Imagine a reality show that mixes the voyeuristic consumption of Keeping Up With the Kardashians with the competition of Survivor. Except it's a Web site. Devoted to helping its users spend smarter. "Once you see how people like you are handling their money," says Jaidev Shergill, founder and CEO of Bundle, a startup backed by Citigroup, Microsoft, and Morningstar, "you can use that information to better manage your own." Bundle is the latest — and most powerful — tool to tap aggregated data for personal-finance decision making, building on FiLife (crowdsource answers to money questions), Blippy (share credit-card buys online), and Mint (gain insights into your personal spending). Bundle, which has already attracted more than 250,000 users, asks them a few simple questions, then crawls spending data gleaned from the U.S. government and Citigroup to find their financial doppelgängers. Users can then "go deep" to see a full budget breakdown — including, say, how much people like them spend each month. Below, a look at how several major U.S. cities stack up.
San Franciscans who make $125,000 or more a year spend less of their monthly budget on electronics (average: $98) than their peers in Des Moines ($169), New Orleans ($130), and Omaha ($114).
Louisville's best salaried ($125,000-plus) spend considerably more on dining each month than people who make less than $20,000 a year ($622 versus $114). No surprise there, but between both groups, top spots include McDonald's, Olive Garden, Cracker Barrel, and Ruth's Chris Steak House.
Detroit residents spend far less on both gas ($116/month) and auto expenses ($142/month) than those in other Midwestern metropolises, such as Milwaukee ($245 and $339, respectively), Columbus ($234 and $340), and Chicago ($219 and $265).
Six-figure earners in Los Angeles spend less of their monthly budget on personal care (average: $295) than their counterparts in New York ($391), Austin ($384), and Washington, D.C. ($303). Among all, Sephora is the most popular retailer.
Every month, Nashville residents give $333, or 6% of their total budget, to charity, making it the most generous city in the South. Runner-up: Durham ($312).
New Yorkers are the nation's big spenders on travel and leisure ($971/month, not including dining out). Runners-up: Arlington, Virginia ($597), Washington, D.C. ($572), and Scottsdale, Arizona ($565).
A version of this article appeared in the May 2010 issue of Fast Company magazine.