Extra Money or Win Prizes by Entering Contests
One of my friends
retired a few years back and moved to a resort area. Her full
time job these days is entering the contests that the local
hotels and restaurants set up to market their establishments.
It is amazing how much stuff she has won. She got her driveway
paved and won a scuba diving trip to the Caribbean all for
free or for the nominal cost of raffle tickets. She does buy
raffle tickets sometimes, so her costs are not always zero,
but usually the raffles she enters are for charities. In that
case she feels that even if she doesn't win, the money is
going to a good cause. We usually visit our friend once a
year or so, and we get to eat out and see a lot of local attractions
either for free or at deep discounts just because of her prize
If you have a regular
job I certainly would not advocate leaving it to become a
professional contest person, but if you are not doing anything
else with your time entering free contests may be something
to consider. Or, if you like to spend your free time shopping,
entering contest instead may actually save you money by not
spending it shopping!
Here are some tips
for making the most of contests:
1. In my experience,
local church, school and charity raffles often have the best
odds of winning and the best prize values for the money.
I used to buy hundreds of dollars worth of tickets at my kids'
school raffles and usually received many nice prizes including
lots of free restaurant gift certificates, a wine rack, and
a MP3 player.
2. Local contests
are usually going to have less participants than national
contests. So all other things being equal, for a contest
with a nice trip as a prize, spend your stamp on the entry
form for the local contest rather the national one.
3. Even with
national contests, you'd be surprised sometimes at how little
competition there is. A friend of my mine works for a
national store chain that sponsored a contest that was free
to enter and had $10,000 worth of prizes. Interestingly, only
a thousand entries were received. From a marketing standpoint
the contest was a dismal failure, but for the people entering
the contest the odds were fantastic compared to others with
prizes of that value.
4. My friend
who enters contests for a living listens to a radio station
each day that has prizes for calling in at different times
and being the lucky caller. She has won prizes this way
several times, and didn't even have to pay for a stamp to
send in an entry.
5. The search
engine Iwon gives out prizes just for using their search engine.
6. To find contests
on the Internet, use a search engine and type in things like:
Here are a couple
of links to get you started:
Sweepstakes and Contests
Typing in 3, 4 and 5 word search terms will get you some
of the more obscure contests available online, and that
may mean less contestants. Use iwon for your search engine
you may even win something just by searching for contests!
7. You can also
Google alerts to find out when new contests and sweepstakes
web pages enter Google's index.
8. You are still
liable for taxes on prizes you win, so before you accept any
prizes make sure it is something that you can either use or
resell. You don't want to have to pay taxes on a trip
that you didn't get to take.
One thing to keep
in mind is that marketers often use drawings and raffles to
get your name for marketing information. So if you live in
the U.S. and do decide to enter a lot of contests, it may
help to limit the number of marketing solicitations you receive
by phone and email by:
1. Putting your
name on the Federal
Trade Commission's do not call list to avoid calls by
2. Signing up at
the Direct Mail Marketing web
site to have your name removed from their members' lists.
that when entering contests, only give out limited personal
information for entries such as your name and address.
You don't want to give out any information that could
be used by unscrupulous marketers for identity theft.