Generally when I read a book, it is easy for me to write a review about it because I find that I either love the things I read or I totally dislike them (I hate to admit it but there isn’t a lot of middle ground for me).
In the case of The Frugalista Files by Natalie McNeal, I totally loved it! When, then, do I find it so difficult to write this review?
I think the reason I find it so challenging is that I want to share how amazingly fun and witty this book is, on one hand, but I also want to touch on some of the serious elements of it as well. This book offers so many different things to different people!
The Frugalista Files is a must-read for anyone who enjoys reading blogs or anyone who is a blogger. In this book, Natalie candidly chronicles, in journal form, the first year of her blog, The Frugalistia. She talks about an amazing variety of things – from her personal struggles (in terms of her life, her job, her finances and the loss of a close friend) and her struggles, at times, to choose what she wants to share with her readers. I loved the book because it is incredibly easy to read, extremely engaging (I felt as if Natalie could have been sitting across from me and sharing her experiences, which I adore!) and I could relate to Natalie’s ups and downs in her life.
I also enjoyed this book because it deals with an issue that has hit many people in recent years – the recession and financial management. Personally, I think the most difficult thing to do, when facing cutbacks, is figuring out to make lifestyle changes that will help to save money. It wasn’t that many years ago that I was young, single woman who thought I would finish school and start my professional career and everything would simply fall into place. I couldn’t have been more wrong! I spent a number of years working in a field that didn’t produce much money and I had to find ways to face adult bills and responsibilities while making little more than I had while I was a student. It was really tough! Even today, I try really hard to be frugal without totally giving up my lifestyle, so I think that Natalie is a great inspiration! I love the concept of a “No Buy” month that Natalie chronicles in her book as well and I think it is something I’d like to try with my family!
As well, as the “No Buy” month, Natalie shares a lot of great tips and ideas that she has tried herself as she works to eliminate her debt.
“As she shares her own hard-won financial advice, Natalie divulges a trove of tips to turn you from spending slut to Frugalista, including:
-Ask yourself: Am I buying this because I want it or because I need it?
-Eat dinner at home at least four nights each week. Cheaper and healthier.
-Help a friend move. She’ll probably be in the mood to give stuff away.
-Avoid “spending traps” such as the friendly bartender who gets you to hang at the bar after the specials end.
-Any new clothing purchases should be able to take you from work to happy hour to a date.
-Have happy hour at home. Friends bring an inexpensive bottle of wine, you supply cheese and crackers.
-Fashionistas know the best mascaras are the least expensive ones sold in drugstores and supermarkets.
-Utilize the local newspaper and website calendar listings for free entertainment such as concerts, poetry readings, comedy shows, theater, classes and other events.
-Clothing swaps are a great way to go shopping in someone else’s closet.
-See friends during lunch. It’s much cheaper than dinner and drinks.
-Trust your instincts on when it’s time to make a career decision or risk.”
This book is fun and entertaining, but it also gives an incredibly honest account of how Natalie faced her debt and how she learned to battle back and change her lifestyle to beat down her debt. I’ve already got a line-up of friends at work who have seen me reading this book and want to borrow it (which, I thought, was a completely Frugalista thing to do so I’m happy to oblige!).
You can also check out Natalie on her website, The Frugalista!