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Locals near top (bottom?) of the Most Frugal Cities in America list

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    Money, that's what I want.

    San Diegans have cut back on blowing mad money more than most city residents around the U.S., according to a report put together by a popular  personal-finance Web site.

    "Comparing 20 cities across 25 'discretionary' categories, we found that five cities spend less than the national average and cut more of their spending [year over year] than the national average," report the editors of Mint.com.

    The Most Frugal Cities in America report analyzed changes in discretionary spending since last year and show that San Diegans have cut their purchases of things like books and electronics by 23 percent year-to-year. The site also defines discretionary spending as money used to buy clothes, software or hobbies.

    "My girlfriends and I used to say, 'Oh, let's meet and walk around and browse the shops and shop'," said Ruthie Solari while picking through the relatively high-end, second-hand merchandise carried at Goodwill Industries' downtown thrift store.  "No longer.  Now we'll meet and go for a walk in the park, away from all the stores."

    Solari wound up selecting a brand-name, brushed suede coat with a leather belt and lapels that store employees estimated went for $200 retail -- priced by Goodwill at $14.95 pre-owned.  

    "Something like this", she noted, holding up a carved wooden serving tray, "at Crate & Barrel or The Cellar would be 30 dollars -- and you're getting it for five."

    Solari, a Cardiff resident who works at an office downtown, said she and her husband have begun making more frugal choices in everything they buy: "It's a good time to go, 'What do you need?'  Not 'What do you want'?"

    That sentiment was echoed by Tasha Mohney, a recent college graduate who's now looking for a full-time job.  "When I go to a movie, it's a treat," said Mohney, who lives in Linda Vista.  "When I get to go to sushi, that's a treat.  So I''ve definitely cut back on spending that's not necessary."  

    Nationally, U.S. residents lowered discretionary spending by 13 percent during the last year, according to Mint.com.

    The other cities singled out for spending less this past year and cutting back the most are Portland, Wash.; Miami, Fla.; Indianapolis; and Brooklyn (at 28 percent, the largest drop), which of course, is a borough of New York City and not a city, but Mint.com has broken it and "New York" -- which is presumably Manhattan -- out separately.

    The folks at Mint.com said they based their report on "aggregate data" collected from more than 1 million visitors to the site, which it claims is a "representative sampling of U.S. consumers."
     

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    Budget help from Mint.com