Friday, September 3, 2010

Mystery shopping

I know I've mentioned before that we often do mystery shops to save money on our date nights. Mystery shopping is a great way to pick up a little extra cash and/or save money on entertainment. It is however, work. I've been doing it for years, so I can enter the forms pretty quickly and I have a good feel for what I need to remember when conducting the shop, but I can remember those first few shops taking me an hour or more to conduct.

As it can be time consuming to enter the shop details, I go through periods where I conduct a lot of shops, but then, when life gets busy, mystery shopping is one of the first things to go. I enjoy doing them, but I don't make enough money to keep at it if I'm really busy.

This was a slow work week for me (holiday week), and the kids were in school, so I picked up a few shops. Just an example of what you can expect:

Yesterday at the mall I did two clothing shops - together I'll get paid $35, plus a bracelet I purchased. Today, since the kids are at Grandmas, I'm doing a movie shop where I'll get to see a movie I've wanted to see, along with a free drink. Plus, get paid $5.

A few pointers if this is something you are considering:

1. Go to Volition to find quality mystery shopping companies.
2. Sign up for LOTS of companies - back when I didn't have kids I'd sign up for 5 a day - that gives me dozens to choose from.
3. NEVER pay for mystery shopping - if you have to pay money, it's a scam.
4. If you decide to do shops, try to cluster them - for instance yesterday I did two shops at the mall - I was there anyway, and it maximized my time. Or, I'll select shops that are near an area I plan on going to anyway and then I'll work my errands around the shop.
5. Be prepared to spend some time inputting the shops - eventually you'll get pretty proficient at it, but it can take a while at first.
6. Make dinner shops your date night, or restaurant meal for the week - this will definitely cut your entertainment budget even if you don't make any extra cash.

If you decide to pursue this for some fun extras, have fun with it. You won't get rich quick, but the perks can be fun!

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