If you are a stay-at-home mom I’m sure you’ve been asked at some point, “So you don’t work?” or “So you JUST stay home?”
Something I have learned since getting married, buying a home, and having two children is that “JUST staying home” is one of the toughest jobs out there! You could call it “full-time” but I don’t know of another full-time job that is literally 24/7.
But yet every time we have another child, or get a bigger house, or take on another responsibility, somehow we make it work.
I love that challenge!
Maybe it is because I love lists and schedules. Or it could be because I think the best feeling in the world is when you lay your head on your pillow at night and know you made your day as full and productive as it could possibly be!
So despite the fact that I had a wonderful husband, beautiful home, 14 month old, AND a newborn…I decided to see if I could fit something else into my schedule!
My husband and I have some big financial goals and have been trying to find some other ways to bring in income so that we can arrive at our goals more quickly. Right before the baby was born I ran across some information on mystery shopping and decided to give it a shot after I recovered from the delivery.
Now, under two months later, working maybe 3-5 hours a week (all with my little ones in tow), I have made almost $400! YAY!!!
Most of you have probably heard of the concept but just to make sure, I’ll give you the basic idea of what mystery shopping is.
Let’s use Starbucks as an example (I have not done any Starbucks shops nor do I know if they use mystery shoppers; just picking a name for an example).
So Starbucks wants to make sure that their employees are treating customers with respect, getting orders correct, and keeping the place clean. They contact a mystery shopping company and give them a list of questions that they want answered about the quality of their business.
Then the mystery shopping company will post the Starbucks job with the list of guidelines so the shopper will know what they are expected to report on.
As soon as the job is posted individuals, such as myself, will sign up for it, visit the location, and then come home and report on what we saw.
Depending on the job, you either get paid, reimbursed, or both. I have gotten free groceries, meals, clothes, oil changes, and then paid almost $400 on top!
Pretty cool, huh?
First and foremost, I want to give credit to the amazing couple that first introduced me to the validity of mystery shopping (I previously thought it was all a bunch of scams). I highly suggest watching this video and all of the others on their channel. His and Her Money contains so much great money advice!
As their video suggests, I first went to this BBB approved site that checks to make sure all mystery shopping companies are legitimate. I wouldn’t suggest signing up for a company that isn’t listed on this site.
First, sign up for the free account and then go to the “Independent Contractors” page. There you will be able to click on “Search our opportunity board”. Now you will be on a page that asks you to narrow your search options; I ONLY fill out the area under “location” by saying I want to search within 25 miles of my zip code. If you fill out more then that you won’t get good results.
Once you hit “search” you will be on a page listing all the approved shops in your area. Each one will represent a different company that has been approved as legitimate.
Start signing up for these companies and checking their job boards for job opportunities!
Even in the limited amount of time I have been doing this, I have learned some lessons to pass along.
- Managing the companies – in order to always have enough jobs (I shoot for one per day) I have signed up for about eight companies. Once I sign up for one I put it under my computer’s “favorites” and every few days I check the job boards on each one of them and sign up for anything I can do.
- Managing the money – I have created a spreadsheet, making vertical columns listing: date, company, money owed, money paid. Every time I finish a job I enter the shop info and every time I get paid I mark it down so that I can make sure I’m getting paid for everything I do.
- Managing the schedule – I have created a “mystery shopping” email folder and make sure to save every email that has anything to do with it. As soon as you sign up for a job you will be sent a confirmation email. That email doesn’t get opened until I put it on my calendar and then doesn’t get moved into my “mystery shopping” folder until I finish the shop.
- Filling the gaps – Because we live in a small town and companies put out new jobs at the beginning of each month, sometimes I run out of jobs by the end of the month. That is when I found a company called Coyle Hospitality that mainly does shops for hotels and restaurants. A lot of their jobs are actually just making and cancelling reservations at hotels and reporting on the service you received over the phone. If I start to run out of locations in town, I will sign up for some phone shops on Coyle until all of the other sites post new jobs.
This all might seem a bit overwhelming but once you get in the swing of things, it is truly very simple and a lot of fun! I consider it such a blessing because our family has been able to get free stuff/services, make money, and I’m able to use all of the shops as fun outings with my kids!
If you have any questions or further advice I would LOVE to talk with you about it!