Tag Archives: Prize

Gratitude Board – My Way of Thanksgiving


In my last post I talked about vision boards – words and pictures put together in a collage to represent things you would like to win.  But there is the flip side to attracting the prizes you want.  I believe it is also important to have gratitude for the prizes you have already won!

My first gratitude board was a small cork board covered with congratulations messages and pictures of the things I’ve won.  Then I had to upsize to a medium sized board.  My luck kept growing, and now I have the biggest cork board I can find with pictures of all the prizes I have won over the years tacked to it.  No matter whether it was a small prize, like a coupon, or a big prize, like a trip, it gets included on my board.

This helps me remember to be thankful for the luck I have received.  I am thankful that winning prizes has allowed me to be generous to friends and family.  And I’m especially thankful for prizes that I can pass on to those in need.  Because while I love winning and keep a lot of my prizes, I believe sharing and gratitude go a long way in creating more luck.

Do you have any traditions of gratitude in your family?  Do you thank sweepstakes sponsors and otherwise show gratitude for your wins?  Please let me know in the comments!


Should I Use My Regular E-Mail Address to Enter Sweepstakes?

When I meet people just starting out sweeping I usually get asked about spam.  It is true that companies running sweepstakes sometimes collect and save your marketing information.  It’s also true that sometimes this information will get sold to third parties so they can advertise to you through e-mail.  There are sweepstakes that let you opt out of further marketing, sometimes by checking or unchecking a box on the sweepstakes entry form.  But, in general, this hobby will generate some spam e-mail.  The more sweeps you enter, the more junk e-mail you will probably get.

But there is a solution!  First, you can create a free e-mail account just for entering sweepstakes.  However, before you delete anything from your designated e-mail address, be sure to check it thoroughly for a winning notification.  I always check both my inbox and spam for winning letters just in case.

Second, some e-mail programs will let you set up filters to help organize your incoming mail.  In my case, anything addressed directly to me goes in to my main inbox.  Any e-mail with the word “unsubscribe” in it goes into a folder I call “Unsubscribe.”  This is because most winning letters will not have this word in it, but spam e-mail will have an option to unsubscribe from their list. While I still browse through the unsubscribe folder, most of what ends up there is genuine spam that I can either delete or unsubscribe from future messages from.

Another thing I do to ensure I don’t miss a winning notification in my unsubscribe folder is use the search feature of my e-mail program.  This feature allows me to select a folder– in this case the unsubscribe folder – and enter a search term.  I search for words like “winner” and “congratulations.”  Usually I don’t come up with anything, but occasionally I find one that didn’t make it into my regular inbox for some reason.

So, while I would recommend a designated e-mail address for entering sweepstakes, I also would not let the spam deter you from entering to win great prizes!  There are plenty of ways to manage your inbox, and seeing that “Congratulations!” message come in has always made it worth it to me.

Don’t Fall Victim to Scams!

You may have seen news articles about someone who fell victim to a sweepstakes scam.  Perhaps they lost money or their identity was stolen as a result.  How do you know when you’re being scammed?  How can you stay safe?

Most scams are e-mails, letters, or phone calls claiming that you have won a prize and requesting personal information or money in order to claim your prize.  It’s important to remember that a legitimate sweepstakes will never ask for your bank account information and there is never a fee to enter or claim your prize.

In my 5 years of entering sweepstakes, I have only received two scam messages.  One was a phone message telling me I’d won eleven free nights of camping.  The caller did not leave the name of the sweepstakes on her message, so I did a Google search for the phone number.  I came up with a private campsite in California that sells time shares.  Just to be sure, I then searched for the name of the campsite and the word “sweepstakes.”  Nothing came up but there were online complaints linked to the phone number. The complaints said they were called and told they won camping but were really targeted for a time share.  I decided not to call back, and they called me about a dozen more times before getting the message.

The other scam was a bit trickier.  I received a “Congratulations” e-mail that listed all the aspects of the prize that I had supposedly won, including airfare, hotel, activities and more.  I looked at my list of sweepstakes that I had entered and it wasn’t there, so I did a little more research just in case I had forgotten to track that one.  I searched Google for the sponsor and sweepstakes name and soon discovered there had been such a contest but that the entry period and prize was awarded one year ago to that day.  Someone else had won it, and now a scammer was using the company’s information about the prize to try to get me to respond with my personal information.  Luckily I caught on in time!

There are ways to stay safe from sweepstakes scams!

  1. Track Your Sweepstakes: If you didn’t enter it, you didn’t win it!
  2. Never give out bank account information or otherwise pay to claim a prize. A legitimate sweepstakes will never ask you for money.
  3. If you receive a vague win notification, be suspicious. Scam sweepstakes usually won’t know your name and won’t list the sweepstakes name or sponsor.
  4. Don’t be afraid to do a little research on the information in your win letter.  Approach it with a skeptical eye until the information can be verified.

4 Instant Wins You Should Enter Before They End!

Instant wins are especially exciting because you learn whether you have won a prize right away.  Sometimes instant wins come along that offer thousands of prizes or prizes with a very high value.  It’s fun to enter these!  There are four instant win sweepstakes going on now with good odds and good prizes.

RetailMeNot – What’s the Deal? Sweepstakes

Mars – Get Charged for the Holidays Sweepstakes

SC Johnson – Help Me Host Sweepstakes

SC Johnson – Help Get Me Home Sweepstakes

Good luck and let me know if you win and what it means to you!

Don’t Get Disqualified! Read the Official Rules

You can learn everything you need to know about a sweepstakes from the official rules.  Reading the official rules helps keep you from getting disqualified.  The first thing you should see at the top of the official sweepstakes rules in that no purchase is necessary to enter.  Legitimate sweepstakes never charge a fee or collect money.  Once you feel confident it is legitimate, you can continue reading and find out these things:

  • Sweepstakes Sponsor
  • Entry Start and End Dates
  • Drawing Date
  • Eligibility – This is an important one.  It will tell you how old you need to be to enter and if there is anything that would disqualify you.  For instance, some sweepstakes are open to everyone over 18.  Others are open to people who only live in certain states, those who live near a sponsor’s store, those who live in specified television viewing areas, etc.  It is good to know if you are eligible to enter so that you don’t waste your time on sweepstakes that will disregard your entries.
  • How to Enter
  • Entry Limit – Another important one.  This will tell you whether you can enter once only or daily, weekly, or monthly.  It will tell you if you can enter once per day or once every 24 hours.  Sometimes if you enter more than you are allowed the sweepstakes sponsor will simply throw out the additional entries.  However, other times it will disqualify all your entries, so be careful.
  • Bonus entries – If the contest allows bonus entries it will tell you how to obtain these.
  • Prizes – The rules will state all the prizes, how many of each are given away, and your odds of winning.  There also may be limits on how many prizes you can win such as one instant prize and one grand prize.

While these are the basics, there is a lot more information in the official rules.  So if you have a question about a sweepstakes, this is a good place to start to learn more information.

(Note: Sometimes a sweepstakes sponsor will post an FAQ on their sweepstakes site that covers some of the basic rules of their contest.  Also, free websites that list sweepstakes for you to enter sometimes have a summary of the important rules with each listing.  While these are helpful, you’ll still want to double-check the official rules for accuracy and complete information.)

How to Organize and Keep Track of Your Sweepstakes

Once you have chosen which sweepstakes to enter, you’ll want to develop a system to organize and keep track of them.  You will want to keep track of each sweepstakes for a couple of reasons.

One is so that you know what you have entered.  That way when you get a winning notification you can check to make sure you entered the sweepstakes.   This practice will keep you safer from scammers.  I’ll get more into scams and what to be on the lookout for in a future post.

Another reason is to keep track of what is a single entry and what is a daily entry.  This way you can be sure not to accidentally enter a single entry more than once, but you will also have a list of the daily entry ones so you can come back to them each day.

There are at least three systems of organizing and tracking your sweepstakes.  I’m sure there are many more and you should experiment and find one that works best for you.

The first is to use your Bookmarks tab in your browser.  Create different folders for types of sweepstakes.  You may create folders for single, daily, weekly, and monthly sweepstakes.  Or you may use expiration dates for the sweepstakes: Exp Jan, Exp Feb, etc.  Alternately you can divide your folders by the type of prize the sweepstakes offers: Trips, Cars, Clothes, Cash, etc.  Whatever you decide, make sure it is a way that is easy for you to find and locate the sweepstakes you want quickly.  You don’t want to waste time that could be spent entering sweepstakes by organizational problems.

A second system is to use an Excel or other type of spreadsheet to organize your sweepstakes.  You can efficiently make columns to indicate various information from each sweepstakes.  Examples of column headings might be Name of Sweeps, Expiration Date, Entry Frequency, and Prize.

Finally, you could use a good old fashioned spiral notebook specifically for tracking your sweepstakes.  You can organize it like either of the above options.  You won’t have the quick-find features of folders or searches, but I definitely know people that use this method successfully.

(Note that there are also free websites for sweepers that offer some amount of tracking.  I cannot recommend a particular one, however, as I have not used any.)

If you have another great system in place that you would like to share on this blog to help others, please post a comment!

Finding Sweepstakes to Enter

There are many great free websites that are resources for sweepers.  These are websites that find online sweepstakes for you.  All you have to do is pick out the prizes you want to win, and enter the sweepstakes offering those prizes.  Some of these sites even have a way to keep track of the contests you are entering so you can be sure to come back and enter again if so allowed by the rules.

Three of my favorite resources for finding sweepstakes are:


About.com Contests

And for a great list of instant wins and “winnable” sweepstakes:

Sweeties Sweeps

Another way to find sweepstakes to enter is to search online for the keyword “sweepstakes.”  When you do this, it is best to only enter sweepstakes for brands and companies that you know so that you can be sure they are legitimate.  Check the websites of your favorite brands, companies, and organizations.  Sometimes there will be a link to promotions, contests, sweepstakes, and free stuff!

One last tip is to create a Google News Alert for the word “sweepstakes.”  This way you will get an e-mail for any new or ongoing sweepstakes that makes it into a news article.

Online versus Mail-In Entries

Why do I enter sweepstakes only online?  Simply because it is easier, faster, and cheaper than mail-in entry.  While there are often mail-in alternative entry, unless you need a free game piece or code to play, mailing in entries takes a good amount longer.  For mail-in you often have to submit an entry on a 3 x 5 card, handwritten with all your information.  You need to buy index cards, envelopes, and stamps.  All entries must usually be on separate cards and in separate envelopes.

If you enter online you don’t need any mailing supplies and you can use the quicker form fill option which I’ll discuss in more detail in an upcoming post. All you need to enter sweepstakes online you probably already have: a computer, internet access, and a winning attitude!

About Online Sweepstakes

You never have to pay money to enter a legitimate sweepstakes. Companies usually run sweepstakes – promotional drawings – to make people aware of their company, brand, or product. They do this by offering the opportunity to win a free prize. Sweepstakes will have in the rules the words “no purchase necessary.”

There are sweepstakes you can enter only one time during the promotion’s period (a single entry) and contests you can enter every day until the promotion ends (a daily entry). Less common but also available are contests that you can enter once per week or once per month.

Sweepstakes can usually be found on the web page of the sponsoring company or organization. But gaining popularity are finding and entering sweepstakes on social media sites, including blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

No matter where you find a sweepstakes, you usually have to fill out a form with your personal information. While this often leads to marketing information in your e-mail box, it also lets the company or organization contact you if you win. The sweepstakes might also have an instant win component which may involve a game you have to play. The fun part about instant wins is you find out right away whether you have won a prize. If there is no instant win component you will not find out if you have won until after the conclusion of the promotion’s drawing.