I think it’s safe to say that most personal finance experts and bloggers would advise against buying lottery tickets (CleverDude being the one exception that comes to mind). But it’s equally safe to say that everyone at some point or other dreams about winning the lottery or coming into some sort of windfall. I’m certainly no exception.
Rather than wasting money on lottery tickets, however, I’ve come up with an alternative that’s equally satisfying. And it’s free!
Instead of buying lottery tickets, enter contests and sweepstakes instead.
In about the same amount of time it would take you to drive to a store, stand in line, purchase a ticket, fill in the bubbles, and do whatever else you have to do (I’m not sure because I’ve never bought a lottery ticket in my life), you could easily enter a few contests or sweepstakes online. And let me say again, it’s free!
I acknowledge that you give up some privacy when entering contests or sweepstakes, because you have to provide an email address at the very minimum. But you can set up a free email address that you use only for contests and sweepstakes.
Larger contests and sweepstakes will often ask for additional information, such as your name, age, address and phone number. In such cases, you can also usually provide just a first initial instead of your whole name and a post office box if you have one. Also, don’t forget to check the opt out box if you’d rather not receive marketing communications. For additional tips on entering sweepstakes, check out some tips from The Baglady. Don’t forget to read the fine print and keep in mind that prizes are generally taxable (just like lottery winnings).
My favorite contests to enter are the smaller ones, particularly blog giveaways. They usually require just an email address unless you win. And the odds are considerably better since the number of entries is smaller. Of course, the prizes are smaller, but you still get the thrill of winning. And it’s really not so different from buying scratch-off lottery tickets where the most frequent prize is a few dollars.
So where can you find contests and sweepstakes to enter? You can always check out my other blog, CFO Reviews, for starters. There are also sites that aggregate giveaways and contests. Some of my favorites are PRIZEY, An Island Review, and Freebies4Mom (which posts links to free samples as well as sweepstakes).
I know there are lots of other sources out there, so please share your favorites in the comments!