• Tips to Win Big Prizes from a Sweepstakes Addict

    by Reruns blogger | Aug 12, 2013

    I have a confession to make. Late at night when the kids and husband are in bed and I’m all alone, I enter sweepstakes online and I win amazing prizes. Just this year, I won an iPad, a $500 gift card to JCPenney’s, several free movie passes, $150 cash and my daughter won $1,000 (in a custodian account). Now, those are the big prizes. During my quest to win a grand prize, like a new car or free vacation, I’ve won many small 2nd, 3rd or even 4th place prices. The smaller prizes are fun stuff, like board games, cooler, blankets, t-shirts or Amazon gift cards.

    I know what some of you may be thinking – ‘Nicole must be the luckiest person ever.’ Honestly, I’m not that lucky, but I am persistent. If you enter enough sweepstakes and enter consistently, you will win. I guarantee it. It’s about law of averages. I only win once every 15 to 30 times I enter, so a lot of ‘sorry, you didn’t win this time’ and a few ‘congratulations, you have won.’

    Sound exciting? Do you want to win cool prizes and start sweeping? It’s very easy to do, absolutely free and can even be an income supplement. There are lots of sites with links to the various sweepstakes online that can get you started. Before you start, here are some tips about sweeping:

    1. Never enter any credit card or bank information. Sweeps will only ask for name, address, phone, age and possibly gender. They are always free to enter and no financial information is required. (Note: if you win a big prize, you will be asked for your social security number to claim the prize.)
    2. Enter consistently to win. Most sweepstakes allow you to enter daily and your best odds to win are if you enter regularly. Even if you can’t do it every day, make a habit to do it a few times a week regularly to see results.
    3. Use a form-filler to auto-fill your basic information on the sweeps form. There are several you can download free or it’s included with Google Chrome. This saves a ton of time, because you don’t have to type your personal information over and over again and can enter more sweeps in less time.
    4. Use a separate sweeps email account. If you decide to enter sweeps regularly, my recommendation is to start a new email account just for sweeps and check it regularly. You will be getting more email entering sweeps and you don’t want to miss important emails from your friends or family or have a full inbox every day. On the same note, make sure to check your sweeps email because sometimes you will receive emails that you won and may need to respond to claim the prize.
    5. Enter sweeps with prizes you want to win. If you really want to win an iPad, enter sweeps that are offering them. I enter sweeps hoping to win prizes that I can give my friends and family for gifts. Several years now, I’ve won a ridiculous amount of toys and goodies for my kids’ Christmas presents.
    6. Don’t give up. If you’re not winning immediately, don’t give up. Many of the sweepstakes don’t draw winners until the end of the promotion which may be several months from now. Keep entering regularly and you will win. You may not believe me now, but when you get your first prize, you will be hooked for good.

    Now that I’ve confessed my secret obsession, I’d love to hear if you are a sweeper. What prizes have you won?

    Author: Nicole McDonald, a stay-at-home mom to three kids, age 7, 4 and 2. She teaches coupon, meal planning, frugal fun with kids and freebies classes and blogs atwww.momsavesmoney.net. Her e-book ‘The Extraordinary Art of Couponing’ is available onAmazonBarnes & Noble and Smashwords.

  • My Struggles as a Mom to a Special Needs Child – How I Accepted the Unexplainable

    by Reruns blogger | May 09, 2013

    My youngest son was born with special needs in 2010. He had cataracts, hypospadias and failed his hearing test. He spent three days in the NICU to run tests and determine what happened to caused all his medical issues, but we never received any answers. A few months later, he was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy and had to wear a helmet to reshape his head. He is now 2 1/2 and is able to walk, can see with bifocals and hears with his hearing aids. He is delayed and speaks a few words, but is picking up sign language quickly. We are hopeful he will communicate with words soon. Does he have a disorder or disease that caused all this? Well, we may never know.

    In the past two years, he has had CT scans, genetic screenings, three genetics specialists, bone scans, blood work, DNA tests, specialty clinics and more tests than I care to remember. The verdict is always: ‘Mr. & Mrs. McDonald, we don’t know what caused your son’s problems’. For the first few years, I just could not accept that the doctors and all these tests could not figure out why my child had so many medical issues and delays. I wanted an answer. I wanted a diagnosis. I wanted to know what to expect. I wanted to know why.

    But, I may never know why our son was born with special needs and I’m going to have to be okay with that.  I would love to know, but the reality is, some things just can’t be explained.  We’ve exhausted all our resources to find an answer. Even three geneticists are completely stumped. They don’t know what tests to run or where to look for clues to make a diagnosis.

    I still struggle with not knowing, but it is getting easier. My son has excelled despite his disabilities and most days I don’t even notice he is delayed. He is just a fun loving, cute toddler who loves to play, laugh and dance.  His disabilities have kept me up crying many a night, but having him in my life has been a blessing. I have learned so much about patience, acceptance and persistence.  He has changed my life in so many ways and I am so grateful for him.  We may never know what caused all his issues, but it doesn’t matter anymore. He is my heart.

    Author: Nicole McDonald, a stay-at-home mom to three kids, age 7, 4 and 2.  She teaches coupon, meal planning, frugal fun with kids and freebies classes and blogs atwww.momsavesmoney.net. Her e-book ‘The Extraordinary Art of Couponing’ is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.