Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Rules of Winning

With my current giveaway going on, I thought it would be appropriate to bring up one of my favorite sources of free stuff- contests and giveaways! I love to enter contests and giveaways (almost as much as I love offering them myself) and I have gotten some great stuff from them- just today I stopped by the library to pick up my 2 free books I won by entering a drawing, along with a free book for each of my children that they won from drawings! It took only a few seconds to fill out the entry slip (name, phone number, books we read) and lucky us- we got picked!

But how do you make the contests and giveaways worth it? Well, there is never a guarantee with a drawing that you will win, but here are a few Rules of Winning that I like to follow:

1. ENTER! This might seem obvious, but it is the most important rule: you'll never win anything until you participate! Don't ever let the idea of slim chances deter you. There is always a winner, and you have the same chance as anyone else. Why couldn't it be you?

2. Crumple- This sounds a little silly, but if you're entering a drawing, it sometimes helps to crumple your paper (rather than folding it or leaving it flat) because it will take up more space and stick out more, so a hand feeling around for a random piece of paper will be more likely to pick it. It works, seriously! (hey, I won the books, didn't I?)

3. Know the rules- Check all the fine print listed on an entry form, not only to protect yourself but to increase your chances of winning. Can you enter more than once? Can other members of your household enter as well? How often can you win from that source (most radio stations have a 30-day minimum limit between wins)

4. Be on the lookout- The drawing I mentioned that I won was at the local library. Libraries often have very easy and simple drawings and contests, both for you and for your kids. Other favorite places to win things are stores, radio stations, mailers, and websites. The only businesses I don't recommend entering drawings for are home improvement companies. Once they have your information they call you and try to schedule estimates, which leads to annoying salespeople, and personally, I just don't think it's worth the hassle.

5. Extra tips for winning off the radio- Thanks to my husband for these! Have the radio station's phone number on speed dial, and press "send" as soon as you hear the "key word"- for example, if you have to answer a question to win, wait until you hear them say the word, "question" just before they read the question. That will be when they are clearing the lines to take callers, and if you jump the gun and start your dialing, you're more likely to get through.

5. Beware- As always, protect your personal information. Be cautious of the information you give out when entering contests and drawings.

To inspire you, here are a few other things my husband (he is the Radio Winning Champion because he is on the road all the time- they know him by name at the radio station!) and I have won in the last few years:

- $100 gift certificate to a day spa (won through registering via a radio station e-mail list)
- DVDs (won lots off the radio)
- Tickets to the symphony (radio)
- $50 gift card to Bookbinders, a very nice upscale restaurant (radio station promo event- just had to show up and register to win a diamond ring at a jewelry store and we got to pick our prizes)
- Tickets to the zoo (radio)
- Tickets to the State Fair (radio)
- American Idol board game (radio)
- Tickets to new movie screenings (radio)

There have also been times when we have won tickets and then been unable to attend the event, due to scheduling conflicts. When this happens, we either offer the tickets to a friend, or we sell them at a lower price than retail. A little extra cash never hurts!

Happy winning, everybody!

What have you won lately? Do you have any tips to share to increase your chances of taking home the prize?

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