By Christina VanGinkel
If I had to choose my favorite hobby out of all that, I participate in, entering contests would not be my number one favorite, but it would be close to the top. I have always been a fan of having the chance to win something for no money. Simply filling out an entry form, maybe answering a few questions, and then dropping it in the mail, or with the advent of the Internet, simply pressing the submit button, and who knows what might be mine for the taking! At the same time, I can honestly say that I am not a big fan of lotteries and other pay to play type contests. Maybe it is because I am what is often referred to as a penny pincher, and the simple fact that I have won enough of the free to enter contests, that paying for the much of the same chances just does not make much sense to me.
My mother was always entering this contest or that contest, oftentimes those that required you to solve a simple word puzzle to progress to the next round. While she knew her chances of actually winning any prize of substance were small, she always had fun participating, and she was rarely without a new puzzle to work on. I am sure that her love of puzzles and contests had a lot to do with my own fascination with contests. I still play and enter some of the very same contests that she did years ago, I as much a fan of playing the games as winning them!
Another reason I love entering, is the fact that I in fact did win two major prizes years ago, and ever since then, even the small prizes are welcome wins. My second big win was for an Internet search engine, and I won $444.44! Nobody believed me when I won it, and they all said that it would never arrive, that it was probably some scam online. Well, it did arrive, and I was thrilled. Not long after that, I won a Sony Playstation 2 game for my youngest son. He not only still has the game, I heard him telling a friend not that long ago, that his mother won it. He sounded quite impressed!
My first big win was over twenty years ago, and it involved a local grocery store. In order to enter, you had to stop at the store and have a card punched. There was no purchase necessary, and there were weeks that I stopped just to have the card punched, as it was on my route to work, yet I did not need anything from the store. If they drew your name, you had to bring in your card to show that it was punched, and you then won the cash that grew each week that they drew a name and that person did not have their card punched. I was working as a waitress, and my husband had been injured on a job that had no workmen's comp. Cash was short, and with two toddlers at the time, we did not have a clue how we were going to make our mortgage that month. I was actually at work one evening when my husband phoned me and asked if I had stopped the previous week to have the card punched for the current week's drawing. I had and I won enough to cover that month's mortgage payment and fill the cupboards with groceries for several weeks.
I have since gone on to win everything from men's boxer shorts, to music CD's, a marker set, and other smaller prizes of cash. Much of the time though, it is truly not the prizes themselves that matter, but the fun of the chase! I love spending time online searching for new contests, and my favorites have become the many instant win games that are so popular. Most are scratch and wins, or spin a wheel type games.
A quick browse through the current online games rewarded me with chances to win everything from free magazine subscriptions, to toys, a year's supply of diapers, various trips, an iPod, music downloads, and gift checks for shopping sprees at select stores.
Instant win games and traditional contests are fun to play. If you have not ever given them a chance, go for it. You have nothing to lose, and always the chance to gain!