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What inspired you to write The Frugalista Files?

awesome coupons before you make a purchase. Comb the Internet to find free concerts in town. Go to that free happy hour (tip the waiter) and

Well, I was in $20,000 in debt and didn’t have a plan to get out of debt.

have a good time with your friends. It’s all out there. Make it your mission

I decided to go on a “No-Buy Month.” I went a month without getting my

to get the best deal that you can with very thing that you do in life.

hair done, nails done, or dining out. I didn’t spend any extra money and saved $400. A light bulb went off. I bloggged about my “No-Buy Month”

For you personally, has the book been a success?

for my old newspaper and decided to continue the blog beyond the month. Eventually, I went independent with the blog (

I am glad that I wrote it. I was a little nervous because I was

and I was urged to write a book about what I learned.

pretty raw in it. But I remind myself that I’m telling my story. I am raw. I still can’t believe I wrote a book.

Where did the term Frugalista come from? Since the book came out, have lots of clubs, bars, or other

# 02 JUNE 2011

I came up with the term after my old bosses didn’t like the other names

establishments invited you to spend time there because they know

that I had picked for the blog. “Miser McNeal” didn’t have enough ring,

about your book and the message it sends?

I guess. I live in Miami and anything with “ista” on the end sounds very

Enjoying the luxurious life on a budget

Latin and Miami has a large Hispanic population. And, it reminded

I got a message on Twitter last week, asking me to check out a new

me of the word “fashionista.” I added frugal to the front and out came

supper club in Miami. I was a little surprised- and happy. I do want to


check it out and it does have a happy hour. I think Frugalistas make any party better! :)

For you, what is your favorite part of the book? Has the book provided you with the opportunity to mix it up with any

First-time author Natalie P. McNeal shares personal

In general, I love the narrative. That time in my life was pivotal. The

celebrities or anything of that nature?

lessons on finance in “The Frugalista Files”

risk. I especially love the “take a risk” portion of it. I don’t think enough

Well, from doing media tours, I have met a lot more television anchors,

people take risks. I never expected that being financially smart would

but I can’t say I’ve met Justin Bieber- yet!

“Frugalista plan” is to cut expenses, save money, have fun and take a

lead to becoming more confident. It’s a fun narrative for real people. Do you have any plans of writing a sequel or another book in the future?

You are an accomplished journalist who has written for several big time

What is the best tip you can give the people out there to live

newspapers. What made you want to write a book? Have you always planned on writing a book?

“the good life” on a tight budget.

I started blogging at my old employer a few years ago about trying to

You always have to remind yourself that being frugal is fabulous! Find

My agent keeps on bringing up writing another book. I’d love to get film rights optioned first! :)

save money and the blog was an instant success. The first month I blogged, I was on CNN. But there’s only so much you can say in a 300word blog post, so my readers would ask me about writing a book. I finally decided to give it a go, do a book proposal and shop a book around. I found a home at Harlequin. My book is the first personal finance book that Harlequin has published in its more than 60-year history. I think journalists always think about writing a book during their career, but I never knew what to write about. Frugalista was an easy sell! Was it hard to make the transition from journalist to author? Well, I think that newspapers and blogs support a different type of writing than a book. I spent the majority of my career writing quick, short stories on deadline. A book is easily a year-long project. It’s very labor intensive and you have to be disciplined. So it was hard work. Also, the book, The Frugalista Files: How One Woman Got Out of Debt is a personal finance memoir. I was used to writing the news about other people. It’s very hard to turn the pen on yourself and give details about your life in great detail. To write a memoir well, you have to “overshare” with the reader. So the transition was VER Y hard.

I think journalists always think about writing a book during their career

Author Seasoned journalist Natalie P. McNeal created and launched personal finance blog, The Frugalista Files, in 2008. She spent a month without getting her hair done, eating out or getting a manicure or pedicure. She saved $400 and took a “vow of frugality.” Through her blog, Natalie teaches people how to live the frugal and fabulous life. Her blog has been noted by the New York Times, Financial Times, L.A. Times, Washington Post ,, Philadelphia Inquirer, Miami Herald and Tallahassee Democrat. She’s served as a guest on CNN, NPR’s Talk of the Nation, CBS-4 and Miami Herald web television. The word frugalista was named a finalist for Word of the Year by the Oxford University Press. She is the savings expert for, a financial site. The Howard University graduate is a sought after public speaker on career development and saving on college campuses. Her work at the Miami Herald covering Caribbean-American politics in South Florida earned her a United Nations fellowship to Belo Horizonte Brazil. She is a past Donald Reynolds Foundation business fellow. She owns the trademark for “Frugalista.”

Q&A with Natalie McNeal "The Frugalista"  
Q&A with Natalie McNeal "The Frugalista"  

Natalie McNeal, journalist and published author, talks to MCH Training about her new book "The Frugalista Files: How one woman got out of de...