Monday, January 14, 2013

Win a Sweepstakes

Within the last five months, I have won ten different sweepstakes. Let me start off by differentiating between a sweepstakes and a contest. A Sweepstakes is a random drawing that is completely won by luck. A contest is won as an accomplishment based on merit. Sweepstakes are an embodiment of the American Dream. You can win something for doing nothing more than filling out a form with your name, address and by living within the United States. A contest requires more active participation. For these you need to submit the best picture, recipe, description or essay. If you are skilled and willing to work a little harder, contests are easier to win due to the number of entrants. I think of myself as skilled and NOT willing to work harder, so I stick mostly to sweepstakes. I’m not really interested in writing a well-thought out essay as to why I prefer this brand of toilet paper or why these are the best insoles and how this battery has changed my life. Therefore, I primarily stick to sweepstakes.

I got started sweeping by seeing the winning firsthand. We went to visit Leigha’s and uncle in Colorado and she kept receiving small things in the mail. One day she got a candy bar another she got some pencils. She told me that she entered about twenty sweepstakes a day and on average, she won something every week. I wasn't too interested in winning knick-knacks and trinkets so I wasn't yet convinced. Then she started to list off the different things that she’s won. Gift cards, a kindle fire, $1,000 cash, etc. I was sold.  After careful consideration, I decided to start a new e-mail address that was solely for entering sweepstakes. By my calculations, if I entered twenty sweepstakes a day for a year, that meant seven thousand entries turning into a ton of junk e-mail. Next, I started following a couple different Sweepstakes Websites. SweetiesSweeps.com and JustContests.com e-mail me a list of sweepstakes every day they save me the work of having to find sweepstakes on my own. I also follow JustFreeStuff.Com. While this is not a sweepstakes website, per se, there are sweeps as well as free samples. The samples aren't generally as desirable as the things that you can win otherwise, but they are guaranteed.
Three months after I started entering sweepstakes, I won my very first one. I opened my mailbox and I saw an envelope from Larabar. Inside was a note saying that I won a sweepstakes with an enclosed coupon for a free bar. While it may seem like three months is a long time to enter things every day with a small payoff of a single protein/candy bar thing that wasn’t really that good. But I knew going in that many of the sweepstakes that I was entering didn’t end for at least a month and it takes time to get a good payoff. This also brought something to light that I wasn’t aware of: sometimes you win and they give you no notification. They just send you what you win. This makes every day like Christmas when you go to the mailbox. You never know what you might get. Next, I won a free pack of batteries. For anybody that has two young kids, you can appreciate free batteries.
Next I won two sweeps that I never actually used in the same week. A free music download and some free photo prints that you had to pick up at a store that didn’t exists within 100 miles from me. I was starting to think that spending as much effort every single day was, perhaps, a waste of my time when I won my first sweepstakes of value: The SodaStream Source. This was a pretty cool machine. Essentially, it carbonates water and it comes with flavorings to make your own soda.
Next, I won a free bottle of cologne from American Eagle.
Then a sippy cup. While I am done having kids, many of my friends are just starting. (Gift!)
Then I got a 24 pack of Keurig Coffee Cups and some Biscotti. (Another unannounced win). Because I don't have a Keurig coffee maker, it ended up being an awesome Christmas gift.
Then a Welch’s pack. This consisted of a jar of both strawberry and grape natural spread. As well as a container to take your PB&J to go with a little spreading knife. Then there were four coupons for a free Welch's Jam, Jelly or Spread (any size). With two young kids and a personal love for Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches, this was a big win for the Williams household.

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