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The Atlantic.com has named San Diego one of the five most frugal cities in the U.S. -- thus tying for the 2009 Frugal Fannie award. The publication selected major cities whose consumers' discretionary spending is below average, and also dropped by the most over the last year. The five cities are San Diego (spending down 23%), Portland (21%), Brooklyn (28%), Indianapolis (14%) and Miami (16%). Some cities dropped a lot more in percentage terms, but don't qualify for the award because spending is above average. For example, Los Angeles was down 25% and San Jose down 27% but they are big spenders. Data came from Mint.com. The Atlantic says "San Diego and Miami are both victims of their states' horrible bout of real estate implosion and credit crisis."

Comments
10

Wow. Could it possibly be that more than half of many families' income goes to rent?

Sept. 17, 2009

Response to post #1: It's probably true of some families. Best, Don Bauder

Sept. 17, 2009

The OLD rule of thumb is that no one should spend more than 1/3 of net income on housing.

So if you cleared $1,500 per month you would not be spending more than $500 on housing costs.

The problem, especially acute in places like San Diego, is that housing can exceed 50% of net income today, and for lower income earners (minimum wage to $12/hour) it can exceed 80% or more of net income.

Sept. 17, 2009

Response to post #3: Those old rules of thumb weren't relevant back when the San Diego market was sizzling in 2005. But since prices have come down more than 40%, they may be getting back some of their relevance. Best, Don Bauder

Sept. 17, 2009

This is no surprise. Years ago, and I doubt that things have changed all that much at many SD employers, one's pay consisted of real and "sunshine" dollars. Until 1970-75, when the cost of living, especially housing, was low, that wasn't a huge issue. But when costs went up and the pay still lagged, many local folks were in a bind. You could not use sunshine dollars to pay for rent, gasoline, auto insurance, most sorts of recreation, etc., etc.

If you look around the area, you will see areas of the county and plenty of people who appear highly affluent. But that group doesn't extend down very far into the middle income range. A notch or two lower down the scale, and those folks have little discretionary or disposable income once they've chosen a neighborhood or lifestyle.

As long as so many people really want to live here in SD county, regardless of the cost, prices will be high, incomes low, and frugality will be forced on a big slice of the population.

Sept. 18, 2009

Response to post #5: It's called the "sunshine tax" or "psychic income." San Diego household incomes are moderately above the national average but the cost of living ranges up to 50% above the national average, depending on when it is measured. Best, Don Bauder

Sept. 18, 2009

Don,

A little off topic, but the VofSD had an article today on the death of Ruth McKinnie Braun from a rare form of Lymphoma. The article said she was "education editor for San Diego News Network and a longtime reporter for the Union-Tribune" and one of your articles mentioned her camping out at the UT to get one of the golden handshakes last year that was refused to her husband, Gerry Braun.

http://www.voiceofsandiego.org/articles/2009/09/23/this_just_in/475brightandearly092209.txt

I wonder if her illness had any bearing on his taking a high paying job with the mayor that presumably came with good medical.

Sept. 22, 2009

Response to post #7: I don't think so. First, the U-T had good medical coverage, although there were questions at the time about the company's viability, just as there are now. Second, she had battled breast cancer about 15 years ago, and believed she had conquered it. Then this rare cancer came up only a short time ago -- many months after Jerry had left the U-T. Best, Don Bauder

Sept. 22, 2009

That is awful news....cancer.

Have a friend that has it right now-and hopefully it will work out. She has excellent medical.

If I got cancer I would be dead because I have no medical.

Sept. 22, 2009

Response to post #9: Cancer has a terrible way of recurring. Best, Don Bauder

Sept. 23, 2009

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