How Mystery Shopping Can Empty Your Wallet

If you have chosen to work as a mystery shopper for your part-time or full-time job, you most likely are not mystery shopping for the fun of it. While few will argue that mystery shopping is indeed a fun job, the bottom line is that you are working to earn money. You may have bills you need to pay, savings goals you want to meet, a retirement account to fund or some other specific reasons for working. While you may be collecting regular paychecks from your mystery shopping assignments, the fact is that mystery shopping may actually be emptying your wallet rather than filling it with cash.



As a mystery shopper, you are an independent contractor. This means that you don’t have an employer taking money out of each paycheck that you earn to pay your annual taxes. Instead, at the end of the year, you will be required to pay taxes on the full amount of money you have earned as a mystery shopper. For many mystery shoppers, such a high tax bill can be burdensome. You can, however, minimize your tax burden by keeping track of all of your business-related expenses like office supplies, home office expenses, travel costs and more.


Required Purchases

Some mystery shopping assignments can be rather lucrative, and you can use the required purchase and purchase reimbursement to pay for those essentials that you otherwise would have had to buy anyway. These are purchases for things like a haircut, groceries, shoes for the kids and gas for the car. Other assignments, however, can really drain your wallet if you aren’t careful. Consider, for example, a mystery shopping assignment in a jewelry with a required purchase of at least $25 and an expense reimbursement of $5. You can tell right away that this assignment will cost you money because the reimbursement doesn’t even cover the minimum amount of the required purchase. However, you may also consider that you will be hard-pressed to find anything in a typical jewelry that is priced close to $25.


The Value of Time

When you choose to spend your time mystery shopping, you are choosing not to work in other types of jobs. These other jobs may have a set hourly rate of $10, $15, $20 per hour or more. By choosing mystery shopping as a job, you are giving up the opportunity to earn a guaranteed income from an hourly job. Most mystery shoppers who have done the math and who are diligent workers may be able to easily earn the equivalent of $15 or more per hour. However, if you are a slower mystery shopper and enjoy taking your time with each assignment, the fact is that another type of job that doesn’t have a financial reward for efficiency may be more profitable for you.


Mystery shopping can indeed empty your wallet if you don’t pay attention to the small details. However, by tracking business-related expenses, choosing assignments with a lucrative and beneficial required purchase and working in an expedited fashion, mystery shopping can be a profitable job.