U.P. Credit Union Members Save $500K

Local credit union members in Upper Michigan, including in the Marquette and Escanaba regions, saved more than $500,000 in 2011 through Save to Win, an innovative program that enters members into drawings for prizes, according to figures released by the Michigan Credit Union League. The numbers were released as a credit union member in the Lansing area was announced as the $100,000 statewide Grand Prize winner for 2011.

“The members of Ishpeming Community Federal Credit Union are really excited to be part of a program like Save to Win, which makes saving money fun and encourages our members to set money aside on a regular basis,” said George Isola, general manager at Ishpeming Community Federal Credit Union. “We continue to get great feedback and support from our members. They’re the real winners when they can save money regularly. And that’s what Save to Win is designed to help them do.”

Through Dec. 31, 2011, credit unions serving communities in the Upper Peninsula and participating in Save to Win reported their members had saved the following:

Ishpeming Community Federal Credit Union: $154,810.94 saved by 154 members

Peninsula Federal Credit Union: $147,418.20 saved by 207 members

U.P. Catholic Credit Union: $204,846.71 saved by 104 members

“Save to Win is helping our members at Peninsula Federal Credit Union grow their wealth and save for their future, even as they stretch every dollar in difficult times,” said Kim Kareckas, director of marketing at Peninsula Federal Credit Union based in Escanaba. “Our members are genuinely excited that they have an incentive to save money, turn it into a regular habit and get a chance to win prizes.”

Designed to encourage members to save money by offering cash prizes to randomly drawn lucky winners, Save to Win also announced its $100,000 annual Grand Prize winner for 2011: A GM retiree who lives in the greater Lansing area and is a longtime member of Astera Credit Union.

With its one-of-a-kind prize-linked model, Save to Win has been hailed in the national news media for encouraging more families to save their money. Other states from Washington to Alabama to New England are trying to emulate Michigan’s program because of its popularity and effectiveness at getting people to save. This year, Nebraska credit unions began offering Save to Win to their members, and the Michigan Credit Union League is administering the program.

“Save to Win is a great example of local credit unions offering programs that put our members’ financial futures first, by helping members from all backgrounds grow their wealth,” said David Adams, CEO of the Michigan Credit Union League & Affiliates. “Every day, Michigan credit unions work hard to help families and small businesses on Main Street succeed in today’s economy. Save to Win is an example of how the credit union difference is helping people become financially healthy by providing incentives to save. As consumers save more and borrow more prudently, not only they, but the whole economy become better positioned for the future.”

Statewide, the savings rate continues the upward trend for the Save to Win program: In 2011, credit union members across Michigan saved nearly $34 million, with the average account more than $2,000 – both up from the $30 million saved in 2010, with the average account $1,871.

Each $25 deposit into a Save to Win certificate by a credit union member entitles them to one entry into the $100,000 Grand Prize drawing. The Save to Win program also awards smaller monthly prizes ranging from $125 to $1,000 to winners. In addition, most credit unions also individually award prizes to members who sign up for Save to Win, with prizes varying from credit union to credit union. All savings deposits generate interest and build savings.

Save to Win launched in 2009 as a collaboration between the Michigan Credit Union League, the Filene Research Institute and the Doorways to Dreams Fund (D2D). Designed to appeal to credit union members who have had difficulty saving money, Save to Win has helped many families save their money instead of spending it on games of chance. A 2009 survey found that 59 percent of participants had spent money on the lottery over the previous six months and that less than half saved money regularly before opening their Save to Win accounts.