DENVER—Almost everyone admits it: Four in five American adults have made impulse purchases in the past year for themselves, others and/or their home. And, according to an online survey commissioned by the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) and conducted by Harris Interactive in August 2010, two-thirds of these adults (66 percent) later regretted an impulse purchase.
But how many Americans would be willing to make a public confession revealing to the entire country what they wasted their money on? It turns out, when offered a chance at some financial redemption, a lot would.
From high school students to retirees, more than 140 people participated in the Spendster Second Chance video contest, divulging their wayward spending decisions for a chance to win back some of their misspent money. With confessions ranging from misspelled tattoos and motorcycles to craft supplies and guitars, entrants revealed their stories in an attempt to win cash prizes, ranging from $250 to $1,000.
“The diversity of the people and their stories shows that everyone makes purchases they regret at one time or another,” says Paul Golden, spokesperson for NEFE, the contest’s sponsor. “But the lesson here is that people learn from those spending slipups so they’re not wasting even more money in the future.”
“I already knew I had overspending behaviors. [The contest] helped me realize how I should better think about my purchases in the future,” says Chelsea Case of Grand Blanc, Mich., the $1,000 grand prize winner of the Spendster Second Chance contest. “I was thinking to myself what the most ridiculous thing I spend money on is. For me, it’s little items and it’s the little things that really add up. And it’s stuff that I don’t really need.”
Contest runner-up Tyler Shuman certainly learned his lesson after handing over a couple hundred dollars to a “crane” game in an arcade trying to win an iPhone (which he never was able to grab).
“I just kept giving money to this [crane game] because I thought I was going to win the [iPhone], when I could’ve just walked to the store and bought an iPhone for that much money,” says Shuman, in his video submission.
Shuman, whose girlfriend witnessed the crane event, used some of his $750 prize money to take her out for a nice dinner for their one-year anniversary.
The Spendster Second Chance contest was held on www.spendster.org from September 30, 2010, to November 4, 2010. Spendster is an online video confessional where Americans can share stories of impulse buys, poor spending habits and purchases they later regret. The website recognizes that everyone has a junk drawer or garage cluttered full of useless stuff, and it encourages them to calculate what their money could have been worth had they not wasted it away on stuff they didn’t need. It also provides users with helpful resources and articles to help them clear the clutter from their lives and get back on track.
When asked if she had used the tools on spendster.org to calculate the total cost of her misspending, Case did not hesitate in her response.
“No way! It would hurt too much for me to calculate those amounts,” Case says.
But still, Case discovered a profound learning experience by participating in the contest.
“Everyone overspends. If we take the time to realize what we are spending our money on then we can change our habits easier,” she says. “It’s easier to recognize and change our habits now so that it benefits us in the long run.”
NEFE will host another Spendster contest in 2011, but in the meantime, Americans can join the movement of confessing their spending habits via video—or watching other Spendsters confess theirs—at www.spendster.org.
Note to Media
Are you interested in knowing how your viewers and readers waste their money? Run a Spendster contest in your market! Spendster contests require no financial obligation on the part of your outlet. For more details, contact Paul Golden at 303-224-3514 or email@example.com.
About Spendster Second Chance
Entrants in the Spendster Second Chance contest who submitted a video answering the question, “What have you wasted your money on?” were eligible to win back some of the cash they have burned through, ranging from $250 to $1,000. The contest, sponsored by the National Endowment for Financial Education® (NEFE®), ran September 30, 2010, to November 4, 2010. To view all of the entries, visit www.spendster.org/secondchance.
Harris Interactive Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of NEFE from August 25-27, 2010, among 2,273 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, click here