RACINE, Wis. (8/5/09)--Six families who embarked in September on a Savings Challenge created by Educators CU in Racine Wis., have increased their savings by more than $21,000 and reduced their collective debt by more than $49,000. The families also increased their collective credit scores by 533 points, said the $1 billion asset credit union (The League Aug. 4). With help from a financial coach, all the families set a goal to increase their savings by 10% and reduce their debt by 3%. Each family developed a spending plan and attended monthly financial education workshops conducted by the credit union. The family that achieved its goals would be awarded a grand prize of $10,000. However, when four families reached their goals, Educators’ board of directors decided to award each family $10,000. “It was wonderful to see what families did and how much they achieved,” said Educators spokeswoman Shannon Huot. “We just wanted to reward all four families for their hard work.” The other two families each were awarded $2,500. To involve its membership and community in the challenge, the credit union shared monthly interviews with each family through videos, podcasts, blog posts and webinars posted on the credit union’s website and also provided an at-home version of the challenge. The at-home version asked participants to fulfill requirements similar to the main challenge. They included creating a spending plan, setting a financial goal, opening and maintaining a VIP savings account and attending three of the credit union’s financial education workshops. At the end of the challenge, at-home participants had a chance to win $1,000, $750, $500 or $250. Although the first challenge has ended, the credit union intends to help more members during its second Savings Challenge, which is slated to begin this fall.