10 Seconds to Free Stuff

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?

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6 Responses to 10 Seconds to Free Stuff

  1. Ann says:

    I’ve never won on those kinds of things, but about once a month I’ll buy a lottery ticket just for the heck of it. Surprisingly enough, I’ve had small wins on that! LOL Just enough to pay for my occasional ticket.

    The pleasure comes in the dreaming of what I’d do if I ever won big. Chances aren’t very good, but, so long as my small winnings pay for the dreaming, it costs me nothing and is a bit of fun.

    Oops! One correction. :-) To help out a charity event of a co-worker, I did buy a raffle ticket once and ended up winning a tiffany style lamp, which goes great with my antique furnishings. I did it ’cause it was for a good cause and was actually shocked that I’d won! LOL

    It’s those little, unexpected wins that make life interesting.

  2. fern says:

    It’s a waste of time to enter national contest or those otherwise on the internet. You’ll never win.

    I do enter contests when i see them when they’re local, like the quilters in my hometown doing a raffle for a quilt, and that sort of thing. Your odds are more like 200 to 1 vs 2 million to 1.

  3. Persephone says:

    Contests are fun, but now I always consider the tax aspects before I enter. Once I won a vacation (which I did enjoy), but when the 1099 came along I was surprised. In retrospect, I woudn’t have claimed the prize had I contemplated the tax liability.

  4. Tom says:

    I generally enter contests run by organizations I believe in or would support anyway, even if I didn’t have a chance of winning anything. So nearly every contest I enter has some sort of entry fee. If I win, great. If not, well at least I know the money’s going to a good cause. As you can imagine, I enter a lot of raffles, and I’ve won a lot of terrific prizes, including but not limited to: wine, movie tickets, concert tickets, dinners, theater tickets, books, magazine subscriptions, and a gas card.

    I’ve never won anything so valuable that I had to pay taxes on it. But that reminds me of something that isn’t directly related to this thread but is kind of interesting anyway: Back in high school, a friend of mine won a super expensive car from a Boston radio station during a call-in show. She didn’t enter any contest. She just called the station and answered some music trivia question. I’m pretty sure she won either a Ferrari or Lamborghini. She was in high school and couldn’t afford the taxes or insurance, so she opted instead for a less valuable cash prize. Her family built an addition on their house with the $$$. Another friend of mine won $1000 from the same station–just for being the right caller at the right time. So call those radio stations!

  5. Horlic says:

    Congratulation to you! I wish to be next one.

  6. spicoli says:

    I’ve entered a lot of contests but I have never won any. I suppose it would be worthwhile if I ever won anything that I could use.

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