Penny-pinching skills could win WSU $10,000

(Graphic by Jake McIntosh) Cheapster is a reality show in which 13 different college students from Idaho and Utah compete for a $10,000 cash prize and an additional $10,000 for their schools. WSU students are encouraged to visit to submit video applications.

Calling all penny-pinchers, tightwads and coupon-clippers. Zions Bank is holding the second installment of its Cheapster reality show series, in which 13 different college students from Idaho and Utah compete for a $10,000 cash prize and an additional $10,000 for their schools.

The online reality series will feature students going to the extreme to show off their frugality and penny-pinching lifestyles. Students in the seven episodes from last season were seen Dumpster-diving, shopping at Deseret Industries and creating gourmet meals on budgets.

“We hope to make it bigger and better and cheaper this year,” said Bradley Herbert, vice president of sales and marketing at Zions Bank. “These challenges are asking them (the contestants) to prove it.”

One contestant from last season showed off his penny-pinching skills by living in a tent, while another sewed up rips in the same pair of shorts twice. A goal of the series is to suggest a healthy and practical economical lifestyle.

“We’re looking for sustainable frugality,” Herbert said.

The show is looking for someone to define what it actually means to save money and time. The long-lasting and maintainable thriftiness is the definition of a true cheapster.

“You can only live in a tent for so long,” he said.

The reality series is designed to not only educate students about having a financial plan, but also urges students to have fun while saving money by showcasing the crazy and creative ways that people save.

“You need to have original ways of saving money,” said Eric Richardson, a participant from last season.

Richardson, a senior at Utah State University, knows a few people from his school who are applying for the chance to be crowned this season’s “ultimate cheapster.”

Wildcats are encouraged to enter the contest by submitting video applications at and also tune in to episodes from last season. Contestants will be chosen based on casting calls held in late September, and the final 13 contestants will be narrowed down by an online public vote and a Zions Bank panel of judges.

Herbert said he hopes there will be a school-against-school rivalry with the 13 contestants, and that contestants and their fellow students will stay in active participation once the season airs.

“We want people to rally around their school,” Herbert said, “especially since the $10,000 prize will be going to their school.”

This season, Cheapster will only have four episodes. With the fewer challenges, Herbert said he advises students to come more prepared to demonstrate and prove how cheap they are.

Cheapster will air online in October and November, so students ages 18-26 wanting to participate need to submit initial applications by Sept. 14. Students can like Cheapster on Facebook or visit to stay involved and up to date with information about the contest.