Thursday, September 1, 2011

Financial Book Review: The Frugalista Files

“I don’t leave my low-paying, dead-end job, because I need money to pay down my rent, car, and school loans, and to bring down my credit card bills.”
Sound familiar? 

If so, you’re not alone. And that was the great part about reading Natalie P. McNeal’s The Frugalista Files: How One Woman got Out of Debt without Giving Up the Fabulous Life. Knowing you’re not alone in getting a possibly long-neglected financial house in order is one of the most important steps in beginning your journey to financial freedom.

As a sister in the “fab while frugal” struggle, I adored Natalie’s transparency.  She shares more than just her passage from being a pauper to becoming the poster child for personal finance success, but includes candid insight on her professional transformation, personal obligations to family and friends and the real life challenges that take place in a single woman’s life, all while juggling being a staggering five figures in debt.  The way Natalie utilizes metaphors to explain her money woes are both hilarious and relatable. “My student loan is like an old boyfriend who just won’t go away. We had a good run, but it’s time for the relationship to end.”

If you’re a blog rat (no shame in that, I am too), you’ll love the fun and carefree tone of the book. Unlike most money books you’ll find in the “self-help” section, Frugalista Files won’t bore you into a sound slumber or present concepts that are so complex you have to phone a friend. As a blogger myself, I found the tone of the book to be uber friendly and non-condemning. Reading the diary entries allowed me to connect with Natalie in a different way than the Suze Ormans of the world. (Sidenote: I do love Suze. In fact, Suze, if you’re reading, you’re the only white woman I’ve ever wanted to be like.) Ahem. I digress.

Discipline over deprivation is Natalie’s reoccurring theme. She doesn’t preach complete abstinence from spending because really, who the hell would listen anyway?  Rather, she strives to maintain a somewhat fashionable lifestyle by incorporating the idea of “ballin’ on a budget” . . . yes, similar to what the group, Nappy Roots sung about circa 2002. For example, she attended social events, but decided which ones she would go to based on parking rates and the other “hidden fees” of being a social butterfly.  She limited herself to one drink to save money and to prevent alcohol-induced munchies . . . otherwise known as food binges. She began styling her own hair and giving herself mani/pedis, while only visiting a salon on a truly as needed basis. And at the end of it all, the moral of the story is: moderation is key. Frugalista Files shows us how much small changes can make enormous impact by highlighting her decreasing debt balance at the end of each month, or chapter.

McNeal  doesn’t go deep into investing or any other complex terms, but let’s face it, that’s not what most of us need.  Most of us need to know that a) we can start where we are and b) we can still look and feel beautiful even on a budget.  We need the fundamentals of basic personal finance just so we can get in the game.  And that’s what you get with this quick, easy and light-hearted read.  A few tips and quips on how to stay fly, have fun and be a diva on a dime with a whole lot of entertaining inspiration in between.

If you’re on a journey to discover how much you can accomplish  . . .  even on a budget, this book is for you. If you want to discover your true passion and then possibly use the profits from it to slay debt, then this book is for you. If you just want to laugh out loud and relate to an interesting and quirky woman who happens to discover herself on more than one level, then you guessed it . . .this book is for you.

You can also check Natalie out on her blog at

And, for more information on being fly on a dime, check out my article in the October 2011 issue of Upscale Magazine!

*I received no monetary compensation for this post. Hell, I didn’t even receive a sample copy of this book to review. I bought it, but thankfully it was in my budget to do so. (SMILE) This post is based on my opinions and was not influenced in any way.*

Until Next Time,


Seek Wisdom, Find Wealth & Be Blessed!

1 comment:

Shamira-Christine said...

Awesome review Pat-Rice! I'm ordering my copy of this book today!