ST. PAUL, Minn. (Jan. 26, 2017) – Affinity Plus member Laura Helmbrecht came into the credit union’s University Avenue branch last week, presumably to tell her savings story.
But Affinity Plus and the Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) had other secret plans. Because of Helmbrecht’s enthusiasm for and commitment to savings, the Minneapolis resident left with an additional $5,000.
Officials named Helmbrecht the 2016 grand-prize winner for WINcentive Savings, randomly picked from more than 4,000 credit union members statewide who take part in the unique prize-linked savings-account program.
Helmbrecht’s win completes WINcentive Savings’ first full year of monthly, quarterly and an annual drawing that reward participants who commit to saving at least $25 (and up to $100) monthly. Each time members save in their accounts, they earn opportunities to win $100, $500, $1,000 or $5,000.
Because of the program’s first-year success and popularity, five more Minnesota credit unions will offer WINcentive Savings in 2017, bringing the total to 19.
‘WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU WERE THE $5,000 WINNER?’
Helmbrecht came to Affinity Plus’ University branch in Minneapolis after Branch Manager Amber Shanley invited her to answer a few questions about WINcentive Savings. To complete the ruse, MnCUN and Affinity Plus officials were on hand with a backdrop of signs, balloons and cake.
Helmbrecht, an Affinity Plus member for about 15 years, said she signed up for WINcentive Savings in February 2016, just a month after the program launched statewide.
“I signed up for auto enrollments. Every month on the fifteenth, $100 goes into the WINcentive account. I don’t even think about it. It just happens.”
Shanley asked about Helmbrecht’s savings goals. “I always have a lot of great plans for my savings,” she said. “I always have big house projects, and traveling is another one.”
Asked what would she would do with the grand prize, Helmbrecht admitted she didn’t know there was one, but was impressed with the $5,000 amount.
“I’d probably save it, most of it, and I have this big goal to pay off my house. So maybe put a little bit of it toward something boring like a house payment,” she said.
MnCUN officials and Shanley then handed Helmbrecht the ceremonial, oversized check. “Well, your boring dreams might come true,” Shanley said. “You did win the $5,000.”
WINCENTIVE SAVINGS BACKGROUND
Brian Volkmann, Affinity Plus executive vice president/chief financial officer, said WINcentive Savings “jumped out of the gates” in January 2016 after Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed into law legislation authorizing the prize-linked accounts.
Affinity Plus opened 60 WINcentive Savings accounts on day one, 400 within one month and more than 1,000 in three months, Volkmann said.
As of Dec. 31, 2016, more than 4,000 Minnesota credit-union members participated in WINcentive Savings. Nearly half are Affinity Plus members, credit union officials said.
Overall in 2016, Affinity Plus members saved $1.27 million into WINcentive Savings accounts, with average balances of about $632.
Statewide in 2016, WINcentive Savings prize winners were awarded more than $86,000 for their dedication to saving. Affinity Plus had a separate prize pool just for Affinity Plus members, and awarded its own members nearly $26,000.
WINCENTIVE SAVINGS EXPANDS TO 19 IN 2017
Dave Larson, Affinity Plus President/CEO, said WINcentive Savings’ growth in 2017 affirms the vision planners had when they advocated for legislation to create the program.
“Prize-linked savings accounts are gaining acceptance and traction,” Larson said. “And as we grow, we want to keep sharing the stories of members who are thrilled with how they’re building positive savings habits.”
MnCUN has complete information about WINcentive Savings here. Affinity Plus has information here.
NEWS PHOTO – Laura Helmbrecht, right, of Minneapolis, smiles as she receives the ceremonial $5,000 check from Amber Shanley, Affinity Plus University Branch manager Jan. 18 in Minneapolis. Helmbrecht, a 15-year Affinity Plus member, was chosen as Grand Prize winner for WINcentive Savings. She opened the prize-linked savings account in February 2016 and added $100 monthly to qualify for periodic prize drawings. Participants may add as little as $25 monthly to qualify for drawings. Affinity Plus was one of 14 Minnesota credit unions that offered WINcentive Savings in its first year. An additional five will offer it in 2017, bringing the total to 19.