Beeline Interview: Personal Finance Blogger Frugal Zeitgeist

Aside from the fashion, food, music, and comedy blogs I follow; I also read personal finance blogs. Frugal Zeitgeist paid off her mortgage for her NYC apartment in SIX years and inspires me to live within my means (my collection of shoes and bags will attest otherwise). She shares some tips and some favorite eats around the city.

Name: Frugal Zeitgeist
Occupation: Shadowy anonymous personal finance blogger
Borough/Neighborhood: Manhattan-wide

Tell us a little about your personal finance blog and how you got started: I’ve been a personal finance dork for many years, ever since I embarked on an existence as a broke-ass grad student in New York City. I started blogging about it in 2007, when I had about two years left on my accelerated mortgage payment plan. Living hand to mouth in order to pay off my mortgage quickly was starting to get to me, so I thought that writing about personal finance would give me the kick in the butt I needed to stay motivated and focused. It worked: I paid off the mortgage in just over six and a half years in total, and now I’m saving up for a kick-ass early retirement.

What was the original idea behind the blog? How has it evolved over the years? The original idea was to write about ways to cut the costs of daily living in pursuit of a larger goal, but you can only do so many posts on washing out plastic baggies. Current topics include privacy, travel, home ownership and maintenance, family finances, career growth, stupid things I have done, and a whole lot more.

What do you think is the essence of living frugally? Spending less than you earn and in accordance with your personal values and happiness index. Really, it doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that.

Other inspiring personal finance or other blogs? (Any fellow NYers?)

Favorite place to eat in the neighborhood: Well, given that I think of all of Manhattan as my neighborhood, I’ll suggest Pongsri Thai on 46th between 8th and 9th It’s affordable Thai food in pleasant surroundings, and the tables aren’t squeezed together so tight that you can grab food off of other people’s plates.

Little known fact about your neighborhood: According to the Google, in the 1660’s New York City’s “skyline” was dominated by a two-story-high windmill.

Favorite watering hole: My idea of a good place to drink is my sofa with a few friends and a bottle of three buck chuck. When I go out, I’m partial to the 79th Street Boat Basin, as long as it’s summer and not pissing down rain. For the craft beer aficionado who prefers to stay indoors, David Copperfield’s on the Upper East Side has a great, ever-changing selection.

Best pizza in your hood: Lombardi’s down on Spring Street is the real thing: as the oldest pizzeria in the country, they know a thing or two about how to do it best.

Best coffee in your hood: The black tar that comes out of my coffeepot on weekend mornings. It’ll put hair on your chest if you don’t already have it; if you do, your chest hair just might fall out.

If there was a movie of your life, what neighborhood would grace the opening scene? Hands down, it would have to be the waterfront in Portland, Oregon. I like to think that I haven’t forgotten my roots, and if Oregon didn’t have the second-worst unemployment rate in the nation, I’d be sorely tempted to pack up and move.

What is your all time favorite monster and/or horror movie? The original Terminator. Whoever let that McG guy direct Terminator Salvation should be arrested.

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