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Want to win $100,000? Save $25

Here's an idea worth spreading: Eight Michigan credit unions are boosting savings rates by giving depositors a lottery ticket that could win them up to $100,000.

The program, called Save to Win, was the brain child of the Doorway 2 Dreams Fund, a non-profit launched by Harvard professor Peter Tufano. D2D aims to improve the economic well-being of low- and middle-income consumers through "innovative means," said Christina Kasica. director of communications and advocacy. The idea here was to parlay the instant gratification of gambling with the long-term benefit of savings.
Here's how it works:

  • Each $25 you deposit in a participating credit union gets you one chance to win a $100,000 jackpot that's paid out once annually.
  • If you deposit $50, you get two chances to win, but you can't get more than 10 chances per month per member, nor more than 120 chances total chances for the annual drawing.
  • Your deposits also qualify you for monthly prizes ranging from $15 to $400.
  • You have to be age 18 or older to play.
The prize money comes from foregone interest on the deposits, Kasica explains. Instead of paying, say, 2%, on your money, the participating credit unions pay 1.5%. That difference, which adds to roughly 12 cents annually on your $25 deposit, is thrown into a prize pot that will enrich the lucky winners.

That seems like a small price to pay for the entertainment value of being part of a bunch of prize drawings. And it certainly hasn't discouraged depositors, who have boosted their savings in the participating credit unions by some $3.1 million over the past six months.

The only problem with the program is that you can only participate if you live in the state of Michigan. The organizers would like to expand outside the Michigan area, but it takes finding credit unions to participate and evaluating (or changing) state laws to ensure the lottery doesn't violate banking rules.

Want to play? Speak up! Tell me where you live and we'll shoot the responses to the organizers, credit union officials and state legislators. It wouldn't hurt to mention how you think it might help your savings rate or your local economy either.