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Book Review: The Frugalista Files by Natalie McNeal

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

In 2008 McNeal found herself over 30 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” “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 30 and more like 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 Natalie McNeal isn’t Suze Orman — 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.

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About Lori Hedgpeth

  • It was an inspiring read for me. I’ve known from the beginning that it is a personal memoir and not a step-by-step guide on how to get rid of your debts. All in all, I liked the book. I also appreciate her honesty by admitting her ups and downs as she struggled with her finances.