Expert Interview with Natalie McNeal on Being Frugal and Fabulous for Mint

Natalie McNeal, a self-dubbed Frugalista, loves how smart spending and saving have helped build her bank account - but she hates the perception that just because she's frugal means she's a miser.

"I hate that people think that frugal people are cheap," the personal finance and lifestyles blogger writes. "We just value money. I still buy birthday gifts for friends and treat myself to nice things."

Here, she tells us about her blog, The Frugalista, offers advice on stretching your dollars for fashion and beauty, and shares tips on how to get started making money online. Read on:

Tell us about Frugalista...when and why did you start your site?

I started in 2008. I had about $20,000 worth of debt from student loans, credit cards and professional expenses. I needed a plan to get rid of it. I went on a No-Buy Month: I didn't dine out, pay for entertainment or spend any money on non-essentials. I blogged the entire experience and the Frugalista brand took off. I saved about $400 and my life was changed.

You're a self-described makeup junkie...what are some of your go-to ways for saving money on beauty products?

I use Vitamin E oil to moisturize my lips, hands and hair. You can buy it generic from any chain drug store. You can find a decent flat iron at T.J. Maxx or Amazon. I'll mix my chestnut brown lip liner with different lipstick colors and a dab of clear gloss to create new hues of lip color.

What types of beauty products do you splurge on?

I buy MAC and Bobbi Brown cosmetics. I mix two different MAC bronzers together for the perfect glow.

You also mentioned that you love fashion bargains...where do you shop to nab great deals?

I like the Saks Off Fifth and Neiman Marcus's Last Call outlets. The clothing is the best quality, and the prices are much lower than retail and often go on sale.

Forever 21 has affordable, trendy costume jewelry. I enjoy shopping at ASOS for trendy clothing because the price points are extremely accessible. I hate paying too much for clothing that's not classic. ASOS has a size for just about every div type, too.

Tell us about one of your latest frugal fashion finds...what did you score and where did you get it?

I ran wild at Nordstrom Rack and I purchased a pair of black leggings with a leather stripe down the sides for $20. They are perfect for date night or partying with your friends.

For people who are looking for some side income as bloggers, what advice do you have on getting started?

It's important to be credible first, so people believe what you are saying and want to follow you. Also consider joining a blogging network. I'm a member of BlogHer. Also, think of the blog as your platform, and consider other areas for revenue. I wrote a book, The Frugalista Files: How One Woman Got Out of Debt Without Giving Up the Fabulous Life.

What are some good habits every successful blogger develops?

Remember the two Cs: consistency and credibility.

What about some bad habits you've had to ditch?

If you're a blogger, you can meet a lot of people. It's important to take a little time for yourself. A lot of bloggers go through burnout from engaging on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, their blogs and with people in real life. It's OK to unplug or decline some invitations. Self-care is important.

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