Friday, November 14, 2008

Mystery Shopping and other Income Streams

Last night I went out Mystery Shopping. Or should I say, Mystery "Eating" since my job was to secret shop a restaurant. Mystery shopping is never going to be a huge income stream for me. Most shops pay $10 - $12, or like this one, just reimburse for dining. Still, this is the third one I have done this month and I really enjoy the work. Mystery shopping does take a bit of effort though - they have long, fairly extensive reports that need to be filled out. One company I work for lets you have 24 hours, but the other needs them done in 12. That pretty much means you have to turn around and head straight to your computer after shopping the store.

I noticed from my last couple of sets of instructions that they are really coming down hard on "fluffy" reports too - they don't want a bunch of generic comments. I can certainly understand that! Fortunately, as you all know, I enjoy writing so that is no problem for me - in fact, I find getting all the details "just right" rather fun! Is the money worth the work? Well, it is close. I would say it takes a good hour to do this correctly - figure half hour at the shop and at least another half hour or more writing up the report. That means the hourly wage is low, but on the other hand, I get to set my own schedule and fit these in either after work or on my lunch hour, so that makes it more worth while. I just wish I got to wear cool wigs like these ladies in the photos!

In other income stream news, I have been busily listing books on and Amazon. Last I checked I had over 300 items for sale on Amazon! I'm not quite done yet either. Can you believe it? Most of the items are from the huge book deal I made the garage sale, but others are from friends and family. The items include books, cds, dvds, and toys. I actually have a special place set up in my basement to handle all of it!

Sales have been a little quiet lately, but I did have one of my higher priced books go the other day, and truth be told, I would rather have one $14.00 sell then 10 $1.40 books. Not only is it a lot less work, but Amazon doesn't take quite as big of a chunk out of your sales. Again, holiday shopping will be happening soon so hopefully that will help with the sales.

Speaking of which, I kind of had a bad day today. Not a horrible one, but a few things happened that put me in the dumps - one of my sales went awry and I had a disagreement with someone I care about. In both cases I was able to solve things and put everything to rights, but it kind of spoiled my mood. So what did I do? I went shopping!

However, I did it smart. This is a far cry from my old "shop to cheer me up" habits of old and I have to say, I am really proud of myself on this. Instead of impulse shopping, I did a little pre-Christmas shopping and price comparison online. I spent a little time looking up certain gifts I have in mind for people and jotting down the prices as I found them on various websites. On one favorite discount outlet site I found a bunch of things I wanted for folks. Instead of putting them in my shopping cart, I bookmarked them, while at the same time jotting them down in my Christmas notebook. When I was done I looked the list over and found a few things that I didn't like as well on second thought, so I crossed those off. Then I added up the sum. I am going to still give it a couple of days to place my order, since I really want to be sure I'm happy with these items. In my less frugal days I would have just bought everything!

As I say, the other thing I did was do some heavy price comparisons. That was fun too - first figuring out what I want, then seeing how inexpensive I can find it online. I gave me all the pleasure of shopping - without spending one thin dime. Once again, I bookmarked all the sites and wrote what I needed down in my notebook, so next week (assuming I am not so emotionally fragile) I see if I still like my selections, and if so, purchase them then.

Basically what I was doing is the equivalent of the age old window shopping, except I always found window shopping really frustrating. If I am shopping, I want to buy something you know?!? This was different though - I wasn't walking around admiring beautiful clothing I can't afford to buy, I was researching purchases I actually plan on making. There is a big difference there. Instead of making myself feel deprived, I treated it more like a game: "Find the Best Deal." Also, it was important that I recognized that I was potentially in a place to do impulse shopping. I have fallen victim to emotional shopping before, but my more frugal self recognized the signs and found a way to indulge without hurting my pocketbook. I like that.

Photo by: Robbi Baba


passivefamilyincome said...

Dawn - I probably missed a post, but are you buying items at garage sales and then selling them on eBay or Amazon? I thought about doing something like that.

In regards to mystery shopping, I think you found a nice free way to dine out. Even though you may have to spend time filling out the report, it is a way to eat out and not spend any money.

Dawn said...

Hi PFI! Back in October I stopped at a garage sale that had boxes (and boxes) of books for sale for 3/$1. I talked to the owner and bought the whole lot for $25. I am talking about hundreds of books here - but a lot of them are in rough shape and some are missing dust jackets, etc. I've had to do a lot of sorting wheat from chaff. So, I ought a bunch that I won't be able to sell, for some that look like real winners. I don't know if I would do it again, probably. We'll see how many have them have sold by the time garage sale season hits again!

louise said...

I really like you blog about selling the books, it is great watching you take such a methodical approach to ebay, I tend to do it stops and starts1