Win a house, a car, and some cash…..

The first thing you realize when you stop the 9 to 5 (in my case 8 to 8) is that you have way more time than money.  So with all that time, you fill some of those hours looking for things you can win. That’s what I started doing about a year ago when I still lived in Minnesota.

There are two ways to go about trying to win something, pay to play, or sign up for free contests and sweepstakes. There are lotteries, scratch off tickets, raffles, casino’s and more all vying for your dollar. That can get pretty expensive, and it never worked for me.

I learned my casino lesson many years ago, in Las Vegas. One New Years when I was about 25, 3 of my buddies and I went for 5 days over New Years, a guys trip. None of us had any real money, I had $400 bucks. I didn’t have a credit card, which was a blessing. The first day we were there I headed up the strip, found myself a “Loose Slots” type of casino, and parked myself at a dollar machine. The only thing “Loose” that day was me, and two hours later the only thing I had left in my pockets was Kleenex. Every last dime. I did learn something about Las Vegas that trip. It’s no fun being broke there. My buddies were kind enough to buy me food and a few drinks the rest of the trip but refused to lend me any money to gamble. Those are good friends, even though I didn’t think so at the time. I have not gambled at a casino since.


I was never into scratch offs or raffles either. The lottery interested me because of the huge amount of money you could win. So I faithfully bought my tickets every week, about $10 worth, and sometimes more when the pot got really big. So let’s say it averages out to about $60 a month. $720 a year. 32 years of playing in Minnesota- $23,040 total. How much I have won? My biggest win was $25. Maybe all told $300 or $400 bucks. So I have spent in my lifetime almost $23,000, no wasted that money. Hawaii doesn’t allow the lottery here, and I bought my last tickets before I got on the plane to come here after I sold my house. I was kind of whining about it to my sister after I moved, and she gave me the greatest advice.  “If you always think in the back of your mind that you will win a bunch of money, that alone will prevent you from giving all your effort into something else”. She is absolutely right. Take it from someone who had that problem. Gambling is a zero-sum game. They end up with the sum, you end up with zero.

But before she turned on the lightbulb for me, I spent time poking around on the internet for contest and sweepstakes, the free kind. And there are hundreds of them. Trouble is, most of them are scams to get your email address and try to sell you something. The latest is a few websites get together, come up with a contest, and you enter but are also agreeing to get emails from them. That’s fine if you want a bunch of stuff in your email every day. I don’t. I can tell you right now that in the year of entering this stuff and unsubscribing from hundreds of offers, I haven’t so much as won a pencil. Save yourself a lot of time, and don’t bother. You can follow my sister’s advice on this one too.

That brings us to the holy grail of sweepstakes, Publishers Clearing House’s ten million dollar prize. I always envisioned them pulling their van up to my door, flowers in hand walking to my door, then asking me if the neighbor was home because they won the prize. Have you ever noticed that the big prize keeps getting postponed every few months? This is another sweepstakes designed to get you on their list, keep you involved, and keep trying to sell you magazines. I broke up with them too.

The reason for all this information which you could care less about is I do believe in a couple of things you should enter. One, because I never win anything and I would like someone I know to win them. Second, these are the real deal. No spam, no trying to sell you something. And they actually give out the prizes. And time is running out quickly, so get your entry in if you haven’t already.

The first one is HGTV’s home giveaway. This year it’s a lake home in Vermont and $50,000 in cash. The value of the whole thing is over a million. This one ends on Sept 27th. Just go to HGTV or DIY (Do it yourself) to enter. You get two entries per day. If you win, maybe I can come freeload for a while.

Another one is Great American Country. They are giving away $25,000. That one ends in 3 days. Again, legit and no spam.


The final one is Ford Motor Company. This one goes until Oct. 8th, and you only get one entry. You can either win a brand new Ford Edge or a trip out East. This contest is teamed up with a charity, so it’s a good cause too. Here’s the link:

Right about now you are probably thinking why am I wasting my time on this stuff, and I should be following my sister’s great advice. Old habits die hard. Nothing in life is free. Time is the most precious commodity we have, and I have certainly given up more than my share wasting it on trying to win something.

But as they say…………….someone’s going to win!

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