Money cart rewards student contestants answering financial questions

University students had several opportunities to hitch a ride and earn some prizes on the side this school year.

The Student Money Management Services operated a Money Cart, a golf cart trivia game designed like the popular television show “Cash Cab,” said Patricia Donnelly, program director of the SMMS.

“We have all kinds of fun with it,” she said.

Like the TV show, the Money Cart can pull up to students and offer them a ride across campus.

Students then answer financial trivia questions and have the opportunity to win prizes such as coffee mugs, University souvenirs and a $5 Bookstore gift card, Donnelly said.

SMMS usually hosts the Money Cart in April and September of every year in hopes of catching the best possible weather, she said.

Students have three “life lines” when answering questions. They can either phone a friend, ask for help from someone on the street or pass on a question, said Heather Wilson, financial coordinator for SMMS.

Some students were reluctant to play the Money Cart game, probably because at first glance it looks as if SMMS is asking for money instead of trying to teach about it, Donnelly said.

“Sometimes it takes a little convincing to get students on,” she said.

However, once students understood the game they are reluctant to get off the cart, Donnelly said.

“We haven’t had anyone beg us to get off yet,” she said. “It’s enjoyable for the students who ride along.”

The money cart has been an annual occurrence at the University since 2009, and SMMS plans on continuing the game in the fall, Donnelly said.

SMMS has a $500 budget for the game every year, which is dispersed across the cost of some prizes and general upkeep of the money cart, she said.

It’s not unusual for more than 100 students to ride the money cart on a day with good weather, Donnelly said.

But winning the grand prize Bookstore gift card is a challenge that most students fail to accomplish, she said.

During spring semester just over 50 students won the grand prize by answering all the financial questions correctly, she said.

Those figures have been typical during the course of the entire semester since the game began, Donnelly said.

Students are able to play the money cart game as many times as they like. Oftentimes multiple students ride along and play at the same time, said Chelsea York, a graduate assistant who has been a quizzer on the money cart.

The Money Cart sometimes invites University employees as “celebrity quizzers” who ask questions to students. University Provost Rodney Rogers as well as several professors have gotten involved in this way, Donnelly said.

“It gives the faculty and the staff a chance to mingle with students,” Donnelly said.

The SMMS thinks it’s important to run the Money Cart not only as a way to have fun, but also to educate students about the perils of the financial world before they graduate, Wilson said.

“Look at the state of our economy,” she said. “Too many poor decisions have been made.”

Wilson hopes the Money Cart can help the University send financially-savvy individuals into the workforce after graduation, Wilson said.

“A lot of students don’t realize the [financial] perils that exist,” she said. “We can educate them and have some fun at the same time.”