's first #YourSecondChance winner was selected randomly, but she's acting deliberately.

Meet giveaway winner Susan Blackwell. The Illinois resident is only 43, but she recently retired after suffering a stroke.

“I love entering sweepstakes for a hobby,” she says. “It keeps my mind busy.”

It also keeps her bank account full. Susan won $1,000 in’s first-ever #YourSecondChance Giveaway. You can enter yourself right now, since we’re doing this on a regular basis, much like our college scholarship. The next sweepstakes deadline is April 17.

I’m usually not a fan of contests for cash. I’ve written before about my disdain for lotteries when I told a reader last year, “It’s the mindset of a get-rich-quick fix to all your financial problems.”

So when we created the sweepstakes, I wanted to make sure several things would happen.

First, it costs nothing to enter. I can’t in good conscience advise people how to save money while taking their money.

Second, you don’t have to buy anything to enter. In fact, our rule say, “A purchase does not increase the chances of winning.”

Third, you can win many small amounts. Second place wins $500 and third place wins $250.

My hope is that winners will use the money to pay down debt. That’s one reason I prefer to give away $1,000 every so often instead of $10,000 at one time. I’m a CPA, not a psychologist, but I’ve noticed that when people come into a hefty chunk of money, they tend to overexaggerate how long it’ll last.

Susan Blackwell is using her $1,000 the right way.

“I will help my daughter Rebecca, with her college tuition,” she says. “She is a photography student. It’s her passion, and she would love to work for National Geographic one day.”

Spending our sweepstakes money to make that happen would be a very pretty picture. What will be yours?

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About the Author

Howard Dvorkin, CPA

Howard Dvorkin, CPA

I’m a certified public accountant who has authored two books on getting out of debt, Credit Hell and Power Up, and I am one of the personal finance experts for I have focused my professional endeavors in the consumer finance, technology, media and real estate industries creating not only, but also Financial Apps and Start Fresh Today, among others. My personal finance advice has been included in countless articles, and has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Forbes and Entrepreneur as well as virtually every national and local newspaper in the country. Everyone should have a reason for living that’s bigger than themselves, and besides my family, mine is this: Teaching Americans how to live happily within their means. To me, money is not the root of all evil. Poor money management is. Money cannot buy happiness, but going into debt always buys misery. That’s why I launched I’m glad you’re here.

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