Making a Living by Mystery Shopping

Based on my personal experience I would think it is impossible to make a living by mystery shopping.  I struggle to make even minimum wage for the mystery shops I complete.  However, My Frugal Miser has been making $2000 to $3000 a month from mystery shopping so it is possible to do mystery shopping as a full-time job.  He has gotten mystery shopping down to a science.

Since my Census Bureau employment will officially be ending tomorrow I have decided to see how much money I can make from mystery shopping.   I do have online income coming in so I won’t need to make all of my money from mystery shopping.  If I could make $1000 a month from mystery shopping I would feel like I was doing pretty good.  Right now $1000 a month seems unlikely but for the next month I am going to take every mystery shopping job I can, as long as I feel the job will pay me at least minimum wage.  At the end of the month I will report my results and whether I feel that mystery shopping is a viable main income source for me.

*** There is a chance that I will start a medical study midway through June.  In that case I will report my results for the next two weeks.

11 thoughts on “Making a Living by Mystery Shopping”

  1. Well Andy if you continue to follow http://www.myfrugalmiser.com you can become an expert. As you know he really puts his heart and sole into it. Good luck with it! I’ve only looked into doing it and like you found it very hard to really make any money at it. However a little extra income never hurts.

  2. Andy, I really wish you’d do a full post on how you get the chance to enroll in these medical studies…it would be great info for your readers!

  3. Andy,
    I signed up with a mystery shopping company in 2008 after reading in The Wall Street Journal about a woman making six figures doing mystery shopping.

    My evaluation was the work was high effort and low paying. The pay seemed reasonable for doing the mystery shop. However, I estimated the training and post shopping paperwork would add 2-3 hours, making the pay very low. In addition, the items I would get to keep would be low value, in the $1-$5 range. Finally, the company could reject my mystery shop and refuse payment, if they determined I did not meet their minimum requirements.

    I decided to pass.

  4. Andy,

    An off topic comment:

    I assume from this post, you are not proceeding with being an attorney. Apologies for the inquiry, since you probably wrote about the answer in a previous post. Just curious, since I followed a lot of your posts during law school.

  5. Andy,
    Best of luck in your endeavor. Shoot me an email if you hit any bumps along the way and I’ll try to help if I can.

    Super Saver… as long as you follow the guidelines, you shouldn’t worry about rejected reports. You are correct about the low fees if you take into consideration the training and other costs (ink, paper, time to submit reports, etc.). These costs get leveraged though if you shop in volume. In one month I might do 40 shops for one retailer. Once I train and complete a couple shops, I become much more efficient with the next ones. I haven’t figured out how to make six figures just mystery shopping but I have been able to make it my full-time job. The longer you do it, the easier it gets.

  6. Cindy – I have already done a couple posts on medical studies. Search the archives and you should find them. Maybe I will write a new post as well.

  7. Super Saver – I still plan on becoming an attorney. It is too late for me to sit for the July bar but I plan to sit for the bar in February. If I don’t end up sitting for the February bar then I probably won’t become an attorney.

  8. Making money with mystery shops also depends on the shopper’s fee and reimbursement. If you’re doing retail stores, you’ll be lucky to make more than $10. If you’re doing fine dining, it’s possible you can get paid reimbursed for a $60 plus a shopper’s fee that could be $20-$30 or more.

    I do a casino shop that pays for 2x$40 meals AND often pays a shopper fee of $75 on top of it. Is it a hard shop? Yes. Does it pay off even with the training and report writing? Yes.

    I often only do larger shops because it’s worth it enough for me to do the shop. Occasionally there’s smaller shops I will do if the interaction and report is short, or if I like the store anyways/want something from there for a discount.

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