The Mega Millions jackpot now sits at an estimated $502 million heading into Friday night’s drawing.
That’s no doubt going to entice a lot of people who don’t normally play the lottery to do so.
If you want to drop $2 on a ticket, money expert Clark Howard says to be his guest. It can’t hurt to dream, right?
But if you’re considering venturing anything more than a couple bucks on a game in which you have a 1 in 302,575,350 chance of hitting the jackpot, listen up.
We’d like to suggest another option that can help you build long-term savings and get you a shot at a jackpot — albeit a much smaller one.
Introducing the Save To Win program
We all know on an intellectual level that we should save money for the future. Financial gurus like Clark Howard could spend all day going blue in the face telling you, “If you have save this much money, it will grow to this much in 15 years. And then it will grow to this much in 30 years…”
But human nature dictates that you’re not thinking about 15 or 30 years down the road; our need for immediate gratification means you’re probably thinking about 15 or 30 minutes in the future!
That’s why some credit unions around the country have hit on an idea that lets you get a kind of immediate gratification and meet goals down the road at the same time.
It’s called the Save To Win program.
Credit unions in a dozen states — Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington — participate in this unique savings plan/lottery.
This program allows you to open a savings account — called a 12-month Save to Win share certificate — for $25, which essentially buys you one “lottery ticket” for an upcoming drawing.
Prizes ranging from $25 to $5,000 are awarded monthly and quarterly among participating credit unions.
Individual credit unions may offer additional member prizes, too. (See a complete list of prizes.)
Every $25 you deposit with your participating credit union is another entry to win. You can have up to 10 entries per month by depositing $25 each time.
So if you live in a participating state and are considering dropping $20 on the Mega Millions jackpot this week, you might scale down your expectations of big winnings and consider this modest lottery instead. You’ll certainly have a better chance of winning!
But no matter whether you win or lose, you get to keep all the money you’ve deposited in your credit union account, plus interest.
You’ll want to hurry though — the next $5,000 quarterly drawing is set for April 14, 2018!
If your state or credit union isn’t participating with the Save to Win program at this time, you can change that. Just fill out this form to get in touch with the Save to Win folks and start the process.
When Save To Win began in 2010, more than 16,000 Michigan residents who had not been savers opened new accounts because of the jackpot lure. They saved $28 million collectively in a single year that otherwise might not have been saved.
You’ve probably heard Clark encouraging people to adopt saving money as a lifestyle choice. But not everyone can easily heed the message. As you move down the income ladder, people either can’t or won’t save any money.
The consumer champ has often talked about how there’s this convenience store gas station down near his house that every Friday night is swarmed with people buying lottery tickets. He’s lamented seeing people drop $20 at a time — and we’re talking about people who absolutely need that money to pay bills and for their families.
“I like Save To Win because it’s a way of tricking people into saving money, if you will,” Clark says. “It’s been said that lotteries are the greatest ‘tax’ on the poor in the Western world. So the beauty of this idea is that it uses that ‘tax’ as a way to create savings.”