If you are like most mystery shoppers, you initially scan over the job boards and click on those assignments with the highest level of compensation first. This does seem like a great strategy at first, as you don’t want to spend your time working on lower paying assignments when higher paying assignments are available. Yet the fact is that compensation on assignments is not always what it may seem at first. Often, more in-depth analysis is worthwhile and may help you to make even more money as a mystery shopper on each of your assignments.
All Sources of Compensation
One thing to consider when looking at assignments and analyzing their value to you is all sources of compensation they may provide to you. There are monetary sources of compensation, which does include the base pay listed on the assignment. Monetary compensation may also include bonus pay and travel pay. Then there are non-monetary sources of compensation, which includes the required purchases and the expense reimbursement you receive as a result. If you want to see the total compensation for a specific assignment, you will want to include all of these sources of compensation in your calculations.
If you have been keeping a mileage log for your mystery shopping travels for a few months,, or especially for a year or longer, you no doubt have proof of how many miles you travel as a mystery shopper. These miles add up, and in some cases, they equate to essentially earning income on a tax-free basis. The mileage deduction meets or exceeds the income earned. This is an important benefit that cannot be overlooked, and so you do want to check out the total miles required for you to travel for a specific assignment. Consider if the compensation for that assignment can be earned tax-free when you take into account the miles traveled.
In an ideal world, you would be able to earn income as a mystery shopper without incurring any expenses. However, in the real world, there are expenses associated with mystery shopping. Your required purchase may exceed the maximum amount of reimbursement offered, and so you may have to come out of pocket to pay for that required purchase. There are also travel costs involved as well. Gas is the obvious travel cost, but wear and tear on your car as well as the cost of time to travel to the location and back should be calculated, too.
As you can see, there is far more involved in determining just how lucrative an assignment may be for you than simply looking at the base compensation offered. In fact, with so many different factors involved, you actually cannot go off of base compensation at all. The next time you visit the job boards, you will want to take a closer look at all factors that affect your compensation. You may be pleasantly surprised to discover that some of those assignments that you have been overlooking and passing up on are actually well worth your time and effort to work on!