>Review: The Frugalista Files by Natalie P. McNeal


The Frugalista Files: How One Woman Got Out of Debt Without Giving Up the Fabulous Life
Fru·gal·is·ta [froo-guh-lee-stuh] – noun
1. A person who lives within her means and saves, but still looks good, eats well and lives fabulously.

Natalie P. McNeal opened her credit card statements in January 2008 and tallied up her loans to find that
she was a staggering five figures—$20,000!—in debt. Young, hip and gainfully (if Dilbertly) employed, Natalie loved her lifestyle of regular mani/pedis, daily take-out, shopping sprees and nights on the town. But clearly, something had to give.

And so The Frugalista Files was born. Through her Miami Herald blog, Natalie confessed her spending
habits to the world—and it turns out she wasn’t the only girl out there having trouble balancing the budget! The Frugalista Files will share the good, the bad and the ugly—how Natalie started the blog, stuck to her “no-buy month” despite a breakup that could have used some retail therapy, and ultimately discovered how to maintain her lifestyle while digging herself out of debt.

This is personal finance in peep-toe pumps—at once the inspiring story of how one woman went where no broke fashionista had gone before and your ultimate guide to living a fabulous, yet still frugal, life.

Here we are, faced with another new year. Many of us will make the requisite resolutions and promptly break them within the first week…some within the first day. Yeah, you know who you are.

I’m just as guilty as the rest of you, so when I found The Frugalista Files, I thought, Wow, if she really did this, I should read and take notes.

Natalie McNeal conceived The Frugalista Files as a way to chronicle her struggles as she learned to live within her means and pay off her debts. At the time, she worked as a reporter for The Miami Herald and posted the blog on their site. It turned out to be a huge hit that netted interviews on several television shows and in various newspapers.

The book is a journal of her life during this time – the ups and downs, good and bad, small successes and failures she experienced. Ms. McNeal has a wonderful sense of humor and it comes through beautifully. I cheered when she dated a younger man, sympathized when they broke up, and mourned the death of a friend with her.

Her advice is down-to-earth common sense. She was able to look good and live normally while paying down her debts in a manner that most of us could emulate without too much stress. She has since left the newspaper, but she did pay off her bills, just not in a year as she initially anticipated.

If you’re looking for inspiration to help motivate you, then you need to read this book. Heck, I’m feeling pretty self-righteous right now. I think I’ll go save some money.

Book furnished by NetGalley.

Natalie P. McNeal

Is an award-winning journalist who launched her personal finance blog and brand, Frugalista, in February 2008.

A social media consultant for Kmart’s smartshoppersunite.com, her blog has been
featured in the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. Her work has been
featured in the Miami Herald, Ebony and Newsday, among others.



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