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Tabs' Blog

Mystery Shopping

Tabitha Helms

About a month ago, I was reading a post by Dave Ramsey on four ways to boost your emergency fund. I was pleased to find they were doable, even for me!

1) Sell something. I'm planning to have a garage sale about a month before my wedding when I'm ready to start transferring my stuff over to my new home! 2) Get a second job. I lead worship at Celebrate Recovery on Fridays and earn some extra money that way. 3) Make little cuts in your budget. Using coupons more often and stopping an unneeded subscription made this quick change. 4) Find extra income opportunities. He mentioned paid surveys, and for some reason I also thought about mystery shopping and decided to learn more about it.

I read an article on Forbes about a person who started slowly with mystery shopping when he was in law school. Over time, it built up so that he was making about $14k a year from it. At the end of the article, it had a link for MSPA North America where there was a list of several mystery shopping companies you could sign up with. I decided to give it a shot and see what happened.

I applied with three companies, and have only completed an assignment with one company so far. I have one more this weekend with another, but it's been a positive experience so far!

When you first start off, it doesn't make as much money. Most companies offer you more job options the more you turn in good reports on assignments. And if you're smart about what you buy while on a job, then you don't have to be reimbursed as much. You also have to pay up front for things, and turn in copies of your receipts. Paychecks come via PayPal usually in a couple weeks.

Most companies require you to write a description of a recent outing as part of the application process so they can see if you're a good writer and pay attention to detail. Make sure you spell/grammar check before you turn it in!

Company 1: Amusement Advantage

This one has amusement parks, zoos, museums etc. This is the company I did a job with on Sunday. With what I spent while on the job, I only made an additional $10-$15. But it was like getting paid for a fun outing with my fiancé that included lunch, a ride, some tours and educational talks. These jobs tend to be more in depth because these kinds of places you spend a lot of time there instead of just a meal. So be prepared to do a lot while there. You can record conversations on your phone to play back later when you write your report, and you can be on your phone periodically to jot down notes and names of employees you interact with. This was an easy application. Click on "Shopper Application"

Company 2: A Closer Look

This one varies. Most jobs are restaurants, like the one I'm going to on Sunday. This was a bit lengthier of an application, and seems somewhat intimidating. But it wasn't too hard, and I heard back from them fairly quickly. Click on "Become a Shopper."

Company 3: iSecretShop

I haven't signed up for any with this company yet. There were a few at a store near me, but you had to pay $500 for something and ship it back. It was a lot of money up front around Christmas season! What I like about this one is they have two amounts they pay you: a reimbursement fee AND a shop fee. So you get reimbursed up to a certain amount that you spend (like having spending money) and then you're paid an additional amount for doing your job. For example, the store one was a reimbursement fee of  up to $600 and a shop fee of $45. Click "Register" to sign up with this company.

For any of these that ask for where you were referred, please put my name in! Some of the companies pay you when someone completes their first job if you recommended them (another way to earn money!)

If you have any questions, let me know!