January 7, 2011

Book Review: THE FRUGALISTA FILES by Natalie McNeal

BOOK DESCRIPTION:  Natalie McNeal opened her bills in January 2008 to find that she was a staggering five figures in debt. Young, hip and gainfully (if Dilbert-ly) employed, Natalie loved her lifestyle of regular mani/pedis, daily takeout and nights on the town, but clearly something had to give.

And so The Frugalista Files was born. Through her blog, Natalie confessed her spending habits to the world—and it turns out she wasn't the only one having trouble balancing the budget! From the drastic "no-buy" month that kicked it all off to the career gamble that threatened to put her deeper in the hole, The Frugalista Files shares Natalie's personal and professional transformation from cubicle rat to take-charge career girl.

It's possible to get ahead without giving up on the fabulous life. This is personal finance in peep-toe pumps—the empowering true story of one woman's personal and professional transformation and your guide to living the Frugalista lifestyle.

Article first published as Book Review: The Frugalista Files by Natalie McNeal on Blogcritics.

Given the current state of the economy, Natalie McNeal's The Frugalista Files is a timely book.  Who hasn't struggled with debt and strived to pay it down?   Who hasn't worried about employment and the balance of their savings account? 

In 2008 McNeal found herself over thirty and gainfully employed . . . yet worried about her professional future, with a mountain of debts and an undersized savings account.  What's a single gal to do but start budgeting and blogging!

The Frugalista Files is organized in journal (or blog) entry form.  Each chapter is a month during 2008, which starts off with McNeal's total debts (car loan, credit cards, student loan, etc.)  As you read through the book you will notice her debt slowing coming down, a rewarding feeling even for this reader, much less the ecstatic McNeal. 

I appreciated the way each month was broken down, with the highlights and lowlights - - ranging from unexpected expenses to sitting out on parties to the breakup of her relationship with "Mr. X" to the death of a close friend.  Through it all, McNeal's realistic and down to earth voice and personality emerges. 

By the same token, I found McNeal, at times, a little too down to earth, what with her "giiiiiiiiirlfriends" and "homeys" and "kicking it".  Maybe it's a sign of my age but it made me feel that McNeal sounded less professional, less a mature, capable woman of over thirty and more like a a high schooler. 

Did McNeal educate me in any way about saving that I didn't already know?  Honestly, no.  I was already aware that it's necessary to cut back on eating out, going out and unnecessary purchases (like new blouses, shoes, manicures, etc.).  In that regard, The Frugalista Files is somewhat of a disappointment.  If you're looking for a step by step instruction of how to get on track financially you will quickly note that Suze Orman Natalie McNeal isn't - - but McNeal's breezy, casual writing style makes this a rewarding, if not educational, read. 

If you'd like to read about how one woman turned a hobby about a life choice into a career, and how she learned to love to budget, The Frugalista Files is for you. 

The Frugalista Files is available for purchase now at major booksellers, including Amazon.  I am an Amazon affiliate. If you make a purchase through my link, I will receive a small commission.

For more information on author Natalie McNeal please visit The Frugalista

Review copy of this book provided by Net Galley in exchange for a fair and honest review. In no way did the provision of the book affect the outcome of my review.


serendipity_viv said...

I am really not good at saving and could probably do with reading this. It always amazes me how people manage to write blogs and then get them published. Will definitely add to my list.

Tales of Whimsy said...

Great review.

I like to tell people I was a frugalista before it was cool to be frugal ;)