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Being THAT Guy

“When she said ‘I just paid off my student loans,’ I thought, WOW how did she do that. It makes you think what’s important and what’s not.”

“I like the positive role model thing.  I want to be this guy.”

These quotes are just a small sampling of feedback from the Feed the Pig’s target audience (25-34 year olds) after viewing the campaign’s newest PSAs during focus groups held earlier this year. Each TV spot highlights both the positive financial behavior—buying a home, saving in a 401(k) and paying off student loans—of one young adult or couple paralleled with the spending habits of their peers, who simply cannot believe there’s any money left over at the end of the month to save. (View all the new PSAs on the new Feed the Pig website.)

While the purchases of the “spenders” in each PSA may be over-the-top for most of us, the point is made, and, more importantly, received. In informal settings, when I get feedback from young adults about the ads, the initial response I most commonly hear is that the TV spots are funny. Then, more often than not, they pause and admit in a serious tone that they see themselves in the spender’s habits. 

What are the financial lives of these young adults like? Many are putting off managing their money, feeling like it’s something to be dealt with in the future, not today. Some are under employed, and many in their twenties are unemployed. They’ve lived through the Great Recession, experienced how it impacted their parents and grandparents, and don’t believe they will retire, or will need to retire. They may have changed their financial habits, such as carrying fewer credit cards and racking up less debt post-college, but this doesn’t necessary translate into increased savings and other positive financial habits. And, for better or worse, their friends play a huge role in influencing their money habits. They know they should be saving. Most even want to be saving and managing money, but they don’t know where to begin. They feel overwhelmed by the process and have a strong desire for clear, concise guidance that they can apply to their particular goals and lifestyle. 

The new Feed the Pig website provides that guidance, written by CPAs, for a variety of life goals this group is facing and serves it up in easy steps to help them achieve these milestones. In addition, the new site incorporates great community features to allow visitors to connect with their peers via social media to create conversation and motivation for saving.

Since its launch in 2006, Feed the Pig has received more than 75 awards and $220 million in donated media in the last seven years. Last year, our financial literacy campaign was the top Ad Council campaign for donated media, beating out perennial PSA campaign like Smokey Bear (wildfire prevention), and just last month the campaign’s advertising received the Ad Council’s coveted Gold Bell for Creative Excellence.

While these accolades are an incredible honor, they, more importantly, confirm the clear need for our campaign. Our message is hitting home. Slowly, but steadily, young adults are changing their habits. What advice do you have for young adults trying to reach their financial goals, whether saving $100 per month or saving for their first home?

Melora Heavey, Senior Communications Manager - Consumer Education, American Institute of CPAs. Melora manages the CPA profession’s volunteer effort, 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy, and the award-winning public service campaign, Feed the Pig. She serves as the staff liaison to the National CPA Financial Literacy Commission, the leadership body and primary spokespeople for 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy.

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