Cheap is the new black. It's hip to be spare. Frugal = fabulous. But according to a new map that shows the most frugal cities in America produced by the personal finance Web site, Mint.com, San Francisco is yet again lagging behind on a trend, trailing both Los Angeles and New York -- among other cities. The map indicates that in the last year, consumers in San Francisco cut their discretionary spending by 19 percent, while Los Angelinos cut theirs by 25 percent, and New Yorkers by 26 percent (it is unclear if this includes Brooklyn, which appears as a separate city from New York on the map. Last I checked, the borough was incorporated into The Big Apple in 1898 -- and that's still the case, no?).
Could it be that crunchy-granola San Franciscans are, in fact, less inclined to give up their doggy day spas and diamond facials than (gulp) Hollywood?
According to the Web site, the map was created using aggregate data from over 1 million Mint.com users, and compares 20 cities (with Brooklyn counting as a city, of course) across 25 "discretionary" categories including clothes, books, hobbies, and sporting goods. On average, the nation's consumers cut excess spending by 13 percent, which means at least San Francisco is still a tad more frugal than the norm.
The site also extrapolated how cities are flaunting their excess wealth. For example, the data suggests that San Franciscans spend more discretionary cash than anyone but New Yorkers on clothes (throwing down, on average, around $220 per month on clothes, according to the site). Meanwhile, folks in Chicago apparently buy the most books in the nation ($70 per month), and Portland denizens spend the most on sporting goods ($50 per month).
Seventy bucks per month on books is a bit high, Chicago, but at least you're getting smarter. And Portland, we totally get the $50 per month on sporting goods: y'all have to take care of those bikes somehow. But, egad: if it's true that the average San Franciscan is spending $220 on clothes per month, we probably deserve whatever sort of economic Armageddon that comes our way.