Book Review: The Frugalista Files an Original Story by a Blogger


My friend and fellow blogger the original Frugalista®, Natalie McNeal, has written a book...called...can you guess, The Frugalista Files. It's the story of how she took stock of her finances and got out of debt. Mmm...sounds kind of familiar. I also have a book I hope to publish, but this is not my story.  You see dear readers, a Frugalista is very different than a Recessionista.  In my humble opinion at least.  If you followed the blog, The Frugalista Files , then you know that for a time, Natalie really was on an austerity program.   She gave up her manicures, hair treatments, and pedicures for 30 days and took a vow of "frugality." From there, she went on to right-size her budget and finances.  The Frugalista Files has always been more focused on personal finance, whereas yours truly, The Recessionista, has been more focused on living the luxe life (read serious Chanel addiction)  for less.  When both of us started our blogs, we were among the first to put a personality and a meaning to our respective blog names. In 2008, we started blogging in an attempt to give voice to the legions of consumers and shoppers struggling to rebalance their lives and finances in the economic downturn.  Our goal was give voice to the "little guys" via blogging or what I call authentic voice.  There is no magazine editor or advertiser editing or altering the words of a typical blogger. After all, blogs are deeply personal and are like diaries. Since Natalie and I started our respective blogs, it is unbelievable to me the number of large corporations who have picked up on the terms Frugalista and Recessionista and used them to brand their own blogs, newspaper columns, books, shopping sites, products or advertising.  In my opinion, these corporate entities are using the terms not to give voice to the working man or women, but rather to sell something.   They are not trying to create social dialogue via the new form of social media, but rather to make money. Like a fake Louis Vuitton bag, these copycats just stink.  Most of them don't try to offer advice or tips to help people through tough times.  To me, there's nothing Frugalista about Nina Garcia.  She's great on Project Runway, but I'd be surprised if she's on a budget or concerned about living on a limited income. That's why I am SO excited that Natalie has been able to maintain her blog, and her voice among the many imitators and knock-offs.   Even more exciting, I am glad to see her in print as a published author.  Score one for the good guys.  Her book tells the story of how she got out of debt and still managed to maintain her quality of life.  It is not ghost written or full of glossy celebrity pictures.  And that's why I love it.  It's real.  And it's original. Originality is something all the knock-off frugalistas and recessionistas can't quite copy.

As I read The Frugalista Files, and I think it's a story many women, and men, can relate too.  We all work hard, and at the end of the day we do want to treat ourselves by eating out, having a few drinks, spa-ing and even shopping. After a while of course, all these pleasures can add up, and some of us get a big wake up call when we receive our monthly credit card bills. Most of us don't keep track of credit card spending the way we keep track of cash spending.  Before we know it, we can wind up in debt.  And that's what happened to Natalie.  This book is written like a diary, which makes it a fun and charming read.   Natalie gets a financial alarm via her credit card bills but she works hard  to take action and turn it around. Like going on a diet, the biggest element in going frugal is motivation and inspiration.  I think Natalie's journey will both inspire and motivate others to learn how to better manage their spending.  Her story will also make you laugh. Particularly when she admits,"My name is Natalie and I'm a spending slut."  I laughed so hard I snorted when I read that bit of prose.
If you are new to trying to live well for less or learning to manage your money, you will want to read Natalie McNeal's story.  There are no slick gimmicks here or adverts for services to help you manage your money, just good advice and a very real story told with good humor and intelligence.

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