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Wash. 'Save to Win' awards $15K for 1st anniversary
PORTLAND, Ore. (4/25/14)--Three Washington credit union members were rewarded Tuesday with celebrations in their honor and checks for $5,000 each--the biggest prizes yet in "Save to Win," the state's year-old, prize-linked savings program, the Northwest Credit Union Association reported.
 
Karen Salado, a member of TwinStar CU, Lacey, was one of three $5,000 winners in Washington's "Save to Win program. (Northwest Credit Union Association photo)
Karen Salado and Anne Mickatavage members $882 million-asset TwinStar CU, Lacey, and Gertrude "Pat" Nelson, a member of $174 million-asset North Coast CU, Bellingham, were randomly selected in a computerized drawing ( Anthem April 24).
 
For Salado, who has been a regular saver since she was 15, the news was especially surprising: She'd opened a "Save to Win" account only weeks before the drawing. "When I was first married, right off the bat we would put $25 a week in savings and even now I always pay myself first," Salado said.
 
Under the "Save to Win" concept, credit unions create a kind of lottery in which players can win cash prizes just by saving money--and make it impossible for them to lose a dime, the NWCUA reported. All of the money members deposit in the 12-month certificate program stays in their accounts, because the prize pool is funded by other credit union resources. Strategic Link, the NWCUA's wholly owned subsidiary, funds the prize pool.
 
As members build their assets, they're also eligible to win--each $25 deposit earns an entry into monthly and annual drawings, and members can earn up to 10 chances to win every month.
 
Nelson has been a member of North Coast CU for 27 years. She started her "Save to Win" account to save money to remodel her kitchen, and her winnings are going right back into her account to continue her savings toward that goal. "I'm putting this money back into the account until I have enough to do everything I want," she said. "New countertops, new paint, new floors. My new kitchen is getting closer and closer."
 
Mickatavage has not yet decided what to do with her winnings--but she screamed when she learned she had won. An engineer, she said "Save to Win" helped her become a regular saver. "I know it's important," she said.
 
Earlier this month, Washington credit unions celebrated the one-year anniversary of their right to offer prize-linked saving accounts. Through February, 834 members had opened "Save to Win" accounts at Washington credit unions, with total deposits of nearly $785,000. The average amount saved per account is about $940.
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