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Guest Post: Why I Enter Sweepstakes

Guest Post by Cathy of Chief Family Officer

I've never been one of those people who always win something. Buy me a raffle ticket and I guarantee you've wasted your money.

But I've discovered that one of the wonderful things about the internet is that it really is the great equalizer and provider of opportunities. There are so many contests and sweepstakes out there that even I win sometimes.

I hold out no hope that I will ever win the $100,000 grand prize or trip to Disneyworld. But I do expect to win when the odds are pretty good.

For example, prior to the Super Bowl, Kraft had a sweepstakes where the prize was $15 worth of coupons. That's the perfect prize for someone like me, who loves to use coupons. It was a daily entry sweepstakes, so I entered every day after I found out about it. And not only did I win, I won twice and received 6 coupons for free Kraft products. That's $30 of products that I'll be using to get my total purchase past the $75 mark so that I can use a $5 off $75 purchase at Ralphs (our Kroger affiliate).

There were 43,000 prizes in the Kraft sweepstakes. That makes sense, since the value of each prize is relatively small. But $30 worth of free product coupons was worth the minute it took to enter the contest every day for a couple of weeks.

Another example is the Winter Match game from Pampers Gifts to Grow. It's a game that you can play three times per day, and if you scroll down to the bottom of the page, you can enter without using any Gifts to Grow points. There are 3,700 prizes. I'd obviously love to win the year of diapers, but I probably won't–and that's okay. I've already won two Shutterfly prize packages, giving me a total of 58 free prints with free shipping. In a few months, I'll order the free prints and give them to the grandparents and great-grandparents for Mother's and Father's Day.

The matching game takes a little more time than the Kraft sweepstakes did, but I play it in the morning in between checking my email and Google Reader. In fact, I've made entering sweepstakes a part of my daily morning routine. It takes less than five minutes to enter four or five in quick succession.

A few words of caution: It's always a good idea to read the fine print, and have an email account that's dedicated to sweepstakes and contest entries. You can usually opt out of additional emails from the sponsors, but you'll inevitably get some messages. And you might forget to opt out once in a while. Having a dedicated email account will keep your inbox from being flooded. (It's easy to get a free Gmail account.)

I don't win all of the time, but I win often enough to make the effort more than worthwhile. My favorite resource for finding out about sweepstakes is Freebies for Mom. Heather regularly posts about winnable sweepstakes. I don't enter every one, because my time is precious, but I do enter the ones with lots of prizes that I could definitely use. And so should you!

Cathy of Chief Family Officer writes daily about family finances, parenting, cooking, and more.

Note from Crystal: Do you find Sweepstakes worth your time? Why or why not? I'd love to hear!

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25 Comments

  • Todd says:

    I got my free bagel in Colorado Springs. I found a reusable coupon for every Friday in a postal mailer the other day. On the reverse side there is another reusable coupon for free coffee every Monday. Check your mail or call the bagel shop.

  • Jessica says:

    I’ve never won anything, despite having entered a large number of contests and sweepstakes. This fact has made me shy away from entering for much of anything since my daughter was born almost 3 years ago. I guess I’d rather spend that time being with her instead of a pipe dream on a contest.

  • Chiara says:

    Sometimes! I forgot to keep playing the Kraft game so I only won once… but they’re really good coupons! I think I got one for cheese and one for free nabisco products (I got Ritz crackers for our camping trip!) and other coupons I can’t remember 🙂 I agree with Cathy that if the chances of winning are quite big, then it’s worth trying in a sweepstakes 🙂

  • Dee mama of 4 says:

    My 16 year old daughter found this site and now I use it pretty faithfully. And since she is the one who wins sweepstakes, I decided to comment on her behalf. She has won (actually I usually win because you need to be over 18, so she has my permission to use my email, bday, etc.) several prizes just in the past year. The biggest was $1K from the Sara Lee spin to win contest last fall. She was hoping for the free loaf of break or $50 gift cerficate for new running shoes. She won the grand prize. AND, she got to donate $1K to a local school. Since we home school, she chose the local elementary school where we lead 4-H programs. The school honored her with an assembly plaque, etc.

    She has also won numerous gifts including apron, hat, t shirt, and free product coupons. It is fun. Things we cannot use we donate to local pregnancy center or food pantry. And you must keep in mind that we got high speed internet just a few months ago, so she was playing on dial-up.

  • Adam says:

    I used to, but got tired of it. the chances of winning are so small with tens of thousands of entries. even with roboform, its still a pain in the rear to fill out all the surveys

  • Dawn says:

    Contests are absolutely worth my time. I prefer the online instant win games. It takes me about 30 minutes per day to enter the current ones. I go through dry spells, but then I have lucky streaks as well. My dh was thrilled with the Xbox 360 I won. I have a $600 area rug, which I would never have purchased, from a contest win. I love my Nintendo DS Lite, which was a prize from the Red Baron contest, and am awaiting the delivery of my Wii and Wii Fit from WebMD’s game. The video game systems are things we really wanted but simply did have room in the budget to buy. Of course there have been smaller prices -$50 gift cards, Netflix subscription, movie tickets, a bracelet, coupons, and I see “sorry” much more than I would like. I get many comments that those games are all a scam and that no one just gives you a prize like that. Every prize I have won I have also received. Enter away – you never know when you will see “Congratulations!”

  • Jennifer says:

    I love sweepstakes! Unlike you, I do hold out hope that I will win cash or a car! I used to enter over 100 a day, but I’ve gotten it down to around 60 a day, and I only enter for prizes that I really want (like cash and cars). I haven’t won a big prize yet, but I’ve won plenty of small ones, like giftcards to iTunes, JCPenneys, Chevron, tickets to local events, and food. I also won the Kraft free food coupons like you! It only takes me around 15 minutes a day (I use Roboform on most of them), and I enter them while I watch tv in the evening. Here’s to us both winning big prizes!

  • Paula says:

    Yes, entering sweepstakes are worthwhile. My brother entered my husband, Jason Zuelke, in a Lenox Tool Company contest and he is now a top 10 finalist! If he receives the most votes, he will receive a $31,000 cash prize and will donate $31,000 to charity. I would appreciate it if you would take the time to vote for him. If you wouldn’t mind, pass it on to all your friends and relatives so they can vote too. Voting is open until the end of April. Thanks a lot!

    Here is how to vote:
    1. Go to http://www.lenoxhero.com/Voting.aspx and vote for Jason Zuelke. He is the last one on the page.

    2. Put in your email. They will send you an email so you can confirm your vote. If it is not in your inbox, check your spam or junk mail filters.

    3. Click on the link in the email to confirm your vote. Thanks for voting!

  • Paula says:

    Yes, entering sweepstakes is worth your time. My brother entered my husband, Jason Zuelke, in a Lenox Tool Company contest and he is now a top 10 finalist!
    If he receives the most votes, he will receive a $31,000 cash prize and will donate $31,000 to charity. I would appreciate it if you would take the time to vote for him. If you wouldn’t mind, pass it on to all your friends and relatives so they can vote too. Voting is open until the end of April. Thanks a lot!

    Here is how to vote:
    1. Go to http://www.lenoxhero.com/Voting.aspx and vote for Jason Zuelke. He is the last one on the page.

    2. Put in your email. They will send you an email so you can confirm your vote. If it is not in your inbox, check your spam or junk mail filters.

    3. Click on the link in the email to confirm your vote. Thanks for voting!

  • Jennifer says:

    I love sweepstakes- not only have a I won a few prizes, which helps provide for my family and as a stay at home mom- it gives me the satisaction of knowing- while I dont earn a paycheck I can further my family’s dollars for a few minutes of my time. There’s also a boost when your entry comes up winner!

  • Jessica says:

    Like Cathy, I also enter the sweepstakes just about every day. I just click over to the Freebies 4 Mom sweeps page and she has them listed there. I quickly click on the 5 or so I want to enter and fill out each one. It only takes 5 minutes or so, and I win stuff too! Nothing big, mind you, but small is good too!

    I also won the free Kraft products (only once), a free jar of Pace salsa, and I won lots of small bags of chips from a Subway sweeps a few months ago. Nabisco had a sweeps before Christmas where I won a $50 American Express gift card! That’s the biggest win I’ve scored, but even the little things are fun and worth it. Right now my kids love playing the Kimberly Clark matching game. Though we haven’t won anything, it’s been fun for them!

  • Trisha says:

    I recently won a ticket to Universal Studios! Don’t ask me what I’m going to do with it; it has a $96 value, and I don’t really plan on spending $96 x 3 (for the rest of my family), not to mention the cost of getting to and staying in Orlando! It was fun to win none the less!

  • Stephanie says:

    I too am in the group of never-winners. I still enter sometimes, if it is something I would really like, but usually hear nothing from it. On a whim I entered a drawing at a local grocery store (didn’t remember what it was for though). Over a month later I received a FedEx package, found it on my back door. Inside were 52 FREE coupons for a frozen vegetable of a certain brand. All I could figure out was that it must have been that random “why not” decision at the grocery store that got me a ‘free years worth of vegetables’. You never know.

  • Kathy Rambousek says:

    I love entering sweeps too. I never expect to win, and am always blessed when I do. I love finding a box on my doorstep or a surprise in the mail. Most of the time it’s a free coupon, T-shirt, or other goodie, but sometimes it’s a biggie. A few years ago, we were blessed by a 7-night Disney cruise for our family to the Caribbean, and 4 years ago my hubby and I went to the Final Four bb game in San Antonio courtesy of Kraft.
    I treat sweepstaking as a hobby. It costs next to nothing, except time, and you never know……

  • Jennifer says:

    I see the Pampers sweepstakes, but it looks like it costs 3 points to enter. HOw did you find the freebie entries?

  • LANA says:

    My motto is” you can’t win unless you enter!” I believe that that little ray of hope that you get when you enter a contest is worth the time that it took to enter to begin with….and how wonderful it would be to win that grand prize!

  • I’d love to offer a free sample on your site. I am a writer and have a curriculum on line. It would work well with homeschool or any school classroom. Let me know how to contact you with more information!

  • Kimberly says:

    I don’t enter every sweepstakes I hear about, but I like to enter the ones that look fun. My philosophy is that someone has to win….it might as well be me!

    The only one I am currently entering trying to win (by entering almost every day) is for an entire “mobile lab” for the school I teach at. It would be 20-30 laptop computers and lots of other technology-related items. I teach at a school that has over 80% of the students on free or reduced price lunch, so our school is very needy. The kids need to be exposed to so many things, so I feel that entering this contest every day would get us so many things.

    I love getting things on a bargain or for free. Winning a sweepstakes would definitely be getting something for free!

  • Rae says:

    I don’t play often, I used to only enter 1 or 2 per month but I play 1 or 2 quick ones per day now. I haven’t won anything big but I’ve won $5 Chevron and Subway giftcards, haircare products, etc. and that was enough to encourage me to play more.

  • Lisa Coan says:

    A few years ago I entered the “Diamonds Are Forever” sweepstakes and thought I had won one item. turned out I had won the grand prize of about 15 items including a diamond pendant necklace and many other awesome gifts totalling about 9,000 dollars. It was fabulous as I am normally not much of a winner. I have been trying like crazy on all of these giveaways on the blogs and have won 2 items so far. Not bad in only 2 months. I would sure love to win some more of things that I could really use and need. You just never know when your name will be picked so enter away!!!

  • @Dee – Wow, your daughter’s really done well!

    @Jennifer – Toward the bottom of the contest page, it says something like “Click here for alternate method of entry” and will let you play 3 times per day.

    To those who’ve never won – I try to stick with instant win games with daily entries and lots of prizes (I think Heather lists only those with 5,000 prizes or more). I’ve certainly entered played some instant win games faithfully every day and not won anything (the Coinstar game last fall, which lasted for months, comes to mind). Heather’s got a good article with tips on winning instant win games: http://freebies4mom.blogspot.com/2009/02/top-tips-for-winning-instant-win-games.html. Good luck!

  • Patty Farnsley says:

    I love to enter sweeps. I win a few things small here and there. In the past month I have won three contests. One was a doozy. I won $20,000 worth of gift cards for Meijer. It came as a BIG shock needless to say. I usually don’t enter for really big item things unless it’s money (taxes) but this one got by me and lo and behold I won the mega drawing. lol I just enter in my spare time when I’m bored really.

  • tami lewis says:

    i have entered the bloggy giveaways for exactly 1 yr now and have won 61 of them!!! i have entered other contests and won 2. so i am inclined to like contests!

  • tsslug7 says:

    I enter sweeps 10 hrs a day. Over 800 a day.
    I’ve won digital cameras, 1 50″ Plasma TV from Dell, numerous dvd’s & books, tools, movie passes.
    If I avg 800 a day I usually win 8 times a month.
    I’m 61 and I have the time to do it.
    Have fun sweeping!
    God bless our troops

  • Heather says:

    Sweepstakes and Contests are totally worth my time! Especially since I recently won a pretty large one. I’m not the type of person who wins things, and at first, I didn’t really remember what I had entered! I was a little skeptical of this man who called my house telling me I won the “grand prize”, who wouldn’t be!

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