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

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If you've seen news stories about people winning major prizes, 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 easy. Every sweeper dreams about winning 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 you can count on to come in regularly, are smaller -- and there's nothing wrong with that. In fact, sweepers have an important motto about this: a win is a win.

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're 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 You Won't Win Overnight

If you read winning stories about 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, stick to your plan, even when you start to doubt if you'll ever win. If you start to lose hope, read How to Stay Motivated to Win Prizes.

3. Be Aware of Sweepstakes Scams

Sadly, there are people out there who take advantage of the hope of winning to con sweepers out of money. Anyone can fall victim to a sweepstakes scam, but when you don't know how 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.

Because of this potential tax burden, it's a good idea to consider whether the taxes will be worth paying 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 a good 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?

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.