As a teenager, on the school holidays, we’d spend hours together doing the puzzles.
‘Your writing’s neater than mine,’ Nan insisted.
So, I’d carefully print the answers on the page.
We were so excited when once, we won a set of five books, and another time a kids’ toy pack.
It didn’t matter what the prize was – the thrill of winning was electric!
Sadly, we lost Nan, aged 83, in 2009.
In 2016, my husband, Brad, and I welcomed our little girl, Lily.
When she was one, I went back to work part-time.
I’m not earning nearly what I was, I thought.
How could I supplement our income?
I’d always entered radio contests on the drive into work.
Now, whenever I could snatch half-an-hour when Lily was napping or after she’d gone to bed, I’d scour the web for comps to enter.
Within no time, I’d won a waterproof speaker!
Brad would roll his eyes, but I’d drag him along on my adventures anyway.
Once, we had to turn up at the radio station at 6am in the freezing cold for a chance to win domestic flights.
When Brad’s name was drawn out of the barrel, he had to run barefoot across a bed of LEGO pieces.
But we won! And we had a weekend away to Brisbane.
One day, my mum, Lyn, was visiting when I heard the radio was giving away tickets to see the singer Pink.
The first person to reach a certain spot dressed all in pink would get the prize.
It was only a 20-minute drive away!
I’ll make that, I thought.
Scrambling, I found tights, a tutu, a jumper – and even a scrunchie to top it off.
Leaving Lily with Mum, I raced off.
Arriving, another person had just beat me. But it was so much fun, I didn’t mind!
Then scrolling through Instagram one day, I saw a boutique was giving away $1500 worth of clothes.
Tell us why you deserve to win in 25 words or less, the post read.
Just then, I had a flashback.
Recently, I’d had to pop into work quickly on my day off – wearing trackies!
‘Leigh, there’s a fine line between hipster and homeless,’ my colleague remarked.
Recounting the tale, I was the winner!
‘In your face!’ I laughed, telling my workmate.
‘I should get a share of that,’ he quipped.
Then, last year, I saw a segment on Sunrise about a website called Competitions Guide. They collated the 10 best comps each day.
What can it hurt? I thought, tossing up whether I should fork out the $40 for the annual fee.
But it was worth every cent! Soon, I was winning prizes every week – sometimes several!
Whether it was a trip to the Gold Coast to hang out with the Red Bull racing team, a $150 movie voucher, $100 to spend at Woolies, a scooter, or a beach towel, I was grateful.
What we didn’t need, I’d sell, or pop in a cupboard upstairs ready to re-gift.
At a little mate’s birthday party, Lily gave him a Paw Patrol toy pack we’d won worth $100.
The look on his face melted my heart.
‘Oh my God, you spent a fortune!’ his mum exclaimed.
‘I really didn’t,’ I said.
‘You won it, didn’t you?’ she laughed.
I even went on The Chase on TV and won a share of $37,000. My cut was $9250!
And when a local shopping centre was giving away a $17,000 Toyota Yaris, I decided it was mine.
Every time customers spent $1 in any of the stores, they could enter again. So,
I did all my shopping there, and even ate there for lunch instead of going to a cafe.
Nearly two months before the draw, I found out I was one of 10 entries drawn out of the barrel.
Every day, I pictured myself winning the car – even down to what Lily, then three, and I would wear to collect our prize!
On the big day, my girl and I waited in line as the five contestants before us drew a key out of a box and tried to open the car.
Finally, it was our turn, and Lily plucked out a key, before handing it to me.
Pressing the button, I heard my friend Alia scream out as the rear lights of the car flashed and the doors unlocked!
‘The kid chose the right key – the lucky charm!’ the announcer exclaimed, as the crowd went wild.
‘Yesssssss!’ Brad screamed from the sidelines, where he was capturing the moment on video. ‘You actually won it – you said you would!’
Incredibly, the 87 prizes I won last year were worth $40,000.
Since the COVID-19 restrictions, there haven’t been as many comps to enter.
But my 11 wins still add up to $3000!
My mates like to call me the Prize Pig.
‘I won a car!’ I’ll respond with a grin.
You’ve gotta be in it, to win it! is my motto.
‘When I pass away, I want that on my headstone!’ I’ve told Brad.
Someone’s got to win – it might as well be me!
LEIGH'S TOP TIPS
■ Pick competitions that others will put in the too hard basket, such as entries that call for 25 words or less, or a video. Be creative and make the judges laugh.
■ Change your habits. If you usually reach for one brand of chips, but another is giving away a holiday, it’s a no-brainer!
■ Join competitionsguide.com.au