Last month, I registered my e-mail address with a local pizzeria. It took me all of ten seconds and, for my trouble, the pizzeria entered me into its daily contest to win a free lunch. Every day since I registered, I have received an e-mail announcing the pizzeria’s daily specials and the name of the person who won a free lunch. Yesterday, the winner of the free lunch was . . . . me.
I know a free lunch may not be a huge prize, but it saved me $10 yesterday and that is not a bad return for ten seconds of effort. If I could earn that kind of return for one hour of my time, I would make $3,600! That is more than most people earn in a month, I think.
Entering contests on the Internet or by phone is a free and easy way to win prizes and enjoy your time in an inexpensive way. I enter every contest that I see as long as I either (i) want the prize that is offered or (ii) feel that I can sell it. I especially look for contests that allow only one entry per e-mail address because although I am willing to enter once, I never want to return to a website day after day to enter again and again.
I know many people are skeptical about contests, but if you visit only reputable sites, contests are usually quite legitimate. Over the years, I have won some really cool stuff. One day in 1997, in particular, I received two prize confirmations in the mail. I had won a free weekend at a Country Inn in Vermont and I had also won a free four day trip to a beautiful bed and breakfast in Virginia’s wine country, airfare and rental car included!
I have also won countless CDs, movie tickets and pieces of apparel. I have won travel packages, over and above the trips I described above. I have won contests that I entered on the internet, contests that I entered by being the correct caller to radio programs, and contests that I entered by dropping my business card in a jar. As long as I do not need to pay even for a stamp, I will enter almost any contest.
And I know that I probably won’t win, but I really do not care. If I enter a contest, I probably won’t win. If I do not enter a contest, I know I won’t win. I would much rather have a chance of winning than no chance at all and it is always nice to be surprised by an unexpected package in the mail when the prize is delivered.
Entering contests is also a great way to spend idle time, especially if you like to spend your time surfing on the web. Even if you do not want to turn contest entries into a true hobby such that you spend your time seeking out contests, you really should consider entering all of the contests that you happen upon in your daily activities. Even if you win only one contest, you have as much chance as the next person to be the big winner!
Of course, you should keep in mind that you have to pay taxes on prizes that you win, so never enter a contest if the only prize is something that you cannot use or at least sell. Also, you should never provide any confidential personal information as part of a contest entry. I will provide my name, address, phone number and e-mail address because that information is generally readily available anyway. I also stay on sites that are trustworthy based on past experience and the reputation of the companies that I use.
What do you think? Is it a waste of time to fill out contest entries? Have you ever won a contest? If so, what have you won? Do you have any great contest stories that you can share or tips for finding and entering contests that you can offer?