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Sandra Grauschopf

Want To Be a High Stakes Sweeper? Here's How:

By August 17, 2011

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If you watched TLC's new reality show, High Stakes Sweepers, you might be wondering whether you can become a high stakes sweeper yourself. Of course you can! Entering sweepstakes is fun and easy, and the chance to win high stakes prizes is real. Here are some tips to get you started.

1. Have Realistic Expectations about The Prizes You'll Win

Before you get started, realize that winning high-stakes prizes isn't as easy as it looked on the reality show. Every sweeper dreams about winning the big prizes: a new car, a dream home, a huge pile of cash, a trip around the world... the possibilities are endless. But the "bread and butter" prizes for sweepers, the ones that come in regularly, are smaller -- and there's nothing wrong with that. In fact, I have an article listing 5 Reasons to Love Small Prizes.

Prizes like free movie tickets, iPads and game consoles, $100 cash, computers, designer handbags, and the like won't fall under the "high stakes" category, but they are a lot of fun to win and can make your life easier. For the nuts and bolts on how to find and enter sweepstakes, see Getting Started with Sweepstakes.

2. Realize that Wins Don't Happen Overnight

After watching High Stakes Sweepers, you might have the impression that you can wish to win a car and have the win notice appear in your mailbox the next day. However, sweepstakes don't work quite that way. You should realize that you can win sweepstakes, but it takes time.

Don't expect to fill out a few entry forms and wait for the wins to roll in. Decide how many sweepstakes to enter daily, create a strategy to help you organize yourself, and find time to enter every day. Then keep at it every day, even when you start to doubt if you'll ever win. If you start to lose hope, read my tips on Stay Motivated to Win Prizes.

3. Be Aware of Sweepstakes Scams

Sadly, there are people out there who take advantage of the hopes of sweepers to con them out of money. Anyone can fall victim to a sweepstakes scam, but when you don't know how winning sweepstakes work, you might be more vulnerable to believing the con artists.

To protect yourself, familiarize yourself with the warning signs of sweepstakes scams, along with some strange-seeming things that aren't signs of scams.

You should also know what to expect when you do win and how winners are notified.

4. Don't Forget Sweepstakes Taxes

If you live in the United States, you are responsible for declaring the prizes you win on your taxes. In general, you'll pay taxes on the fair market value of your prizes at your individual tax rate, as if you had earned that amount of money as income. For more information, see How to Pay Sweepstakes Taxes for more information.

Because of this potential tax burden, it's a good idea to consider whether the taxes will be worth it before you enter for some of those high-stakes prizes. It might sound great to win a $30,000 vacation, for example, but would you still want the trip if you have to pay thousands of dollars in taxes? If not, that's one reason not to enter sweepstakes.

5. Find Sweepstakes and Get Started!

Do you feel ready to start winning? There are lots of sweepstakes going on right now that you could win, and more sweepstakes start every day. So how can you be sure you aren't missing out on sweepstakes you want to enter?

The first step is to sign up for the free sweepstakes newsletter from About.com Contests. Delivered twice a week to your inbox, each issue contains a round-up of the latest sweepstakes as well as tips and advice to help you win more.

For more ways to learn about new sweepstakes, see 10 Ways to Stay Up-to-Date with Sweepstakes News.

In the meantime, here are some sweepstakes lists to help you get started:

  • Sweepstakes with Mega Prizes: If you want to win high-stakes prizes, start here. All of the prizes on this list are worth $30,000 or above.
  • Car Sweepstakes: If a new vehicle is on the top of your wish list, be sure to enter these sweepstakes.
  • Cash Sweepstakes: If more cash in your pocket is your goal, these are the sweepstakes for you!
  • New Sweepstakes: See the newest sweepstakes added to the About.com Contests site each day.
  • All Sweepstakes Lists: Find the prizes you want to win quickly and easily.

Good luck! If you have any additional questions, be sure to visit the About.com Sweepstakes Forum, where there are lots of friendly and experienced sweepers who can help you.

About.com Contests Newsletter | Sweepstakes Forum | Free Sweepstakes Toolbar

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