One Family Gets A Financial Makeover

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Just in time for the holidays, a member of USE Credit Union has received a $25,000 grand prize in a contest the CU used to showcase its financial education campaign.

Carmen Guardado, who lives with her husband and five children ages four to 11 in nearby Chula Vista, was selected as the grand prize winner out of 2,400 entries. The "Xtreme Financial Makeover" contest was open to USE CU members and the general public. The credit union collected entries at its 10 branches from July 1 to Sept. 15.

Reached at home one day after winning, Guardado said she still was in a daze from all the attention. "It's been crazy. I have 10 messages on my machine from reporters," she said.

Guardado does not recall when she entered the drawing. She opened an account at the credit union in May. Asked what she and her family will do with the money, Guardado said the first step will be to sit down with a tax advisor.

"After that, we'll pay off some bills, take the kids to Disneyland, maybe do some home improvement projects we've been lagging on. A little bit of everything."

USE CU also awarded six $2,500 first place prizes to: Deljeet O'Ree and Simone Gay of La Mesa, Calif., Julie Monteleone of La Jolla, Calif., Lisa Russell of Davis, Calif., Leona Thomas of Pittsburg, Calif., and Daniel Brown of San Jose, Calif.

The credit union's campaign also included a personalized financial review. USE told members it would improve their financial picture by $2,500 or more in 25 minutes, or the member would receive $25. The financial "makeover" included a free financial workbook that compared CU services to banks, credit card companies and other financial institutions.

Linda Baughman, USE's president and CEO, said: "We couldn't be happier to do something so wonderful for such a deserving family." In a prepared statement, she added, "With all the reality programs on TV, the most important reality was still overlooked - how to help people improve their financial picture. We created our Xtreme Financial Makeover to do just that: to help real people face their real financial challenges and learn how to make real improvements. Our goal is to teach consumers, through information and financial tools, that it isn't how much money you make, but how well you manage the money have that matters."

The $700-million USE pronounced the campaign a success, and said it recently launched Xtreme Financial Makeover II. The CU will award another $25,000 grand prize on or about Dec. 19, 2005. The community-chartered credit union serves 80,000 members in five California counties: Alameda, San Diego, Sacramento, San Jose and Yolo.

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