Consider the contest queen. Her name is Carolyn Wilman, an Oshawa resident with a marketing background who’s won everything from kilograms of Goldfish crackers to a trip to the set of a Harry Potter movie in England.

Wilman began entering contests not only for fun but to balance motherhood with the always important task of creating some income. In her quest for free goodies she even combed neighbours’ recycling boxes for the pin codes on packages to enter manufacturers’ website contests.

I know, you’re thinking dumpster diver! But wait for what happened next. She parlayed her passion into a book, a dynamic website with tips and a consultation service to companies to create and improve their promotion strategies.


Her story should be encouraging to those who’ve lost a job, are reluctantly considering a return to work after having a baby or who are just plain sick of the rat race and want to do something different.

If count yourself among the above group then I suggest you start by doing an inventory of your life. List your skills, hobbies, passions, education, training and resources. Then start thinking about how you might meld these interests and strengths into something that can make you some money and feed your soul. But be practical! Don’t expect to quit your day job tomorrow.

– Alison Griffiths is a financial journalist, author and host of Maxed Out on the W Network. Write to her at

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