In the first edition of Side-Hustle Saturday, I will talk about an opportunity that several people I know use or have used in the past to make an additional $500 to $1000 per month. Although there are scams within the industry, many companies offer legitimate opportunities to earn additional cash with a little time and effort. You may have heard of “Mystery Shopping” and either thought it wasn’t a real thing or it was too much trouble to make it worth your time. However, with some companies, it is entirely possible to earn up to $45 for an hour of work.
You may be asking yourself “What exactly is Mystery Shopping?” Well, in simple terms, Mystery Shopping is when you pose as a regular consumer, you have an interaction and/or make a transaction with a selected target. This target can be anything from an apartment community, convenience store, to a restaurant, or cell phone store. On some shops, what they call the assignments in the industry, you may even target a particular employee at the business.
So basically after completing the “shop”, you will submit, usually electronically, a review of your experience. You may evaluate the target’s customer service skills, the cleanliness or attractiveness of the environment, and sometimes the company you are contracted with may even provide you with covert recording equipment so that you can submit an audio or video recording of your interactions.
The important thing to remember about Mystery Shopping is that the industry is rife with SCAMS. You should never PAY for shopping opportunities. MSPA is a professional organization that helps to regulate the industry in North America. In order to avoid scams and to protect yourself, check with this site to make sure the company you are considering signing with is a member. Also, you should expect to pay for whatever item you purchase on your shop but you are sometimes reimbursed or just buy something you need to purchase anyway.
One friend, who wishes to remain anonymous, only performs shops for apartment complexes in her local metropolitan area. She is usually paid $35-$45 per assignment. She tries to schedule them all on weekends since she works Monday through Friday. Each shop takes about an hour to complete and she does about 8 per weekend and usually squeezes 1 or 2 in during the week. She earns about $350 per week just going to view apartments on the weekends! She keeps tracks of her expenses, miles travelled, meals, equipment etc because this income is taxed at the end of the year and the companies she works for provide her with a 1099 every year.
Five of the companies that I have found that come highly recommended are:
- EPMS Ellis Property Management Services which focuses on apartment communities
- Harland Clarke focuses primarily on banks and other financial institutions
- International Service Check focuses on several industries including retail and automotive
- Market Force focusing on the retail industry
- Second to None focusing on the restaurant industry
So in conclusion, Mystery Shopping is a viable vehicle that can be used to make real money!! An extra $300 a week equals to over $15,000 per year that can be used to pay your student loans off, take vacations, invest in real estate or the stock market or save for retirement. I will come back frequently to edit these posts as I find new information, so the list above may continue to be updated. If you have any suggestions on side-hustles you think I should write about, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.