Zions Bank is on a mission to find the cheapest students in Utah and is willing to give $20,000 away to the top Cheapster.
Heidi Prokop, communications manager at Zions Bank, explained what research went into targeting college-aged people, why the bank is interested in finding cheap students, and what the reward money is for.
“Zions Bank a few years back wanted to do some research about the college-aged demographic and how they related with money and banks; (we wanted to know) what they were doing with their financial situations,” she said. “What we found in our research was most of them were really proud to be thrifty and penny pinchers. It was not uncool to use coupons on a date and that kind of thing.”
The research sparked an idea for some members of the bank.
“We wanted to capitalize on this fun idea that [students] are proud to be cheap, so we came up with Cheapster,” Prokop said. “Last year we launched this Web reality series and it’s kind of like ‘Survivor’ of the cheap.”
Zions Bank is resurrecting Cheapster again this year, but with some changes.
According to the press release, “Zions Bank wants you to compete for a spot in the second installment of its Cheapster reality show series, where college and university students will battle for a $10,000 grand prize and — new this year — an additional $10,000 for their school.”
Elizabeth Neff, public relations officer at Zions Bank, said 13 students from Utah and Idaho will be chosen to compete in Cheapster.
“We are looking for people who are doing both the standard cheap-type things but also taking it to the next level,” she said.
Every school in Utah will have a student represent it in the competition.
“We are going to make sure we have a student from every school,” Prokop said. “Just go to the website and answer the question, ‘Why are you a cheapster?’ Then they will compete against students from the other schools in Utah.”
A Zions Bank panel of judges and an online public vote will determine the final 13 contestants after the casting calls during the end of September.
“The 13 contestants will tape in Salt Lake City so we will provide support with travel since we know they are cheap,” Neff said. “We don’t want to throw them over the financial edge.”
Last year’s Cheapster champion was Lori Thompson, a Utah State University student from Duchesne. According to a press release, she won by showing her skills in the Dumpster diving, cheap cooking and thrift store fashion portions of the completion.
“Being frugal is a reality that college students face every day, but the key to being prepared for life’s unknown challenges is effectively budgeting your money,” Thompson said. “I’ve always enjoyed finding deals and getting the best bang for my buck, and Cheapster really put my penny-pinching talents to the test. My winnings will be a huge help in pursuing my future career in physical therapy.”
According to a press release, Rob Brough, executive vice president of Zions Bank’s Corporate Marketing and Communications departments, described the educational goals behind Cheapster.
“Our goal with Cheapster is to capture the challenges and benefits of sticking to a budget, while adding the excitement of a reality show competition,” he said. “Zions Bank is dedicated to helping our clients understand that thoughtful money management contributes to a lifetime of financial success. Financial education doesn’t have to be boring. In fact, we’re making it entertaining.”
Cheapter isn’t all about being cheap, but being creatively cheap.
“From Dumpster diving to walking the runway in thrift store fashions, each Cheapster contestant demonstrated superior money-management skills, along with creativity, throughout the competition,” Brough said. “Being a Cheapster means securing the best deal and also searching for the best value. Lori was the master of both techniques and is a well-deserved recipient of the Cheapster grand prize.”
Prokop said last year’s competitors were mainly from Utah State and Brigham Young University.
“I think Dixie students need to have a good showing,” Prokop said. “This is a good chance for a Dixie student to really raise the profile even more for what southern Utah students are up to.”
Students can apply for the completion in three different ways: first, fill out a form at http://www.CheapsterTV.com; second, text “CHEAPSTERTV 2” to 368266; third, visit a local Zions Bank branch for a form. The entry deadline is September 14.