are already good with money, but there is a sense of personal challenge as the author takes on an entire 12 months of not spending, in a city and society where spending is both foundation and palace.

Mcgagh's tips for reducing common expenses like groceries and household cleaning items- shop around, check for bargains, don't fall for brands- are common sense but applying it with a sense of purism, Mcgagh makes strong use of those
Feb 25, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was worried that this book would get to be a bit too dry, with figures and financial detail, but it was more than that. Yes, there were parts that gave you a guide to certain financial details like mortgages, superannuation, investing, etc, but most of the book was a sort of diary as to how the author coped with food, travel, holiday, and entertainment budgets. She also reflected on the philosophical side of being frugal, consumerism, and general spending. That was the most interesting part of ...more
Jan 18, 2020 rated it it was ok
I liked the book’s theme of breaking free of consumerism and putting into perspective that what we need is far less than what we want. The chapters in between on financial issues (mortgage, savings, investments, etc) were not new to me, but I felt they were useful nonetheless.

What I didn’t enjoy was the overriding subject of cycling- it seemed that every other paragraph had a story of how the author cycled somewhere. I get it, you sacrificed transport. This approach to being frugal here was far
Jul 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Usually I disdain at books in this sort of genre because they can be so American and hence unrelatable but this was a very British and funny account of an attempt to not spend any money in a year. Sadly it is almost like poverty pedalling, the author being a middle class Londoner clearly having no idea what the breadline looks like. The frugal tips are interesting and she often talks about how they can apply outside of the capital but I don't think you can export this advice - she harks about th ...more
Nov 24, 2017 rated it liked it
I had seen this book around the internet but it was really bought to my attention as it was mentioned in the book The Little Book of Lykke, so it peaked my interest and I picked it up. So, the main reason I read this book was to read about the authors experience spending no money (apart from necessary bills) for an entire year.
One thing that surprised me a little about the book was that it also had a lot of information about various finance aspects. I found them to be somewhat interesting, but
Rhionna Mackay
A nice overview of a year

I’d rate this 3.5 and for someone who is a super splurged with no control of their spending or no idea where to start would get a lot out of this book. It was a straight forward read with some handy lists and learning points which could help you to formulate your own plan. Parts didn’t fully resonate with me because the author lives in London and I live very rurally so no spend leisure options like theatre, comedy and other things happening in a city are not relevant or
May 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Started it before I went to sleep last night and picked it straight back up and finished it before I got up this morning. Even though the challenge the the author undertook was huge, and no point was the book written with any expectation that readers would do the same. Insted, it was full of manageable hints and tips that are easily applied to every day life. It was really inspiring and there are things that I took from this book that I will be implementing straight away. Would really recommend ...more
Around the year in 52 books: a narrative non-fiction*

A reader could relate to her plight and how she survived if they lived in the same situation. While saving money is a must (and she does give options on how to make your money work for you - investments), her general tips are only relatable for a limited number of people, or if you live in a vibrant city like hers. One has to be creative on their end if one wants to take on a similar challenge. If you're looking for detailed-oriented specifics
charlene whoriskey
Inspiring read!

Loved reading this book. Never thought a no spend year would even be possible and it's been so inspiring reading how it was done and more importantly for me how she overcame the many obstacles in her way. I also liked the practical money advice on investing, pensions, insurances etc. The humour throughout kept it interesting and light hearted too. A lot of the suggestions for free stuff are mainly based in and around London. Being semi-rural in Northumberland they didn't necessari
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“I had bought things to tell people a story about who I was, or at least who I wanted them to think I was. By getting rid of those items I was taking back control of who I really was.” 1 likes
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