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Save Karyn: One Shopaholic's Journey to Debt and Back
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Save Karyn: One Shopaholic's Journey to Debt and Back

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  2,182 ratings  ·  171 reviews
Drowning in $20,000 of credit card debt, shopaholic Karyn Bosnak asked strangers for money online -- and it worked!

What would you do if you owed $20,000? Would you: A) not tell your parents? B) start your own website that asked for money without apology? or C) stop coloring your hair, getting pedicures, and buying Gucci? If you were Karyn Bosnak, you'd do all three.

Paperback, 441 pages
Published September 2nd 2003 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published 2002)
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Average rating 3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,182 ratings  ·  171 reviews

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Nov 03, 2008 rated it it was ok
Warning, this a pink, girly girly book.

I struggled with this book. I am one of those people who does not understand why on earth someone would pay $600 for shoes or $12,000 for a purse. I would buy a car for $12,000 maybe, but not some fashion accessory that will be out of fashion in four minutes.

Not only that, but the author doesn't learn her lesson in college when she uses her TUITION money to buy clothes. WTF? $1600 for clothes in one blow ("but they were cute", doesn't cut it with me) and
Oct 29, 2007 rated it it was ok
I had a hard time with this one. The premises is that the author moves to NYC from Chicago, runs up 20 grand in credit card debt, and then creates a website (savekaryn) asking for donations to help her pay it. In the end, she did get about $13,000 from random people who sent her money. She also starts selling some of her things on ebay, and contributes her own money as well. She found herself between a rock and a hard place when she lost her job as a producer after 9/11, and from what it sounds ...more
Jun 05, 2009 rated it liked it
I read this book as last month's book selection for a book club I belong to. It was intended to contrast the very sad "Billy" that we read...a contrast it was! Overall, I liked the book. I did think her narration of the shopping sprees was a bit long. And, like other critiquers on this site, I cringed at her spending habits as well as her rationale. (I mean...who goes on shopping sprees, yet fails to purchase a lock for the door!?) But the book was cute. I got annoyed at how every other ...more
Aug 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The third of my "gal about town" novels set in NYC.

God help me, I remember this girl when she launched her website, I even sent her a buck, a packet of kool-aid, and a Target gift card with something like $2 on it. She annoyed me, but charmed me at the same time.

So too goes this book. She carries you, wide-eyed and naive from downtown Chicago to NYC. You want to scream at her "stop!" when she buys her first pair of shoes for "only $170," but at the same time, you want to continue reading to
Jul 07, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir, nonfiction
This book is an atrocity, but I read it because the writer also spells her name with a "y." After reading it, though, I'm thinking I should change my name to Karen or Karin or maybe even to Angela. I would give this book one star, but I hated The Empathy Exams so much that I decided that this book should get more stars. Also, I expected this book to be an atrocity, so I can't say I was surprised.
Alex Boettcher
Sep 22, 2017 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
The true-life shophaholic's journey to debt & back's Becky Bloomwood brought to life.....

This was a book that evoked mixed emotions in me. I couldn't quite identify with the way she racked up the debt but then I'm not one for buying loads of clothes, shoes & bags (now books I could understand) but it was easy to empathise with the feeling of struggling with debt, a feeling a guess we've all experienced at some point in our lives...if not to the degree Karyn did!

Some of the early
Sep 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I had a hard time rating this one. The first half of the book was really hard to get through. I knew the story would cover how Karyn got into debt, but I didn't realize how painful it would be to watch someone make such stupid choices with their money, or credit cards. With that being said, I'm sure it was hard to put all that out there, and I can admire her for that. The real reason I wanted to read this book was to find out about her website, where she asked strangers for money. It sounded ...more
Aug 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Debt...we all have but most of us want to hide it. Not Karyn! In this great memoir, Karyn details how she acquired debt and ultimately, how she beats the debt. In the beginning, Karyn was simply trying to live the life of a New Yorker ala Carrie Bradshaw. But what the show failed to tell Karyn (and myself) is that NYC life is not as simple as a brownstone on a journalist (freelancer) salary. Instead, everything adds up and quickly! Although it's easy to say, no Karyn...don't do it!, I often ...more
Aug 22, 2012 rated it liked it
I just wanted to wring Bosnak's neck. You watch her dissolve into a financially-irresponsible moron and you want to put on your own set of high-priced, spiky-heeled boots (of which you only have one pair) and kick her in her ass. After running herself straight into debt hell, Bosnak goes online and asks for donations from people, some of whom call her out on her idiocy and some of whom take pity, either out of empathy or karma. Maybe as a fiscally responsible adult woman, who likes shopping for ...more
Nov 07, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: nyc girls and people with debt
Shelves: memoirs, chick-lit
This was a fairly good memoir, straightforward and honest. It was interesting to read how Karyn convinced the world to send her money to pay off her bills. However, the story as to how she got in so much debt almost made me hate her, because she was such an idiot. "I'll cut up my credit cards and keep just one for emergencies...omg I have a date and nothing to wear, this is an emergency and I must charge a $200 outfit!" I wanted to grab this woman by the shoulders and shake her. I hope she has ...more
Sep 06, 2008 rated it liked it
This book wan't terrible or great. I picked it up mostly because I was curious as to what kind of person would have the balls to ask strangers to pay off her debt accumulated by buying crap she didn't need and couldn't afford. Basically, her spending habits were enough to make me nervous just reading about them. The writing was very basic, not all that funny, and she used "anywho" a few too many times for my taste. It was interesting and I do like memoirs, so I don't regret having read it.
Jan 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've had this book for years and years in amongst all my accumulated purchases in my loft (hey, this sounds familiar). I read it on the recommendation of one of my Goodreads friends, Zoe, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think when reading (and reviewing) this book, it's important to keep in mind that it's real life, it really happened. I do recall seeing her briefly in the press about 16 years ago and wondering how she had the audacity to do what she did.

Her story in itself is immensely
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
I love, love this book.

To be honest, I had read when it first came out. This was at the beginning of the Internet craze and at the time, this was a radical thing to do - ask strangers for $. Now, we have all types of site that do just that, but it is interesting to read, in Karyn's own words, her experiences. I feel she is a bit of a pioneer in the "asking for money" arena and I thought it was a brilliant idea.

The first part of the book details her spending. It is done with humor and is an
Rachel Swords
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Reading this book made me feel better about my own financial predicament. I owe some credit card debt and I'm doing what I can to pay it off, but it's nowhere near the amount of $20,000. Quite a bit less, actually. And I don't buy name brand stuff because it's Gucci, or Prada...definitely have never bought a top that cost $140 (I spend that much buying SEVERAL pieces of clothes and I have yet to be branded worst dressed for it). Still, "Save Karyn" was highly enjoyable. If I didn't know any ...more
Joann Elias
Aug 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book, but I could not stand her spending habits! I have the tendency to buy frivolous things, but I’ve never justified the need for a different shirt/outfit for extremely obscure occasions, such as a new job, or a date. Also, a Gucci bag? That’s just too much $$. Prada shoes for $100?! Who in their right mind can justify spending that much on one pair of shoes?!
Natasha Salzer
Dec 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! I love to shop and this book has opened my eyes to see just how deadly this can be. Top it off I went and messaged the author and had a real live Karyn reply, I was shocked and amazed ! I loved her book and I will definitely be passing to as many friends as I can. Thank you for writing such a great book!!!
May 15, 2017 rated it liked it
I mean, it wasn't particularly funny and, for a lot of the book, I was cringing at the reckless spending. I guess that was the point. I didn't love this book, I didn't hate this book, but I read it. That's all I got.
May 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
read it years ago but really enjoyed it. Maybe I'll read it again one day.
Jun 11, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: women in their 20's
Although I do not have a gi-normous credit card debt, I could definitely relate to Karyn. I am also a 20-something girl living in NYC and have definitely felt the push and pull of living here. At the same time, I was amazed at what she was spending. Her salary was at LEAST three times what I am making now and yet I somehow manage to survive without eating ramen and frapuccinos for meals.

I think Karyn would have been a lot better off if she had more friends in the city in her income bracket or
Jan 27, 2010 rated it it was ok
I went into this one thinking it would annoy me. Karyn Bosnack is the Karyn of fame, the woman who ran up $20k in credit card debt after moving to NYC. She charged up things like designer clothes, purses, shoes, hair appointments, and bikini waxes. She made decent money for NYC - six figures in the early 2000s - but just frittered it away. She was a TV producer and had worked for shows like Jenny Jones, Curtis Court, and the Ananda Lewis Show, the latter two of which didn't do very ...more
Karen Maeby
Oct 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009, my-library
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 13, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone and Everyone especially those who have a tendency to spend
I like "chick lit" - it's taken me a very long time to admit that. I find it fun to live vicariously through these women who seem to always have it together with great jobs, loves, and style. Save Karyn started that way then actually came through with a point and a lesson - for that I loved it.

It started out being silly and frivolous with the heroine - Karyn - shopping like crazy and spending foolishly on purses and shoes racking up a huge debt of $20,000. She finally realizes she can't pay it
Penelope Irving
Dec 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
This sounds like a very odd premise for a book, but it's extremely entertaining.

Karyn is a young TV producer who moves to New York to further her career and find out what she wants from life. She has a well-paid, if stressful job, and starts to live the New York dream - Manhattan apartment, a few designer outfits, expensive gym membership and grooming. It doesn't take very much moderately high living to plunge her into a frightening spiral of debt, and when she loses her job in the insecure
May 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I really love Karyn Bosnak's way of writing, it's always so simple but unique at the same time. This book became my source of motivation during the last couple of days. After I was done with it, I knew that her lessons did not end where the last words in her book were printed, she imparted it with me.

This book about a major part of her life is a wake-up call to everyone who is probably on the verge of giving up on everything. Save Karyn motivates and teaches the value of giving wholeheartedly
Mar 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-love, childrens
I first discovered this book about 3 years ago and to this day it has remained one of my favourite books. It follows the true story of a woman who fell into a great ammount of debt and came up with an unusual yet genious way of paying it off. I have owned several copies since as i have lost them due to moving. Karyn wrote her memoirs in this amazing story that is inspiring, i had a rough patch with debt which is why i originally purchased this book and i have never looked back, its very ...more
Nov 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
After moving to New York City, Karyn Bosnak finds herself living a frivolous lifestyle and charging everything from purses, to shoes, and even her hair. This only lasts a short while until she finds out she is drowning in $20,000 of credit card debt. To help pay it off, she starts a website called and gets an unexpected reaction to it. The theme of this book is that happiness can be created through the simple pleasures, not the most luxurious things.

The author, Karyn Bosknak's tone
Monica Monfre
Jul 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I remember hearing about Karyn's story, and that couldn't really happen! But it happened, and I totally connected with Karyn. Her stories of living in Manhattan and splurging on haircuts, cute clothes, and dinners out are all things that I have done routinely since I was in high school. And the result...huge debt like Karyn's! The book makes human a struggle that so many Americans face - paying the credit card bills! Her take on debt wasn't trivialized (like some said), but rather ...more
Jun 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs
I've never been the type to blow money quite so frivolously as Karyn; I tend to be more cautious, buying sale/clearance items, or the store vs. name brand, any way I can to save money. However even I get sucked into a shopaholic frenzy at times, just not with designer clothes!

So in a way I could definitely relate to Karyn, especially with just how easy it is to charge something instead of paying cash for it. There were times when I couldn't believe what I'd just read, the silly things she did to
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Karyn Bosnak was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago. After spending much of her early career as a television producer, she moved to New York in 2000 and became a writer. Her first book, the memoir SAVE KARYN (based on the website of the same name), received international media attention when it was published in 2003 resulting in appearances on the Today Show and 20/20. Karyn's second book ...more