Style and Savings Reads: The Frugalista Files


Photo credit: Goodreads

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.




Style and Savings Reads: 7: an experimental mutiny of excess (Part 2)


Photo Credit: Goodreads

Jen Hatmaker, the author of this book lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and 5 children (2 are adopted from Ethiopia). This book is categorized as Religion/Christian Life/Social Issues, so there are many references to church activities and Christian scripture. Jen defines 7 as “an exercise in simplicity” and for seven months, challenges herself to set limits in seven different categories.

For Part 1 of my Review (chapters 1 – 3) click here

4 Media

Jen’s Lessons: During the Media month, Jen and her family significantly cut down their screen time

TV • Gaming • iPhone • Apps • Radio • Limited texting • Limited internet

Just for practical purposes of safety and school they did not completely cease texting and internet usage, but it made them a lot more mindful as to how often and for what purpose they were using technology (eg. research for a homework assignment vs. a Facebook status update)

Of course this was challenging at first, but they filled their new found free time with more imaginative games, family time, cleaning, and cooking meals together

My Take: It would be challenging for me to not read blogs online, scroll through social media posts, or watch TV after work. If I did choose to accept this challenge, I would read more, spend more time outdoors, and meet up with friends in person

5 Waste

Jen’s Lesson’s: Jen’s family focused on reducing their reducing, reusing, and recycling during this month by taking the following actions:

Gardening • Composting • Conserving Energy & Water • Recycling • Sharing 1 car • Shopping Thrift & Second-hand • Buying local

There were several ways that reducing waste tied back to previous months’ challenges:

  • Just as Food month, made Jen appreciate the variety and abundance of food in the U.S., gardening gave her an appreciation of the skill and effort it takes to grow your own produce

  • Continuing the habits of Media month’s goal of cutting back TV and computer usage helped with energy conservation

  • Wearing a limited number of clothing items during Clothing month, and participating in the clothing swap prepared Jen for shopping thrift & second hand

This month coincided with back to school season, and Jen realized that buying lunch size packages of snacks is not as economical as purchasing full size or bulk. Basically you pay extra for the convenience.

What stood out to me most was that Jen called attention to a wide-spread issue: buying organic food is not cheap!

During this challenge she felt conflicted between wanting to buy organic food and locally grown produce and wanting to reduce spending. For many people, this isn’t even a choice – they must choose the lowest cost option.

My Take: I have been good about recycling lately, but I know I could do better as far as conserving electricity. Thrift shopping was the inspiration this blog and I still believe that buying pre-owned is a great way to save money and support sustainability by reusing products that already exist rather than using resources to create new items

6 Spending

Jen’s Lessons: During the Spending month of Seven, Jen’s family limited their spending to only 7 Vendors/categories

Farmers Market• Target • Gas • Limited travel • Emergency medical • Bills • School

The most memorable part of this chapter was the realization that her son was in need of a haircut. With Great Clips not being one of the Seven vendors he was subjected to the embarrassment of an at-home haircut gone wrong. Jen also struggled with once again limited food options as fast food and restaurants were also off limits.

This chapter also had some eye opening statistics about the amount of U.S. spending on things like cosmetics and perfume vs. the cost of global clean water and education.

My take: Target was on Jen’s list because it’s a one-stop shop that would cover all of her family’s necessities – but I could really do some damage shopping at Target. I don’t think leaving Target as one of the seven vendors would help me cut spending. Restaurants and fast food do make up a significant chunk of our monthly budget so there would be material cost savings there, but it would be a challenge to prepare dinner and lunch every day.

7 Stress

Jen’s lessons: During the final month of Seven, Jen planned to pause for prayer 7 times daily and for her family to observe Sunday as a day of rest and a Sabbath dinner. Two of the seven prayer times were midnight and dawn and it was challenging for her to be awake at those times. She also set an alarm to as a reminder to observe the scheduled prayers.

My take: It was during our last vacation that I  realized the need to build pauses into a busy schedule. I like to have action packed sight-seeing trips, but this time I was feeling tired and jet-lagged. Next time, I make a travel itinerary, I will be sure to leave time for napping.


Overall, I enjoyed reading 7: an experimental mutiny of excess. In each month of Jen’s journey, I was able to see habits that I could also adopt in order to simplify my life.

Style and Savings Reads: 7: an experimental mutiny against excess


Photo Credit: Goodreads


Jen Hatmaker, the author of this book lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and 5 children (2 are adopted from Ethiopia). This book is categorized as Religion/Christian Life/Social Issues, so there are many references to church activities and Christian scripture. Jen defines 7 as “an exercise in simplicity” and for seven months, challenges herself to set limits in seven different categories.


Jen’s Lessons: During the first month of 7, Jen focused on food, limiting her diet to only 7 items

Chicken • eggs • whole wheat bread • sweet potatoes • spinach • avocados • apples

She really ate only these seven items – that means no sauces, condiments, seasonings aside from salt and pepper, and what she seemed to miss most – no coffee! (There wasn’t much detail about other drinks – maybe she only drank water?)

This led to occasional awkward meals when she socialized with various friends at restaurants. Also, it was hard for her to watch others enjoy tasty meals. By the end of the month, she had more appreciation for the abundance and variety of food we have in America.

My Take: I’m not willing to change my eating habits that dramatically, but I see the value in cutting back on snacks & junk food. Instead of a diet limited to 7 foods, it would be better for me to add 7 new healthy foods to my routine.


Jen’s Lessons: During month 2 of 7, Jen limited her wardrobe to only 7 items

Jeans • Capri pants • Dress shirt • 2 T-shirts • Long sleeve T-shirt • Shoes

Being a public speaker, eyes would be on her and at certain church events, the members wore their Sunday best. As most of us can relate, in her self-consciousness, Jen thought people would notice or comment more than they actually did. Part of the challenge was making sure those 7 clothing items were clean. Without a closet full of clothes to choose from, laundry had to be done much more often.

Being in Texas, Jen didn’t add a coat or jacket as one of her 7 items and suffered the consequences on an unusually cold day. This experience was a reminder that members of the homeless community often do not have the clothes, outerwear or shoes to properly protect them for the weather.

My take: My favorite part of this chapter was the Austin Women’s Clothing Swap. Ladies brought in gently used clothing they no longer wanted and all of the items were sorted and displayed on racks like a boutique. For a $5 entrance fee, the women could choose “new” clothes to take home. All unclaimed items + the money collected from the entrance fee were then donated to charity.

Swapping clothing with friends is a fun way to “shop” without spending money and cuts back on the use of natural resources used in the production of new clothing.

I regularly clean out my closets and donate clothes that are no longer my size or style. Donating clothes leaves you with a good feeling when you know that they are going to a good cause.

Prom Dresses donated to a local event called “Gown Town” which offered free dresses to girls who were unable to buy a gown for prom.

Closet Clean-Out for the #NewYear #style #styleandsavings #bgtt

A post shared by Style and Savings blog (@styleandsavings) on

3 Possessions

Jen’s lessons: During month 3 of 7, Jen gave away 7 items each day for 30 days – a total of 210 items. Instead of dropping things off at the local Goodwill or Salvation Army, she tried to  give to directly to people in need including a family of refugees who just moved to the U.S. and children whose school counselor noticed their need of clothes. Meeting refugees who were starting over with nothing (they needed bedding, dishes, and furniture) made Jen & her friends realize their own abundance of possessions.

My take: Listening to the podcast The Minimalists (mentioned in a previous Friday Faves post) has made me more aware of excess clutter. One of the tips I learned from the podcast is called the Minimalists Game in which you challenge someone with a similar de-cluttering goal to each give away a number of items every day ( 1 item the first day, 2 items second day, 3 items on the third day –  until 30 items on the 30th day for a total of 465 items in a month)The winner is whoever completes the challenge, but of course both people have succeeded to some extent in simplifying their home. Jen’s whole family of 5 was included in the purge of 210 items  – so this may or may not be more challenging for a smaller family or single person depending on how many items they own.

Stay tuned for the rest of my review in Style and Savings Reads:  7: an experimental mutiny against excess (Part 2)

Self-made Success: ShopLauren’sPlace


A couple years ago, I discovered @shoplauren’splace on Instagram. It was the first time I had seen Instagram being used as a storefront. @shoplauren’splace has cute clothes in a variety of sizes. Lauren is also sweet, ships orders quickly, and will search for specific items you’re in search of.


slp sundress

Lauren was nice enough to offer Style and Savings readers a discount and answer a few questions about what it’s like to be an Instagram entrepreneur. Keep reading!

What inspired you to start your boutique?

I actually discovered Instagram shops after reading a fashion blog! This blog author was selling off some her clothes she had featured in posts. I thought, “That’s a great idea! I have some clothes that I don’t wear anymore either!” It started out as a fun idea, turned into a hobby and is now somewhat of a part-time job!

What do you like most about Instagram?

I love that I’ve been able form friendships with other amazing shop owners and bond with customers who live all over the country!

What are some ways that you attract new followers?

One way that I’ve attracted followers is by doing what we refer to as “Share For Shares”. We each feature an item for each other, like free marketing. 

I’ve also had fun participating in Loop Giveaways – when shops and blog owners all pitch in to offer a prize for followers! 

Do you have any giveaways or discounts coming up?

I’d love to offer your readers a 10% discount when they tell me that they read your post!! They can also stay tuned for more giveaways!!

How many stores do you have to go to each week to find your inventory?

I currently find inventory at one store, once a week. In the past, I had visited up to three stores a week. 

What is rewarding about being an entrepreneur?

I love that I’m able to have a flexible schedule. I post on Instagram and shop while I have free time. I have 2 children so being able to spend time with them, while running a shop on the side is priceless!

Do you also have a full-time job? What do you do & is it related to sales & fashion in any way?

I am currently a stay-at-home mom. Prior to having children, I worked in the home building industry. I’ve always loved fashion and shopping. Finding amazing pieces for my shop is a stress reliever for me!





What are some of your favorite Instagram boutiques?

Are you an entrepreneur who would like to participate in Style and Savings’ Self-made Success Series?

Style and Savings’ Self-made Success Series:


Simply Wright

                        The Grits Blog    That Friday Blog Hop



Creole Thrift

“Premium southern living without spending a mint”

 Creole Thrift by Angele Parlange contains beautiful pictures of her family’s Southern home in New Orleans, Louisiana. Along with photographs and descriptions of the home decor which include custom made pieces, DIY projects and flea market finds, she also includes stories of her family’s history.

Style and Savings fits right into the Creole thrift philosophy:

“Although they like quality and first-class trappings, Creoles intuitively know there are ways to be resourceful; to make do or reinvent what you have on hand.” 

Style & Savings is all about looking great without paying full price by being thrifty and creative.

What are some of your favorite DIY projects & thrift store finds? Share your link with us in the comments!

Disease Called Debt          Olives-n-Okra

Reuse, Recycle, Remarry?

Before sites like Recycle Your Wedding and Wedding Recycle became popular, I remember seeing old wedding dresses in the thrift stores.

Ruffled            Wedding Recycle

I realize that it’s not practical to take up closet space with a dress that you’ll never wear again, but I thought that most married women kept their dresses for the happy memories.

shadow box

Photo Credit: https:://

I guessed that the wedding dresses in Goodwill were the result of an unhappy ending. I’m all about saving money, but when it comes to my wedding I feel a little superstitious. I would wonder who the dress belonged to and whether or not she was still happily married.

I can understand getting some things used that  you most likely would not keep anyway (ex. centerpieces, charger plates, table runners), but wedding dresses, and wedding rings are so personal.

Would you wear a once-worn wedding dress or buy vintage wedding rings?

Have you bought or sold used wedding decorations?



Yerdle allows you to post and trade items with people all over the country.

Basically Yerdle is like a mega nation-wide thrift store 

The best part is that everything is free, the only cost is shipping. Each new shopper starts off with $25 YRD (the virtual currency of Yerdle). YRD can only be earned when someone buys an item you posted.

You can even create a wish list and the app will notify you each time someone posts an item that matches your wish.

Here are some of my favorite finds:

        A gift for my flower girl                                                 Boiler Up!  

For summer or under a cardigan                                                        For winter 

To match the rest of the set



On my “to read” list      

  The Roaring Twenties                                            One of my favorite shows


Yerdle can appeal to several groups:

Thrifters – who want to find gently-used (and sometimes brand new) items at a low price

Minimalists – who want to clear clutter – for example if you are in the process of moving you can post things you don’t want anymore. Once you are settled in to a new space you can spend your YRD on new decor

Upcyclers – those who care about sustainability and reusing products that already exist rather than using resources to create new items

Do you Yerdle? Are you a thrifter, minimalist, or upcycler? Share your favorite finds in the comments.