Internet reality series favors frugal students


Justin Smith

Pulling old bakery items out of a dumpster for lunch, requesting free shampoo samples from manufactures, joining BYU clubs just for the free pizza, opening bank accounts for the perks and filling up old ketchup bottles with free ketchup packets are just a few things the contestants on the new Internet reality show Cheapster had to do to make it on the show.

Cheapster is a new series presented by Zions Bank featuring college students ages 18-26 from Utah and Idaho who have the chance to prove they can scrimp and save their way to win $10,000.

“I just order a glass of water, use everyone’s free lemons and sugar packets to make lemonade and then eat the leftovers from the table next to ours when they leave,” said Rob Towne, a sophomore studying marketing. “I use my hot pot after cooking Ramen to iron my clothes so I don’t have to buy an iron. I traded a free T-shirt with a hotdog vendor for free lunch. I even wash paper plates.”

Ten contestants have been selected through casting calls and public votes on Facebook from BYU and other college campuses. Challenges will be filmed and posted to the Internet showing participants completing thrifty tasks with predetermined funds on a Zions Bank debit card. Upon completion of the challenges, contestants will be scored on creativity and frugality as determined by the amount of money remaining on their debit card and a panel of judges. During each round, the lowest scoring participant will be eliminated.

“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,” said Brad Herbert, vice president and emerging market manager of Zions Bank. “Zions Bank is dedicated to educating our customers on healthy financial habits, and helping them understand that thoughtful money management contributes to a lifetime of financial success.”

At the conclusion of the series, the last remaining contestant will be named the ultimate Cheapster winner and receive a cash prize of $10,000. Contestants eliminated during the show will keep the money they saved while competing.

“All my friends say I’m the cheapest person they know,” Towne said. “They just make fun of me but I figure, hey, why not enter and have fun with it?”

You can vote for Cheapster contestants on Facebook at

Although casting calls have closed to new entries, you can follow the series as it begins at






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