Before you read any further, let me say this openly: Beware of scams. Scams can be on the Internet, via email or in the classifieds of writing journals or on writing sites. Always check the reviews of contest sites where the reputation may seem questionable.
You can cash in on writing contests. You need to know where to look. You need to know what to look for in a contest as well as what to be on the look out for. Keep your eyes open.
Here's a short list of where to look:
You can also check out the Foundation Center. They have grants for individuals that cover arts and culture. Try your state-wide arts council and your local municpalities such your county, city or regional arts councils or cooperatives. In California, for instance, I search the artist calls on the California Arts Council's site.
It is well worth the work of the research for such contests and grants, even awards.