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Moving Toward a Secure Retirement AARP’s retirement sweepstakes changes one member’s life

Last month, AARP's financial security education and outreach team had the privilege of literally changing someone's life. All it took was a simple  45-question trivia contest and a jumbo-sized $50,000 check.

I'd like to introduce you to our most recent $50,000  sweepstakes winner, Karen Bratkovic, a 67-year-old widow who lives outside Chicago with her two dogs.

llinois State President of AARP Merri Dee and AARP Illinois Associate State Director Carmenza Millan present Karen Bratkovic with a $50,000 check for AARP's retirement sweepstakes. — Harvey Tillis

First, a little background. Our team sponsors retirement sweepstakes contests once or twice a year, with a twofold purpose: to highlight the  resources AARP offers to help you make key  financial decisions and to provide each grand-prize winner with enough cash to make a big move toward a more secure retirement. Every retirement trivia question you attempt earns you an additional entry into the sweepstakes drawing. (The  next sweepstakes starts Nov. 15!)

Karen called the sweepstakes "a blessing from the sky." She and her husband, who died of leukemia last September, had saved throughout their lives and minimized their expenses. They were even fortunate enough to have a pension from both their employers.

But when her husband died — almost a year to the day before she won the sweepstakes — his pension checks ended. Her smaller pension and  Social Security survivor benefits barely cover the mortgage on a house that's way too big for her, and way too far from her family in Tucson. She's been drawing down their modest investments to meet the rest of her monthly needs, which her financial planner has counseled against. "I think the best advice he gave us was, 'Keep your monthly expenses as low as possible.' "

Karen knew she needed to downsize, but — until now — she didn't have the money to get the house in shape to put it on the market. "So I'll be able to fix up the house and make my last move to Arizona. That is what this lets me do," she said. "That's how much this means to me. I just can't believe it — I feel like I won the $6 million lottery."

Maybe the next AARP prize can be yours! Visit our Contests and Sweepstakes site to see all of our current promotions.

Story by by:  Jean C. Setzfand

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