Representatives Sam Bloedow, left, and Alyssa Benike
look over paperwork behind the service desk Monday
morning at Glacier Hills Credit Union in West Bend.
John Ehlke/Daily News
WEST BEND — After observing a disturbing trend with
respect to household savings in the country,
representatives from credit unions have collaborated on
an initiative to entice people to save more.
Christine Henzig, the director of communications for the
Wisconsin Credit Union League, issued a news release
Aug. 31 announcing that representatives from credit
unions in Wisconsin and Minnesota have established the
Saver’s Sweepstakes, a program that automatically enters
participants into a drawing for cash prizes whenever
they deposit money into a savings account.
“First, we had to advocate for, and see legislation
passed so that the program could operate here,” Henzig
Officials modeled Sweepstakes from other prize-linked
savings programs developed elsewhere in the country.
“Prize-linked savings accounts are savings programs
designed to promote thrift,” said Kelly McDonough, the
chief executive officer of Glacier Hills Credit Union.
“They are meant to appeal to people who don’t otherwise
individuals in the country face an issue when it comes
to addressing unexpected expenses — and the statistics
confirm the problem. McDonough said 60 percent of
Americans do not have enough money set aside to pay for
an emergency that will cost them $500. About 25 percent
of Americans have no savings at all.
“Think about how many people play the lottery every
week,” McDonough said. “Hundreds of people go out and
buy lottery tickets every week, but don’t put $25 in a
savings account. This is designed to appeal to those
people, who blow $25 on the lottery, but don’t have a
goal is to divert money that people would have spent
playing the lottery, or any other type of spending, and
deposit that money into a fund they can use when
unexpected expenses arise.
Supporters of the program believe Sweepstakes provides a
more substantial rate of return for participants’ money.
The probability of winning the Badger 5 lottery is about
1 in 170,000, which is effectively, in terms of
percentage, zero, according to the SmartLuck Inc.
participate in Sweepstakes, individuals must be members
of one of the 14 participating credit unions, and enroll
in the program by opening a specialized account. Program
participants become eligible for a reward by depositing
at least $25 in the account each month. For every $25
they deposit, they will automatically be provided one
entry into a drawing for a cash prize the following
Representatives have limited participants to six entries
within a given month, so $150 is the maximum amount that
an individual can deposit into the account while
continuing into the program. All deposits within that
month are eligible for the drawing in the following
There will be 45 winners selected randomly who will be
awarded $100 during each entry period. Aside from the
possible monthly award, there will be four participants
who will win $1,000 every quarter and a $5,000 annual
prize. The entries for a specific individual will
continue for the quarterly and annual payouts with each
$25 deposit during that time, up to the maximum six
entries each month.
There are restrictions associated with the account.
Depositors must pay a $10 fee for each of the first two
withdrawals, and officials will close the account once
members decide to take a third withdrawal.
“This isn’t intended to be an account for people to put
the money in and take it out like a regular savings
account,” McDonough said. “This is intended to have
people put money into the account and leave it in to
promote that savings.”
the anniversary of opening the account, people are
permitted to remove funds without penalty.
“That is part of the state regulation to promote these
accounts as a thrift savings account is to have this
withdrawal regulation on them,” said Travis Livingood,
marketing director at Glacier Hills.