Making lottery winnings count
League partners with Connecticut Lottery to assist with financial windfalls.
Lottery winners traditionally take their money and do with it what they will. The Credit Union League of Connecticut hopes future winners, most of whom don’t receive endless wealth, take a moment to stop and consider their options.
A partnership between the league and the Connecticut Lottery intervenes at the moment winners receive their reward. When someone wins at least $600 in the state’s lottery, the envelope with the check also includes an insert for wisewinnings.com.
The site provides lottery winners with financial resources and education via Credit Unions Building Financial Independence, the league’s charitable, nonprofit arm. On the site, winners can find and meet with trained credit union financial counselors to create an individualized plan for their money.
“If we can interrupt the spending impulse, the winner has a fresh opportunity to take a minute to think about the choices they have,” says Bruce Adams, president/CEO at the Credit Union League of Connecticut. “Lotteries across the nation have done a lot of work on responsible gambling, trying to help people make the right choices when they're buying their tickets. But this is a first-of-its-kind partnership where we're focusing on responsible winning. We have a strong relationship with the lottery, and we applaud them for taking a material step toward helping responsible winning.”
The website opens with a note of congratulations and suggests winners take the following steps:
- Stop and think.
- Make a plan.
- Treat yourself (within reason).
- Seek professional financial advice.
That goes for winners of massive lotteries, as well as the smaller winners who can still improve their financial well-being.
“Even a dollar amount that seems small can be life-changing,” Adams says. “$2,500 can mean you repair your car, you're getting to work every day, and you're not losing your job.
“For a person who has $10,000 of credit card debt, if they can eliminate that with a win, they now have an increased cash flow,” he continues. “If they can eliminate one source of financial stress, they have the ability to make more choices with their money.”
The partnership allows the league to foster financial well-being for all, attract new members, and tell the credit union story in an impactful way.
“We not only help an underserved and overlooked population, we make a splash with policymakers who can say to their constituents and governor, ‘Hey, look at those credit unions. They're really putting their money where their mouth is,’ ” Adams says. “This is a good way to remind people that a credit union is a good place for their money.”
The league is looking at potential future iterations of the partnership, including sending electronic fund transfers to winners and training lottery employees to provide financial education.
“We want at least one FiCEP-trained counselor at every credit union in Connecticut,” says Adams, referring to the CUNA Financial Counseling Certification Program. “The lottery winner can expect that person will give advice that is in their best interests and not designed to upsell them into credit union products. I envision a time where people at the lottery claim center can do FiCEP training, or a hybrid of it, to speak fluidly with the claim winner about the right things to do.”