Success StoryUse Less, Spend Wi$e

Use Less, Spend Wi$e

Author: Deborah Messenger

Planning Unit: Cumberland County CES

Major Program: Financial Education - General

Plan of Work: Thriving Individuals, Strong Families

Outcome: Initial Outcome

Americans spent more than $1 trillion dollars during the holidays in 2018. That number rose another 4.5% in 2019. While holiday spending at an all-time high pre-pandemic, many families across Kentucky may have less to spend during the 2020 holiday season. COVID-19 financial challenges might cause people to adjust their holiday budgets. When tighter budgets are coupled with pandemic-related supply shortages, it is important to learn smarter ways to stretch consumer dollars and resources. To raise awareness and help consumers meet this need, the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service challenged families to join the Use Less, Spend Wi$e Challenge during mid-November. Participants completed activities designed to help them use less, spend wisely, and discover low-cost ways to connect with others. 

Challenge participants received a list of activities from their county Kentucky Cooperative Extension office. The challenges were divided by three categories: USE LESS, SPEND WI$ELY, and PRICELESS. Participants were to complete six or more activities, then submit the survey at the official challenge link by 11:59 p.m. EST on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020 — Use Less Stuff Day.

The Cumberland County Extension Office participated in the Use Less, Spend Wi$e Challenge. During mid-November, 26 consumers filled out the survey, indicating that a total of 83 household members participated. 

Participants were asked to complete an online evaluation survey following the challenge. Of the 26 survey respondents, 51 activities were completed from the “use less” category, such as hydrate from home and declutter a space; 46 activities were completed from the “spend 

wisely” category, such as be a barista, channel your chef, and pack a lunch; and 77 activities were completed from the “priceless” category, such as take a hike and get your game on.

Of the respondents, 11 reported keeping a daily spending diary, ranging from a day to about a week. One learned from this how much it could save to pack lunches, and another learned spontaneous spending happened more when carrying cash. Also, two reported using the Basic Budget Builder worksheet during the challenge. Of the respondents, 13 identified personal spending leaks during the challenge, including online shopping, snacks/candy, soda/beverages, and food/eating out.

About 16 of the participants participated as a class project. The other 10 participants noted a range of reasons for participating, such as reducing waste, creating savings, learning more, and managing time better. One participant said, “I thought it was a great program, and I certainly could use encouragement in this area!”

When asked, about a third of the participants noted that they learned the most about responsibility. Two noted that they learned they spend money on things they don’t really need, and another two learned to spend quality time with family. Others learned about their spending habits and how to manage money. At least one participant plans to continue using these materials into the future.

One participant said, “There are many ‘conveniences’ that are nearly as convenient from home, while saving money and eliminating waste.” Another said, “There are lots of ways to save money and our environment.”

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