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Eau Claire a hotbed for cheapskates?

Lauren Kurkowski

Who ever said being cheap was a bad thing? My wise grandparents taught me the art of penny pinching, and I'm proud to say I'm a cheapskate. I love finding great deals, and I'm always amazed at the quality you can find for inexpensive prices.

Lucky for me, living in Eau Claire has helped me in my frugal endeavors. As many, many, many of you were quick to point out last week, according to a Yahoo Finance article, the Eau Claire metro area is one of the top 10 inexpensive cities in the U.S.

Their criteria considers metropolitan areas where the cost of living was low compared to the average income – places where each dollar can stretch a lot further. The cities that made the list have cost-of-living scores below the national average of "100," according to the Council for Community and Economic Research.

The article also considers free activities, like outdoor trails, camping, museums, and libraries. They also counted the number of Dollar Generals within a 30 mile radius. Eau Claire's stats put us at #7 on the list:

Metro population: 161,151
Average household income:
 $60,025
Cost of living score:
 90.3
Museums and libraries in metro area:
 11
Dollar Generals in a 30-mile radius:
 3
Must-see freebie:
 Lake Wissota, a 6,300-acre lake

Yahoo Finance, 5-3-12

In addition to Lake Wissota and our dynamic trio of Dollar Stores, the article also boasts of the Chippewa Valley Trail System, our city’s fine planetarium, the plethora of concerts hosted by UW-Eau Claire, and our celebrated cranberry museum. What, what?

It’s true. Of all things, Yahoo does indeed list “cranberry museum” as an affordable jewel in our crown. Obviously, this raises a number of challenges to the legitimacy of the article. First and foremost, while a truly remarkable fruit, are cranberries (and museums dedicated to them) really that attractive to money-conscious citizens? And perhaps less important but still worth mentioning, we don’t actually have a cranberry museum. Make no mistake, Wisconsin’s high concentration of acidic bogs have made us the nation’s leading producer of cranberries, but sadly, Eau Claire has never been home to a museum built in their honor. So, thanks for the shout-out, Yahoo Finance, but who writes this stuff?

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