New thing I tried: Mystery shopping.

One thing I’ve learned in my life is to never say you’ll never do something.

Especially about parenting before you become a mom.

Eventually I will write an entire post about parenting things I said I wouldn’t do that I totally did. (“Oh I would never buy all organic foods!” – Needless to say our entire household eats mostly organic fruits and veggies now.)

But that is all for a later post. This post is about another thing that I really never thought I’d do: Mystery shopping.

Earn money by mystery shopping!

Honestly, I thought mystery shopping consisted of going into a grocery store and comparing prices of cereal in like eight different places. Did I dream up this scenario? Is this what some mystery shoppers do? I have no idea. All I know is that when Brittany told me she did mystery shopping and enjoyed it, plus made some extra cash doing it, I was intrigued and signed up for a company that offers some shops in Chicago.

I was very pleased when I found a few shops near me that I could do reviews on. These were shops I’d go to anyway, so I signed up. All I had to do was visit the store, ask a few (specified) questions so an associate, and answer a long review about my experience on the mystery shopping site.

But stores aren’t my favorite places to mystery shop – my favorite mystery shopping experiences are at restaurants. Tim and I have gone on two date nights over the last two weeks for free at trendy places in Chicago. These places each reimbursed us up to $220 for our meal/drinks and also paid us about $20 (each) on top of that.

All I had to do was enjoy a night out with my main squeeze and accurately review my experience! 

We also went to a brunch and a casual dinner and (of course) got paid to do so!

Now this is not a sponsored post and I don’t get any referral bonus for telling you about mystery shopping. Really, I just want to spread the news because I wish someone had told me about this earlier! Living in Chicago makes it a bit easier for me to mystery shop because there are a lot of opportunities here. So if you’re in a big city, I think it would definitely be worth checking out –  I’m constantly being offered opportunities at bars and restaurants I can’t even take advantage of due to scheduling constraints. I’m sure there are also a lot of opportunities in the suburbs of major cities, but I can’t speak for smaller towns.

A little advice:

  • Don’t pay to be part of a mystery shopping company – no reputable company will make you pay anything.
  • Only accept jobs that are convenient or offer a service you need done or product (like a meal!) you want.
  • Make sure the reimbursement a store or restaurant is offering is going to be enough to cover expenses. Tim and I went to one casual restaurant I knew I wasn’t going to like and the reimbursement only covered half the meal. So we basically had to pay to do the mystery shopping at a place we wouldn’t have necessarily chosen to go. It was still fun but I wouldn’t do it again.
  • Don’t expect to make a ton of money. Basically, I love mystery shopping because of free meals at expensive restaurants, and anything else I get is nice, too. After about a month of mystery shopping I’ve had six assignments, for which I was paid $97 in addition to being reimbursed for $433 worth of meals. Clearly the value is in the free date nights, for me!

I hope you give mystery shopping a try! Happy shopping and let me know if you love it (or hate it)!

Have you done mystery shopping before?! Would you try it?!

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