Personal Finance, Saving Money

Save to Win: How A Lottery Bank Account Taught Me to Save Money

By Dean L.

When you read those statistics about Americans not saving money and going into credit card debt, you could place me as the poster child of the movement. Not only do I have a huge amount of credit card debt, I had less than $5 in my bank account a couple of months ago. This had been a typical savings amount for me for as long as I can remember.

I have read about saving money and have known for long time that it’s something that intellectually I know I should be doing, but there had never been the incentive for me to do so. The paltry interest rates that banks pay made me feel like it was a waste of time to put aside money so I took my chances each month and played the lottery instead. It was always $2 here, $5 there, but it added up to close to $100 over the entire month.

That all changed two months ago when I walked into my local credit union and learned about a new savings promotion they were offering called “Save to Win” where if I placed $25 or more into a 1 year CD, I had a chance to win up to $400 on a monthly basis plus a chance at $100,000 at the end of the year. Although the payout isn’t as high as the lottery, it gives me a chance to win something which makes the low interest rates more palatable.

Since that time I have put aside the money that I would have put toward the lottery and instead have placed it into CDs. I’ve opened 5 CDs over the last 2 months which has my savings at more than $125 — an amount that I haven’t had saved in years. I plan to continue to place the money I would have spent on the lottery into CDs for the rest of the year and should have close to $1000 in savings by then. And if I’m lucky, I may win some cash prizes along the way or $100,000 at the end of the year.

Editor’s Note: The Save to Win program is currently offered by eight credit unions in Michigan and is only available to residents of Michigan

Do you have a personal story about saving money? We’d love to hear about it.

14 thoughts on “Save to Win: How A Lottery Bank Account Taught Me to Save Money

  1. There are a lot of problems with this saving strategy. The money that you are saving is locked into 1 year CDs so you can’t access it in case of an emergency. You also mention that you have credit card debt and putting the money toward that would be wiser than placing it in a CD that earns a lot less interest than you are paying to the credit card companies.

    That being said, having the money in the CD is better than not having the money at all because it was spent on lottery tickets.

  2. To me, lottery is a waste of money. Expeccially if you have debt with high interest rate. I would just save enough for small emergency fund, and with any other money I would have, I would get rid of those debts as soon as possible. The only problem with those CDs is that you can’t access your money right away.

  3. For your credit union, it’s a good marketing plan to encourage people to place money in their care. I have to agree, the low interest rates on savings vehicles is not much of an incentive to save. Thank goodness for banks there are so many other reasons peole should be saving more money. 😉

    However your incentive to change came about, good luck with your savings plans and good luck paying down your credit card debt.

  4. You know what? Good for you! Whatever gets you to save. I think its more important to develop the habit and get you to save than it is to learn how to rate chase. Just one thing – make sure you are chipping away at the credit card debt. Too bad there’s no lottery-esque incentive to pay off the credit card.

  5. A lottery savings account, very interesting. I guess everytime I think i’m going to spend $3,500 on a watch, or $40,000 on a car, I should just lock that up in a CD as well.

    Not a bad idea, but unless you’re spending hundreds of dollars on lottery tickets, I don’t think you’re going to save much no?



  6. By the way, from the looks of this, it looks like you may have a gambling problem?



  7. Hey, Dean, forget these negative comments. You are awesome! You have increased your savings 2500% in only two months!

    This is like lottery tickets that give you back your money, plus extra, at the end of the CD. And you can take most of it out early if you have an emergency. But this is money you’re not used to having, so you probably won’t take it out early.

    This is also a fabulous starting out point. When the incentives stop, you may switch to regular savings or an online savings account or something. And you may think of something awesome you can do with this money after a few years to entice you to save more.

    This is sort of how I started saving for retirement. I started with an amount small enough that if the stock market dropped to zero and I lost everything, I wouldn’t miss that money. Then I worked my way up from there, learning as I went.

    Meanwhile, your financial situation is improving monthly without hurting you much at all. (Your winning fantasies are a little less exciting!) And your money is perfectly safe.

    And what if this isn’t a starting point, but you just do this so long as the promotion lasts and then go back to buying lottery tickets and poster-child living? You’ll still have an extra pile of money you wouldn’t have had without doing this.


  8. Congratulations. I hope you win.

    My Dad was very old fashioned and he never believed in investing in the market. But he did like collecting CDs. And he did understand the concept of compounding.

    His favorite words: Save. It adds up very quickly.

  9. Good for you! Getting started is the hardest part of doing anything difficult, and there will ALWAYS be quick to offer their negative opinions….don’t let them discourage you.

  10. Look further into what your credit union offers in the way of lottery-like programs. Mine has one in which you can get entered to win ($10K? $40K?) simply by paying your bills out of your checking account there. Plus, the checking account pays more interest than any of their CDs. I’m sure the program is not unique to just my CU.

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  12. Good for you Dean!

    Keep adding to your accounts and you will find that saving money will become addictive. You will love seeing your numbers grow and a sense of comfort and pride will come over you and encourage you to save more.

    As soon as you feel comfortable set aside that 3-6 months of emergency money for when disaster shows up.

    Keep up the good work.
    You have to start somewhere.

  13. Who cares why or how you are saving, you are NOW! Instead of throwing away or burning up the money you are saving it and that is the start of a good habit. Just keep it up.

  14. Now, if we could only get the Credit Unions down south in Texas to take up this program! I think it would get my hubby into the mood for saving! Come on, Texas Credit Unions…check into this program! 🙂

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