Krista Storey has quite a story to tell.
While other Hoosiers were eating cocktail weenies and Doritos during the Super Bowl, Storey was competing in The Ally Big Save, an interactive mobile game aimed at making savings dreams a reality. The reality-driven game by online-only Ally Bank challenges consumers to think critically about their savings goals through the visualization of a virtual dollar drop, according to a news release.
The three-month Batesville resident, who moved here from Sunman, found out about the contest “because I was trying to save money for life insurance. I was trying to find the best interest rate possible.” Just like her grandmother, Storey looked into a certificate of deposit, but the interest rates are not appealing now.
Then she thought about opening a savings account and Ally had the best interest rate.
That’s where she saw the company’s Super Bowl ad. “You had to download the app and be ready for the first commercial break.”
At parents Jim and Lee Lesneski’s Super Bowl party in Sunman, contest instructions flashed on Storey’s cellphone screen. “Wave your phone around the room and grab the money and put it in the piggy bank” on the screen.
Virtual money was falling onto the phone’s screen in different denominations. If Storey got so many in a row while playing during commercial breaks in the game, she could double and triple her totals. “The game part of it was only 20 percent of your score. A 1,000-word essay – “why you save money” – was the other 80 percent.
After Ally officials read “tens of thousands of submissions,” Storey told her tale to a panel of advertising employees on a conference call.
During a second call, bank employees made a video of her essay, then informed the single woman she had won $10,000. She yelled, “‘I’m so excited! I can’t believe it!’ My daughter was jumping up and down in the background” of the video.
Depending on their savings goals, 14 winners across the U.S. won between $5,000 and $40,000. Storey was the only Indiana winner, reported Andrea Brimmer, Ally Financial chief marketing and public relations officer.
Each winner had a different goal, says Storey, who watched some of the videos. One man gained $15,000, which will help send his child to college. A woman wanted to buy a car for her dad. “You didn’t have to feel guilty you won the money. You didn’t have to better the community. It was OK to be a little bit selfish.”
She is philosophical about her prize. “The whole point is to save the money. For me, it was just peace of mind. I could just put that money into an account in case something happened to me. I don’t have life insurance anymore.”
“My inspiration for saving money was my grandmother,” Margaret Lesneski, who married a coal miner in tiny Nanty Glo, Pennslyvania. Storey reports, “They didn’t have any money. His parents died really young. She had to take care of all of his siblings.” Joseph, wanting a better income, joined the Army during World War II. “Of course he was shipped off to war.” Gen. George Patton thanked him for his service in a letter after Lesneski fought in the Battle of the Bulge.
Joseph Lesneski sent his wife a weekly allowance. “She was concerned if something happened to him, she would not have any money to live off of” with no job or driver’s license. There was a starch, meat, salad and dessert at every meal and the house was immaculate. “She never skimped on anything, but all the kitchen towels were ratty,” Storey was told. The motto of her grandmother, a child of the Depression, was “use what she had and make it better.”
“She would save up enough money to buy a CD” or war bond. After the war, “she would send my dad to the bank every week with an envelope. That was the leftover of whatever her allowance was.”
As the couple and their four children moved all over the world with the Army, “they never took out loans … they would just pay cash” for everything from cars to homes. Margaret Lesneski had saved enough to pay for assisted living for both of them and then an Alzheimer’s unit for two years for herself before dying in Nevada.
“She never told anybody how much money she had saved up, but … my mom says it was over $600,000.”
Storey explains, “My grandmother has four great-grandchildren on my dad’s side … I think it would be exciting to have a memory of her (and that saving tradition) by starting each off with a good savings account” so the youngest generation can “watch it grow like she did.”
So she will share the $10,000 with the Batesville kids: her daughter Sara Storey, 13; niece Lilly Lesneski, 11; and two nephews, Robert Lesneski, 10; and Charlie Lesneski, 6, the children of James and Amy Lesneski.
Storey is planning ahead about what she wants to do with the money reserved for herself. “I want to be cremated,” she announces. “When I die,” the southern California native would like her family to enjoy a celebration of her life on a beach.
In her Ally essay, the 40-year-old wrote, “It is harder than ever to save money, but I am thankful for what my daughter and I have already been able to stash away for emergencies. It is a huge relief knowing that if something would happen to me, that she would have enough in our Ally account to pay for funeral expenses.”
Storey worked her way up at a pet retail company for 17 years until she became a store manager in West Chester, Ohio, commuting there from Sunman. “It was my life. I was commuting an hour and 15 minutes each way in good weather. In the wintertime, I was gone five hours in traffic … ice storms … it was so scary.”
And the woman was frustrated. “I wasn’t raising my daughter. It was about me being with her” so Storey quit her pet career in May 2014.
Meanwhile, the single woman whose favorite pastimes are home improvements and scrapbooking had been dating Cecil Ison, owner of Ison’s Family Pizza. When the restaurant’s frozen yogurt machines were installed, “I got myself a job” and is now store manager.
Ison says, “I wouldn’t be where I’m at today without her. She is beyond amazing, both professionally and personally.” Storey sums up, “We make a good team.”
She is getting used to living in a small town. “Just bumping into my brother at the grocery store is awkward. I banked and shopped online, but Cecil makes me carry cash and pay my bills in person.” He told her, “‘You have a face, you have a name, you need to go out in the community and be part of it.'”
“It’s just a whole different way of living. No credit cards. I live 100 percent debt free.”
Debbie Blank can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 812-934-4343, Ext. 113.
What are you saving for?
Savings goals can be very difficult for many to realize. According to a 2017 GOBankingRates survey, 57 percent of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings accounts.
The Ally Financial website https://go.ally.com/big-save/ details the most popular goals its respondents are saving for: a home, 9,362 people; emergency fund, 8,909; loved ones, 3,048; car, 3,042; education, 2,434; giving back, 460.