Black Blogger Month: The Frugalista, Blogging on a Budget

Being frugal pays off for personal finance blogger and author Natalie P. McNeal

Personal finance blogger/journalist Natalie P. McNeal

The frugal and fabulous McNeal

Oftentimes when people hear the word frugal they think of cheap, but not finance blogger, Natalie McNeal, who learned the hard way how to make budgeting a way of life while still being fabulous. After realizing she was sinking in $20,000 worth of debt from credit cards and student loans, the seasoned journalist decided to get disciplined by limiting her expenses for one whole month in 2008 and chronicling it in her blog, The Frugalista. The result of cutting corners on most of her luxuries was saving an estimated $400 and launching one of the most popular personal finance blogs on the Internet. The 35-year old, who lives and operates out of South Florida, has since been a featured money expert on CNN and Martha Stewart Living Radio, as well as being quoted by The New York Times, Washington Post and more. She was also named one of Success South Florida Magazine‘s Top 40 under 40.

Proving that the longevity as a blogger is in brand extensions, McNeal is now the first author to publish a memoir on personal finance in the 62-year history of major publisher, Harlequin Books, which released The Frugalista Files: How One Woman Got Out of Debt Without Giving Up the Fabulous Life this past December. With her practical, honest and witty personal finance advice, McNeal shares her expertise with BlackEnterprise.com as part of our first annual Black Blogger Month. —Souleo

The Frugalista stands out because…

It’s highly personal finance and I share a lot of my struggles and my triumphs to maintain my money. I’m coming from an eye level approach and I don’t preach or rant.

The biggest mistake I ever made in business was…

Not delegating was a mistake. It’s a lot of project management. I have a book, Twitter and Facebook group so it’s not just about the blog anymore. It’s been very hard to juggle all the different media and make sure that I’m reaching people the way they want to be reached all the time.

What I learned from that was…

In order to grow I probably need to bring in an assistant.

Networking has helped me to…

Form relationships. I met my literary agent and got my AOL job through Facebook. I also try to go to lunch and meet people offline. Everything I got has been through networking.

The best investment I ever made was…

A writing course at MediaBistro.com, which taught me about wording in building an online brand. It was $600 but well worth the money.

Natalie P. McNeal's The Frugalista logo

Building a brand is important because…

It shows that you have a following. People hire you for your skills and those who want to follow what you do.

The best piece of business advice I ever got was…

From my neighbor, who told me to do a little bit of business with people first and then decide to do more. Don’t close yourself off to new opportunities or networking but start small and see how that person works. That way before it gets too deep you can back off if you need to.

I measure my success by…

Honestly, the money. Money talks and my words have a value. I enjoy the media coverage I’ve gotten, however, if you can’t translate that to income then you’re just high profile.

In business, you should never be afraid to…

Take risks. If I hadn’t decided to take that buyout from The Miami Herald [where I was a reporter] and focus full-time online I wouldn’t have a career. After taking a risk I know I can land on my feet no matter what because I have done it before.

Proper money management is important in business because…

You have to do a lot yourself. It’s good to start off yourself and know how much things cost and you need that to grow and to pay employees. So you have to be financially sound yourself.

You don’t have to spend a lot to look good because…

There are too many sales out there. There are samples sales, holiday sales and Groupon. You have friends who can give stuff away and you can be creative with things in your closet.

The one thing money can’t buy is…

A life. You have to find time to go out and enjoy it, which can be hard to do.

Be sure to check out the rest of the digital thought leaders as they’re revealed each day by logging on to BlackEnterprise.com/BlackBloggerMonth.

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