Book Review #7: “Save Karyn: One Shopaholic’s Journey to Debt and Back”

“To everyone who’s ever second-guessed a decision they’ve made, our past makes us who we are. Have no regrets.”
~Karyn Bosnak, 20 Times a Lady


One of my favorite places to look for books is in thrift stores.

I can’t remember when or where I bought this book, but I do remember that it sat on my bookshelf, collecting dust, begging to be read.

Toward the end of January, I picked it up for the first time in a long time, thinking it would be a good read on the plane for my recent trip to Florida.

Like “The Happiness Project,” I powered through most of this book by the end of that weekend. This book was quite a bit heftier than “The Happiness Project,” but I was very pleased with myself once I finished it.

It was really nice to be reading again!


I’ve always loved human-interest stories. I feel drawn to them. I’m fascinated by other people’s lives, especially those who have experienced tragedy, struggle, or hardship.

In several ways, I identified with Karyn.


First, there’s the settings of Chicago and New York City.

I was born in Manhattan. I have visited the city many, many times throughout my childhood because my parents took me back to the hospital where I was born prematurely, every year until I was in middle school. It has always been a special place for me. The city excites me. I love watching movies that involve NYC. I love the architecture. I love Central Park. I have had the opportunity to play at Carnegie Hall as a senior in high school in 2007, and visit The New York Times as part of my main college internship in 2010.

Personally, I would never want to live in a big city, but whenever I have an opportunity to visit, I will!

Photo montage!

Mount Sinai Hospital Image Credit: himetop.wikidot.com

Mount Sinai Hospital
Image Credit: himetop.wikidot.com

Central Park Image Credit: centralparktoursnyc.com

Central Park
Image Credit: centralparktoursnyc.com

Brooklyn Bridge Image Credit: www.trekearth.com

Brooklyn Bridge
Image Credit: http://www.trekearth.com

New York Public Library -  The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building Image Credit: www.nypl.org

New York Public Library –
The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
Image Credit: http://www.nypl.org

The New York Times Building Image Credit: www.forestcity.net

The New York Times Building
Image Credit: http://www.forestcity.net

Governors Island Image Credit: www.nydailynews.com

Governors Island
Image Credit: http://www.nydailynews.com

Carnegie Hall Image Credit: www.artsatl.com

Carnegie Hall
Image Credit: http://www.artsatl.com

Chicago is also an exciting city. I’ve been fortunate to visit there a few times, with one of my dad’s sisters having lived in one of the suburbs for almost 20 years. My heart will always default to NYC, but I look forward to the next chance that I can visit Chicago!


Second, managing money and spending beyond the means.

I’ve never considered myself to be a true “shopaholic,” but I have struggled with managing my money before. There were a few times in college where I didn’t any pay attention to my bank account – I thought I was being responsible, that I was okay.

I ended up overdrafting a couple of times over the course of a few months. That was absolutely mortifying. My parents were angry and upset, but they were more than willing to help me get back on track.

Ever since that wake-up call several years ago, I have tried really hard to get better with my money. Now, as Al’s fiance, I am preparing for our future together. I am more committed than ever to saving every penny that I can and I’ve been watching my accounts like a hawk. It feels so good to see my savings grow and grow. Every dollar counts!

I am proud to be currently debt-free, but I know that so many young adults like myself are not so lucky. Student loans, car loans, credit cards, mortgages, bills in general. I’m sure it feels like a never-ending cycle.


Seeing Karyn’s journey unfold from the pages made me laugh.

It made me cry.

It scared me straight.

As I was reading, I immediately thought back to last year, when I was winding down my 10-month stay in my apartment in Newport News. It was tough, those 10 months. Note – I never went without the essentials, I was able to pay my rent and utilities on time, but it felt like such a drain every month. I felt like I was never getting ahead. I was saving as much money as I could, but it was hard.

Moving back home was one of the hardest decisions ever, but it was one of the best decisions. I needed to experience my independence, for a little while. But I am more grateful that my parents let me come back home!

I have taken that amazing opportunity to squirrel away money like a madwoman, as much as I can, as fast as I can. It feels so good!!


In addition to saving away, I have finally started to realize just how much stuff (a.k.a., crap) I have.

A few weekends ago, I looked around my bedroom and I almost broke into tears. I felt overwhelmed. I felt greedy. I felt absolutely disgusted with myself.

I realized that at that moment, I was fortunate enough to have SEVERAL ROOMS in my parents’ house, rooms that were full of things that I called mine – Furniture, clothes, jewelry, shoes, books. It was too much. It was a tipping point.

I’ll elaborate more on that in a new post, but let’s just say it was a humbling and eye-opening experience.


In short, I took so much away from this one book. It helped me evaluate my life, where I am, and where I’m going. It was awesome!

This will be on my bookshelf forever. I plan to re-read it!!

Karyn is an inspiration. Her experiences from 1999-2002 are still relevant now, for so many.

She turned her life around, and it is so awesome to see that in those pages.

I would absolutely recommend this book.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

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