I don't buy lottery tickets. I've been known to enter contests offering a free trip to the other side of the world, without any success to date. But in the last year or so I've found out how to enter competitions, and win things, which gives me a great deal of pleasure.
The secret is to aim for the small things. A contest offering a trip to the UK will attract very many entries and generally only offer one prize. But a number of local magazines and newspapers seem to have frequent offers of smaller goodies, often in multiples - for instance, the New Zealand Listener will often offer movie tickets, with fifty double passes in each of three main centres on offer.
I prefer the prize draws that allow on line or e-mail entry, so that it costs me nothing at all to enter. I have received free movie tickets, twice, a Craig Potton handbag sized diary, a free ticket on a Lyttleton harbour cruise, and $200 worth of book vouchers. The entry for the book vouchers cost me a stamp, but all the rest were online entries.
On Thursday night I made use of a voucher I had won for a local Indian restaurant. I had to do a bit more than send an e-mail for this one - it was won in a local radio station's daily trivia contest - though I didn't have to do much. We listen at my workplace, and when I gave the answer, my boss placed the phone call for me, and his wife picked up the voucher in her lunch hour! (They are good people!)
It turned out that the voucher covered about half the cost of a meal for two, given that we had entrees (which in New Zealand is not the main course, it is what you have before the main course), and drinks, and pappadoms on the side. If we had had takeaways instead it would have covered the full cost of two mains.
I haven't been out to dinner in ages, so it was a very pleasant treat.
Though maybe one day I'll win that big trip, and that will be even better!