The Frugalista Files: How One Woman Got Out of Debt Without Giving Up the Fabulous Life by Natalie McNeal
This book was on my Summer Reading List , which I am proud to have completed in mid-August.
In general, I enjoyed this book, but to adjust the expectations of future readers, I want to give it a new title:
The Frugalista Files: How One Woman Transitioned from News Reporter to Freelance Blogger
The Frugalista Files: How One Woman Braved the Great Recession by Becoming a Blogger
The Frugalista Files: How One Woman Left a Desk Job and Built Her Brand
The original title is misleading – if you had expectations of learning money saving tips and details about Ms. McNeal’s adoption of a drastically cost-cutting lifestyle, you would be disappointed. For those tips, you should visit her blog. My feelings reading this were similar to those I had reading Shonda Rimes’ Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person. I was expecting more of a self-help or advice book and felt that I was reading an autobiography or memoir.
This book is a collection of journal entries broken into a chapter for each month. Ms. McNeal did a great job of capturing the highs and lows of 2008 – the doom and gloom of the Great Recession’s massive layoffs and the excitement and hope surrounding the 2008 Presidential election. Each chapter starts with a summary of Ms. McNeal’s current debts. * Spoiler alert*: she does not have her debts paid to zero at the end of the year (which she addresses in the epilogue). She does recognize her debt is a problem and that her spending habits need to change. She makes an effort, but none of her lifestyle changes are something Style and Savings readers wouldn’t have thought of already! For example:
Cooking at home instead of getting take-out
Not heading to the mall every Saturday
Cutting back on hair and nail salon appointments
Attending free, local activities
Once I realized that this book is about a transitional period in her career and her journey from an unfulfilling job covering local news at The Miami Herald to finding her passion in blogging, I appreciated this book for what it is.