Dear Community,

Happy New Year!  It’s with great pleasure that we announce the winners of the Yakezie Writing Contest.  We received thirteen essays from America and one from Singapore for a chance to win a contest pool of $1,000.  Originally, we had only planned on awarding $500 to one winner.  However, thanks to the generosity of 38 other donors besides Chris and myself, we were able to raise much more and therefore open up the contest to three winners.  To see how we decide how much to give away and to how many applicants every month, please see here.

The three winners wrote essays that captured the attention of the audience and never looked back.  They were very personal and highly memorable.  All three applicants are in high school and look to further their education by going to college.  With the proceeds from the Yakezie Writing Contest, they will be employing the funds accordingly.  Make us proud!

Announcing the winners of the HowToSaveMoney.Com Yakezie Writing Contest

1) The Gift Of Caring by Kaitlyn with 455 votes.  Applicant to receive $600.

2) Life Father… Like Son by Adan with 412 votes. Applicant to receive $300.

3) The Drug Dealer by Stepan with 278 votes. Applicant to receive $100.

The 4th and 5th place finishers received 274 and 234 votes, respectively.  The 14th place finisher received 134 votes.  For those of you who did not win, you are welcome to enter again until you do.  For those who’ve won, you are free to enter again after two more Writing Contest rounds are complete.  Please tell your classmates about this opportunity, give them some guidance, and share with them your winning essay!

We want to let you know that all of you are winners for entering.  So much of life is just showing up and trying because so many people do not.  We’re sure your teachers and parents are proud of you, and you can now say you got published on the largest personal finance and lifestyle network on the web!  College admissions officers also love that you’ve put yourself out there and made an effort.  If you would like mentoring, or need advice on anything personal finance or life related, please feel free to either e-mail us or ask in the Yakezie Public Forums.  We are more than happy to help!

Please e-mail us either your Paypal address or physical mailing address so we can send you the Scholarship proceeds.  We are at theyakezie AT gmail DOT com.

Tips for future applicants:

* Do submit early and provide all pertinent detail, including a picture of yourself.  Please write a short bio about yourself and what makes you tick at the end of your essay submission.  The more the reader gets to know you, the better.

* Encourage your friends and family to visit the competition and vote.  To be fair, please have them vote for all participants.  Part of success is how well you market yourself.  This is an important skill you will need in college and in the work force.  Others inevitably will market themselves, so you might as well too.  The Yakezie Members have a 3X vote weighting and will also vote to ensure fair play.  At the end, we will tally up the non-Member votes vs. the Member votes and see if there are any inconsistencies.  With hundreds of people voting, generally the discrepancies should be minimal and the best written essays that connect with readers should receive the most votes.

* Tell us a story.  The best essays are those that capture the imagination of the reader and allows us to feel what you are going through.  Make us want to root for you!

* Think about a unique title that is pertinent to your essay.  Also try and think about what your other applicants will be writing about and perhaps do something different.  This is called leveling, another useful skill to learn.

* Do check for punctuation and grammar.  Ask your friends, parents, or teachers to read your essay and provide suggestions.  Often times we are blind by what we write and cannot see obvious errors without the help of others.

* Applicants should feel free to interact with reader comments once their posts are live.  It shows that you are listening and are a part of the community.  The Yakezie is all about community interaction.  Notice how all three winners responded back to comments.  The more you respond to readers, the higher the likelihood they will warm to you.

* Follow us @Yakezie on Twitter because we do highlight multiple updates throughout the competition that you may want to be aware of.

* For bloggers who feel particularly strongly about of set of applicants, please feel free to highlight their posts on your site like Kevin did here on Investing It Wisely entitled, “My Favorite Yakezie Essays” .


We realize many of you are away for the holidays, however we at Yakezie have a goal of hosting at least six contests in 2011 and reward at least 18 winners.  The following four questions are there for you to address in any way you wish.  You do not have to address every sub-question .  They are there to help craft your compelling essay.  Please utilize the tips we’ve shared above.

* Tell us about a world event that had a profound impact on you.  What changed in you for the better?  What changed in you for the worse?  Why couldn’t you realize the better changes before the event happened?  Why did an event have to happen in order for you to see the world a little differently?

* If you won a $20 million dollar lottery, who would be the first person you’d call?  Would you call anybody?  Describe in detail what you would do with the money.  How long do you think your happiness from winning the lottery will last?  Why do you think so many wealthy athletes and other famous figures go broke?

* Do you believe in second chances or even third chances?  Please explain why. Is there an extent to how bad an act you do before there are no more second chances?  Tell us about a second chance you got or did not get. What have you changed about yourself to make you a better person?

* What are the attributes that makes someone a success?  What does success mean to you?  Describe a time where you thought you were successful, but in reality, it turned into a failure.  What were the lessons learned?  Do we really need to focus on success to be happy?  Can we be happy without being successful?

Length: 700-1000 words.

Target demographic: College students who are paying for the majority of their tuition out of their own pocket, through loans, or with scholarships.  High school students or below who are looking for money to pay for college or buy school related items.

Number of finalists to be published: Up to 10 to be published if there are up to 20 applicants.  If there are more than 20 applicants, we will publish the best 30 and run a concurrent contest and Member Article schedule on for the month. 

Deadline for submission: Saturday, January 22th at 6pm EST.

We will be launching the submission page by Friday, January 7th if not sooner.  Thanks again to all applicants, donors, voters, and those who supported the Yakezie Writing Contest with their Tweets and blogs!  Special thanks to Alan Dunn for being our main sponsor whose site teaches us how to save money and invest for a better future.   Any interested sponsors, please feel free to e-mail us.

You can submit for the second Yakezie Writing Contest here.  Due date is January 22, 2011.

Thanks again!

Sam, Chris, & The Yakezie Writing Contest Committee

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