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Mar 022013
 
 March 2, 2013  Posted by  Hot Deals, Money
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At first glance, the practice of “sweeping” can seem weird, but it can be a way to live the good life without changing your lifestyle all that much. It doesn’t take much time or money to become a sweeper — someone who enters a lot of sweepstakes.

Sweepstakes are different than contests. Contests require some skill and time, such as when you enter a drawing for a prize by writing a jingle for a product, or write an essay about why you should win a bicycle. A sweepstakes, you simply enter; it’s all about luck.

My sweeper friend recently pulled out a list of more than 30 prizes she had won just last year: tickets to several traveling Broadway musicals; a week of summer camp at the zoo for each of her kids; tickets to a local amusement park; and thousands of dollars’ worth of gadgets, clothes, hotel stays and gift cards for stores and restaurants.

Interested in becoming a sweeper? Here are some secrets to success:

Don’t pay money to enter a sweepstakes or contest. If you have to pay for a chance to win, that isn’t much of a prize. Only enter sweepstakes or contests with companies that you know and believe to be legitimate. If you win a contest, by the way, and then the company asks you to pay some fee in order to get the prize, you’re being scammed. In other words, use some caution and common sense here.

Know where to find sweepstakes and contests to enter. Some sites worth checking out: SweepstakesToday, LuckyContests and the Contests page on About.com.

Enter often. That’s how you win. It’s a numbers game. You will lose more than you win, of course, but enter enough sweepstakes and contests and odds are you’re going to win something eventually.  If you’re really dedicated, you might want to consider using Roboform, software that fills out contest and sweepstakes forms for you. Many sweepers swear by this, but there is a price ($9.95 for a year’s subscription, or a one-time fee of $30 to $40, depending on your type of computer) and some contests and sweepstakes don’t allow have rules against software filling out forms. But if you aren’t a sweeper yet, this is a purchase you should consider down the road. Get your feet wet first and see if this is something you really enjoy.

Enter for prizes you actually want to win. Maybe you don’t want this particular gift card or prize, but hopefully you know of a family member or close friend who does. There are a lot of sweepers out there, enough that for about a quarter-century now, there’s been an annual sweepstakes convention. So, yes, you can enter and win a prize and then do nothing with it, but the wrath of your fellow sweepers may bring you bad karma. Seriously. Well, hey, it might. You’ve been warned.

In any case, happy sweeping!

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Geoff Williams

Geoff Williams is based near Cincinnati, Ohio and has been a journalist for approximately 20 years, 13 of that as a full-time freelancer. In that time, he has written for numerous publications including Consumer Reports, Entertainment Weekly, Ladies’ Home Journal and National Geographic Kids. In recent years, he has specialized in personal finance issues, writing for AOL’s WalletPop, CNNMoney.com, Bankrate.com, CreditCards.com and CardRatings.com and most frequently for Reuters and U.S. News & World Report. He is also the co-author of Living Well With Bad Credit. Williams also is a history buff and is the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America and the new book Washed Away: How the Great Flood of 1913, America's Most Widespread Natural Disaster, Terrorized a Nation and Changed It Forever.

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