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The Frugalista Files: How One Woman Got Out of Debt Without Giving Up the Fabulous Life

3.02  ·  Rating Details  ·  254 Ratings  ·  70 Reviews
Natalie McNeal opened her bills in January 2008 to find that she was a staggering five figures—$20,000!—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 h
Paperback, 192 pages
Published December 21st 2010 by Harlequin
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 651)
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Jan 08, 2011 Tamara rated it it was ok
This book offers a window onto one woman's effort to take control of her financial (and professional) life over the course of a single year. I'm a voyeur, so the breakdown of debts, expenditures, and income was highly appealing, and I was really impressed/inspired by the dent she put in her debt in just 12 months. But it seemed to me that a big part of why she was able to do so while still living "the fabulous life" was because so many of her friends were willing to buy her dinner and drinks. No ...more
Apr 23, 2011 Lauri rated it liked it
The author has written a somewhat entertaining and engaging read about finding herself buried in debt. Decent job, but way too many bills. Bad decisions, student loans, car note....and way too much living beyond her means. A good book for those in their early 20s and late teens, it offers a cautionary look at her mistakes and missteps.

However, if you are in a position similar to the author's, you won't really find a way out here. Some good ideas, living a more thoughtful and thrifty life, but no
Jan 02, 2011 Monique rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This seemed like the prefect book to start off a New Year, a book to describe how to live a fabulous life without going book. Unfortunately The Frugalista Files fulls short. This is not actually a personal finance guide, it is a look into one woman's struggle to live within her means and pay off the debt that she owes. If you a looking for a book to help you with your personal finances than look somewhere else.

The Frugalista Files is step in like blog or journal entries in month date format. I t
Read In Colour
Dec 26, 2010 Read In Colour rated it really liked it
It's like a grown up version of The Broke Diaries meets Sophie Kinsella! - Me

Yep, I said that. The whole time I was reading The Frugalista Files it reminded me of Angela Nissel's The Broke Diaries, but a more mature version. And author Natalie McNeal adds just the right amount of humor to dance along the periphery of Sophie Kinsella-dom. All in all, it's an unbeatable combination.

So what happens when a single thirtysomething wakes up one day and realizes that her debt is out of control? If she's
Mandy Londer
Nov 24, 2012 Mandy Londer rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2012
Natalie McNeal is something inspiring for people who just want to write a book about anything at all, not be a very good writing, and still managed to get published (and probably paid decently!). This book was something awful.

I was hoping for a book with tips on saving money; frugality and fashion don’t exactly miss. I was totally wrong. Having never heard of Ms. McNeal’s blog,, I had no idea that her book would be... well about how she started her blog about being frugal. Yep
Stephanie (Once Upon a Chapter)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 08, 2011 Mona rated it liked it
Shelves: contemporary
Every New Year's Day, many of us make the requisite resolutions and promptly break them within the first week...some within the first day. Yeah, you know who you are.

I’m just as guilty as the rest of you, so when I found The Frugalista Files, I thought, Wow, if she really did this, I should read and take notes.

Natalie McNeal conceived The Frugalista Files as a way to chronicle her struggles as she learned to live within her means and pay off her debts. At the time, she worked as a reporter
Dec 24, 2010 Charlotte rated it really liked it

I really enjoyed The Frugalista Files. Natalie McNeal took a risk in exposing her financial transgressions to the whole world, but it in the end it really paid off. (Pardon the silly pun). She learned a lot about herself in the process and I think there are a lot of women out there that can relate to her tales of financial woe. Natalie's fun and friendly personality shine through with every word she writes, making her blog (and book) seem more like a girlf
Jan 11, 2011 Toni rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, finance, 2011
This book chronicles the year in the life Natalie P. McNeal as she pays down her debt and tries to live more fiscally responsible. That may not sound like a big deal, but for a young journalist living and working in the social hotspot of Miami, it was difficult for a self-described "promiscuous spender".

Each chapter corresponds to the month of that year, starting with January, showing the amounts of her current credit card, car loan, and student loan debt. I will admit that it was pretty satisfy
Kari Anderson
Mar 01, 2011 Kari Anderson rated it it was amazing
The Frugalista Files is the real-life diary of a journalist who is way in debt. Like $20,000 between credit cards and car payments and student loans. Who hasn’t been there? Well, maybe not that much, but most of us can relate.

Natalie decided to nip her debt in the bud. She decided to quit spending and start saving. Her goal was a month and she was documenting it on a blog, through her newspaper’s website. And it took off like a wild fire. What started as an online spending diary ended up getting
Feb 04, 2011 Tara rated it liked it
My thoughts:
Since being frugal is very in right now, I think this is the perfect time for a book like this. She shows us the lighter side of being thrifty, while still managing to look and feel great!

This was a really quick fun read! It reads like a diary. I can see where some people would be put off by the informal writing style. There are lots of "Lol" 's and "haha" 's interspersed throught the dialogue. I almost felt like I had stumbled across someone's blog archives. The chapters are divided
Cassandra Wilson
Feb 26, 2011 Cassandra Wilson rated it it was amazing
After chatting with the author on Twitter, @frugalista, I finally bought the e-book for my iPad. Ironically, reading this book coincided with a goal of mine to get out of debt and take more control over my money. Perhaps, the underlying motivation is that I am in my last year of my 20s or that I am going through a divorce. Either way, this book was right on point. The most intriguing and useful tip that I will be implementing is the "No Spend Month." Next month, March 2011, will be my "No Spend ...more
Jun 08, 2011 Birgit rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book couldn't have come my way at a better time. After my resolution to live frugally in 2011 I certainly saw it as a sign having the opportunity to read The Frugalista Files which promised to be a real-to-life Becky Bloomwood kind of read.
In diary-style entries Natalie McNeal writes in a both witty and open manner about how her personal need of a frugal lifestyle – due to being buried under loans and CC debt despite a steady income – developed from a one-month project at the newspaper she
Jan 07, 2011 Lori rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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 i
Sep 01, 2011 Ally rated it liked it
Shelves: ebook, 2011, netgalley
Natalie McNeal opened her bills in January 2008 to find that she was a staggering five figures—$20,000!—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" m ...more
Mar 19, 2011 Beth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a quick, easy and rather fun read. The author is a young single woman living in Miami working for the Miami Herald. In 2008 when she realized she was $20,000 in debt she decided she needed to do something about it. To make herself accountable she started a blog about her money-saving efforts called the Frugalista Files which was initially sponsored by her newspaper, but later she took independent. She spent the month of Feb. only buying essentials (e.g., rent, utilities, groceries, tran ...more
Kristin (Kritters Ramblings)
A hit and a miss with me. I enjoyed the month by month recap of the unexpected and expected financial happenings that occur in a year, but I didn't learn many tactical pointers because I believe that I have already cut the crazy spending habits of years past.

The first things she cut were her excessive hair and nail appointments. Welp, those have never been on my list, so can't cut there. She then boasted about grocery shopping and learning to cook at home - I live with a former catering chef, we
Susan Visser
Jan 12, 2012 Susan Visser rated it liked it
Very quick and easy read. The only people I'd recommend this book to are young people who just start working (or being on their own) to help them realize the pain off paying of debt. It's easier to stay out of debt than it is to get out of it.

At this point in my life, I'm a full blown frugalista and have been most of my life. There were a few years of overspending, but that overspending has been good to me now as I'm in year long no-buy modes.

Unlike Natalie, I choose to put travel on my priority
I found "The Frugalista Files" inspiring and an on-time publication. McNeal's story is not unique, but it is interesting and may provide readers with the push necessary to get on the right track and change their spending plans. I got a handful of great tips from McNeal, I didn't find the book as insightful a I expected, but McNeal is in the learning stages of personal finance & I am, too, so I felt that I was at the right place for learning.

This is a great, quick & informative read to p
Jul 05, 2012 Joyanne rated it liked it
I read this title because my co-worker Nicole gave it a good review and I am always interested in tips for frugality. :)

The author's lifestyle doesn't quite match up with mine, I am a married mother of 4 daughters, part time employee, etc...I might get a mani-pedi or just plain pedi 3 x's a year...usually for a birthday treat or other special occasion. Her extravagances are not mine but she did have great advice that any woman single, married, parent or non-parent can follow. Here are the tidbit
Jun 20, 2016 Maria rated it it was ok
I picked this up hoping to find some useful tips on saving money. It turned out that the "Frugalista tips" were pretty obvious. Advice like, "cook at home more and eat out less", and "instead of buying a new dress for a party, see what you have in your closet first" were hardly revelations. As a year-in-the-life account of one woman's life, it was OK. As a practical guide to becoming more frugal, not really. The author seems likable, but I got annoyed with all the "yay!"s and even emojis sprinkl ...more
Nov 27, 2013 Corinne rated it it was ok
Shelves: gym-books
Lately, I've been trying to read books while on the elliptical that are geared toward health or well-being. Financial well-being counts so when a friend passed along this slender little book, I opened it up. The principle is as simple as it gets -- don't buy things you don't need. But the author was irritating for a couple reasons. For one, this simply isn't a book. It appears to be a journal kept over the first year that she had her blog. It's irritating in tone, has no narrative arc, and the o ...more
Apr 12, 2011 Shannon rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, nonfiction, money
This was an ARC I received from

I liked it. I honestly could not put it down. Her energy and attitude is really great throughout and she comes off as really grounded - even when making a life altering decision.

Keep in mind, this is a book about one woman's journey to becoming debt-free and frugal and how it changed her life. It is not a self-help book. Most of her frugal strategies are common knowledge among those of us who are already frugal. You know: buy food from a grocery store
Belem Garcia
Feb 26, 2016 Belem Garcia rated it it was ok
To be honest I was really excited to read this book. I was hoping she would give great tips on living frugal while still being true to yourself. I was disappointed in that aspect and this book was found in the financial area. This book had no tips and it was more of her story of why she decided to go debt free etc. etc. It did have it's moments with humor.
Nov 04, 2015 Krystal rated it really liked it
I agree that the book is a bit misleading. I expected it to be packed with tips on how to save money but it wasn't. The book was written more like a journal/memoir and to me that made it a lot more interesting. I suggest this book to people who are looking for a career change because that is what the book mainly focuses on and that is where its' strong points lie.
Jan 19, 2011 Monica rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
I started this book in a fourteen hour plane ride (that ended up being sixteen hours), not the ideal circumstances for starting a book, your focus is fractured and everywhere on an airplane, just not good, at least for me. This book did an excellent job of keeping me focused, I read about three quarters of it on the plane. This is one of those books that inspires you, makes you want to do better, be better. As I was reading I was thinking about what I do that could be different or change.

My only
Jul 14, 2011 Continualknowledge rated it really liked it
I don't even know where to begin with this book. It was really funny about a serious matter which was a good thing. You have to be able to step back and see the truth with a bit of joviality while also continuing to come up with a solution. She definitely put her plan into action and kept working it. Which shows that hard work does pay off even while being fabulous. I enjoyed the book quite a bit. I do wish however, even though I know that wasn't the true focus of the book, that the author would ...more
St[♥]r Pr!nc:$$ N[♥]wsheen pictures, pictures, pictures ||| ♥ Zin Uru ♥ ||||
Aug 16, 2012 St[♥]r Pr!nc:$$ N[♥]wsheen pictures, pictures, pictures ||| ♥ Zin Uru ♥ |||| marked it as to-read
Recommends it for: my brother
Recommended to St[♥]r Pr!nc:$$ N[♥]wsheen pictures, pictures, pictures by: GR friend
Scary! But since people comment a lot about my buying and purchasing and spending and shopping...just in case kinda book cos I'm that independent girl you would find realy hard to find in a compromising situation unless she created it in the first place, not often but sometimes I need help too and ostly I don't so I don't like meddlesome old uncles and aunts and I also hate being in debt. And I loathe being poor or poorly , wow I found a lot of things I hate and can talk about in ice breaker ses ...more
Mar 08, 2012 Sandi rated it liked it
Natalie McNeal is (was) a beat reporter in Miami, and for me, that was the most interesting part of the book: how she viewed her status at the paper, the future of print media, and the contacts she made as a reporter.
With debt north of the $20,000 point she got serious about her finances. Unfortunately, her financial plan seemed to be stop getting manicures, reduce hair appointments and shop discount stores. It's a very basic look at finances, but it is entertaining. Read this as a fun autobiog
Feb 29, 2016 Dogsandbooks rated it liked it
DPL e book. Fast read, esp interesting in the newspaper to new media transition story. However, a lot of bad decisions and still the party girl, although now with less debt. I vastly prefer Frugalwoods!!!!!
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