A pub cleaner who has bagged £70,000 price of freebies from entering online competitions says she is the “luckiest person in the country”.
Jolene Stanley, 34, of Wivenhoe, Essex, has gained every little thing from five-star resort breaks to slap up meals in Michelin-starred eating places, since successful her first prize in 2012.
The mum-of-three bagged a top-of-the-range pram price £1,200 in her first competitors, when she was pregnant along with her eldest little one Stanley Constable, now seven, who’s from a earlier relationship, and now takes house a median of between 25 and 35 prizes a month.
Since then, Jolene, who additionally has two kids – Ivy, three, and Charlie, one – along with her associate James Houghton, 28, has scooped every little thing from magnificence goodies to spa breaks, gig tickets, vacation vouchers and toy bundles.
She mentioned: “From the moment I entered that first competition, I was addicted. I wanted to see what else was out there and what else I could win. In the first year of entering competitions, I won £20,000 worth of prizes. That’s my best year to date. In 2019, I won £16,000 worth.”
“I actually make more from comping than I do from my job. I work part-time, so usually earn between £65 and £85 a week from my day job. My friends and family say I’m jammy, and joke that I must be the luckiest person in the country.”
Now a seasoned comper – the time period given to somebody who habitually enters giveaways – Jolene by no means anticipated to win when she first tried her hand at comping however that prize triggered a successful streak and simply two months later, she gained a VIP expertise driving super-cars round a race observe.
“The more I won, the more I wanted to enter,” she mentioned. “I love winning – but it’s not all about the big prizes. I love the little ones too, especially when they come from new brands and small businesses.”
She added: “No words can describe what it feels like when you win a big prize. I’d go through waves of entering loads of competitions, then going a bit quiet. We’re a busy, active family so are often out and about, making it impractical for me to be scrolling through my phone, looking for something to win.”
While she had nice success, her first forays into the world of comping have been disorganised, in response to Jolene, who, relatively than setting apart particular time to scour the online for prizes, sporadically checked her telephone at any time when she had a spare 15 minutes.
But, firstly of 2019, she vowed to be extra organised, saying: “At the beginning of final 12 months, I made a decision I wished to win sufficient to get Christmas at no cost and use all of the prizes as items for my family and friends. So, I began setting apart three nights every week particularly for comping, when James was working evening shifts.
“Once the kids were in bed, I would scroll through Facebook and Instagram to find as much as possible. I’d categorise the prizes, dedicating one day to vouchers, one to toys and one to parenting giveaways. If I spotted something great during the day, I’d enter that, too.”
Jolene’s strategic method paid off, as in 2019, she gained £16,000 price of freebies – and managed to get Christmas for nothing, simply as she hoped.
She mentioned: “I spent just about nothing on Christmas. My whole spend was £65, together with £10 on all three youngsters. Everything else was taken care of by prizes. I gave James a bottle of rum, a tenting range and a sock subscription that I’d gained and we additionally had a household time out at Gulliver’s Travels theme park.
“I gave Stanley a £165 scooter I’d gained, and Ivy a brand new bike. I additionally gained £200 price of Amazon vouchers which I used to get the youngsters another toys and stocking fillers. Then I gave them a £500 climbing body I’d gained as a joint current.
“I received a £200 Tesco voucher and a £300 Love2Shop voucher, which can be utilized at a number of excessive road outlets, which took care of every little thing else.”
One of Jolene’s favorite issues about her passion is that, often on a decent funds, it permits her to spoil her family members. On a number of events, she has taken family and friends along with her on breaks, spa weekends, for afternoon tea or out for fancy meals – and sometimes treats them to hampers made up of magnificence merchandise she wins.
Once a month, she additionally makes a donation at her native meals financial institution, giving them any edible goodies she has.
“A few of my family and friends have tried their hands at comping, too – though they haven’t been quite as lucky as me,” she laughed. “They are constantly asking me for tips.”
Totting every little thing up, Jolene estimates she has gained £70,000 price of goodies since 2012. Her luckiest streak so far noticed her take house 52 prizes in simply 4 weeks in September 2018.
She will get so many packages arriving at her home that she is on first identify phrases with the native postmen and supply drivers.
She laughed: “We went away for the weekend not way back and I got here again to 5 parcels ready for me. The native posties know all about my comping. If ever just a few days cross and not using a package deal arriving, they’ll say, ‘What’s the matter? Haven’t you gained something?’.
“Whatever I can’t find a place for in my house, I’ll store in the attic, or give away to friends, family or charity. I’d only ever enter competitions where I want to win the prize, though. There’s no point winning something you have no use for.”
To date, some of Jolene’s finest prizes embrace tickets to a Spice Girls gig, a four-night keep at a five-star resort in Portugal, a seven-course dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant and a £1,100 cooker.
She has additionally bagged about £three,000 of vacation vouchers, which she has used to go to Italy and Florida – though the latter has been postponed because of Covid-19 – a meal cooked by a personal chef and a visit to Scotland to remain in a comfy log cabin.
Most of her wins come by means of Instagram, however she additionally scours Facebook, the place she is a member of a number of comping teams, and particular boards.
She primarily enters competitions the place all it’s a must to do is like and share a social media put up, or comply with a sure account, however she did as soon as win a vacation by sharing a candy household snap.
“The trip to Portugal will always stand out as one of the best things I’ve ever won,” she mentioned. “It was in 2016, so it was just me, James and Stanley, as Ivy and Charlie weren’t born. We were picked up from the airport by a private chauffeur and driven to this incredible resort. It was like being a celebrity.”
Not solely do her wins make fantastic treats for her family and friends, additionally they make on a regular basis life far cheaper. Jolene usually wins free meals and has netted so many child and bathtub merchandise that she has by no means had to purchase Ivy, now three, any toiletries.
By sharing her story, she hopes to encourage different cash-strapped mother and father to strive their hand at comping.
And whereas it is just August, she is already waiting for Christmas, and has began to focus her efforts on successful issues that may go on to make presents for her household.
She mentioned: “I absolutely love my hobby. I never imagined when I started that I’d win so many incredible things. I’ve been to places I’d never dreamed I’d go, and it’s all thanks to comping.”