Almost every mystery shopper starts in the business with grand ideas about all of the things they will do when the money from their new job starts rolling in. Then, as you wait four, six, or even eight weeks or longer for a measly $10 check to arrive in the mail, reality sets in. You start calculating how much time and effort it will take to earn even $100 in this business, and eventually what started as excitement and enthusiasm for the job dwindles. While you may never get rich as a mystery shopper, there are a few steps you can take to ensure you earn a decent paycheck for your time and efforts.
All Assignments Are Not Created Equal. If you have completed even a handful of mystery shopping assignments, you certainly know that some assignments are much more difficult and time consuming than other assignments. While two assignments may pay the exact same amount, you may exert twice as much effort and get twice as much headache in return for one job as for another. Pay close attention to the assignment requirements before you request a job. All too often, new mystery shoppers or those seasoned mystery shoppers eager to make more money will quickly snatch up an assignment without reading through what they will be required to do to earn the money.
Watch For Hidden Perks. Many assignments offer bonus pay on top of the regular pay, typically when other mystery shoppers have been passing it by for quite awhile. Other assignments offer travel pay or reimbursement for a required purchase, which may also make the assignment more lucrative for you overall. These perks are fairly evident, listed very clearly right next to the shop pay.
Other perks are a little harder to see, such as the tax write-off for mileage expense. It may seem like driving 20 miles out to an assignment is not worth your time. Yet when you consider you can write off approximately $20 in the round trip mileage for this assignment, that might make a $10 assignment a little farther down the road look more appealing to you. In fact, mystery shoppers who regularly shop a little farther outside of the typical travel realm often can show a LOSS on their tax returns for mystery shopping. Meaning, you may end up paying absolutely no taxes on your mystery shopping income, and you may also reduce the taxes you owe on your other sources of income, such as your regular job. Yes, this is entirely possible!
Buy What You Need. It may be fun to walk into a retail store and purchase a new handbag or a pair of trendy new boots for your required purchase on an assignment. But spend a few minutes and think about what you actually need to purchase at that store. Is somebody’s birthday coming up? Or do you need to buy a present for a wedding or baby shower? Do the kids need some new summer clothes? When you apply your expense reimbursement towards purchases you actually need to make, rather than those you simply want to make, you will see your mystery shopping job start to make more of a dent in your personal budget each month.
You probably won’t get rich as a mystery shopper, but you can certainly make your time and efforts at mystery shopping make a financial difference for you each month when you put some forethought into the assignments you choose to spend your time on.