It’s the New Year. Time to turn over a new leaf, get rid of the bad habits and improve yourself for 2014. OK, who am I kidding? Realistically we can all find areas to improve. I contacted some shoppers on www.mysteryshopforum.com and asked them, on the condition of anonymity, to share some of their mystery shopper related resolutions for 2014. Below you’ll 4 shopper questions and answers, each will help shopper’s succeed with a different resolution in the new year.
- I need to keep better track of my deductible expenses.The answer: I understand what you’re going through. I kept up with my expenses for the first three or four months of 2013, then I began to let them slip. My only saving grace is that my mileage for 2013 will just about totally offset my earnings for the year, so the travel expenses I’ve incurred will mostly contribute to a loss carried forward. It’s another reason why I use the IRS mileage deduction [56 ½ cents per mile in 2013], so I don’t have to keep track of gas, oil changes, tires, maintenance, etc. This is one of my resolutions also and I’m working on a spreadsheet that will hopefully make it easy.
- I’m looking for a better way to track my shops instead of in a date book.The answer: Flash has long shared this spreadsheet with shoppers on the forum: http://www.mysteryshopforum.com/read/10/282597. Being a more visual person, I modified it somewhat and have color coding to show the status of the shops. I do keep a bare bones copy of my spreadsheet in a Daytimer. This way if I’m asked about picking up a shop where I can’t access my laptop, I can look and see if I can add it to my schedule. It also helps with booking photo shoots because I can see what my shop schedule is like and can adjust things as needed. Keeping both the Daytimer and the spreadsheet updated takes maybe 10-15 minutes a day.
- I’m wondering about whether or not to do my own taxes this year?The answer: Okay, that’s getting a bit specific. Since I’ve started shopping, I have a CPA do my taxes. It’s simply because I prefer having someone whose business is taxes doing my taxes, as well as having a second set of eyes looking at my business, as well as my business plan for the next year to help guide, or suggest to me, areas where I may need to look at making changes…see the first question for a prime example. In the interest of full disclosure, I also have book and picture royalties to consider, as well as income from my photography business, so for me an accountant seems to make the most sense. It all boils down to how comfortable you are doing your own taxes.
- This was my first year of shopping and, while I’m pleased with the money I’ve made, it’s not as much as I was hoping to earn.The answer: How many companies are you signed up with? Right now I’m signed up with 196. Granted, the majority of them don’t have shops in my area, but you never know when your favorite shop will go to a new MSC. Also, and this is something that I will accomplish by January 10th, I will revisit every company I’m registered with and update my profile. I switched to a smart phone this year, so that’s an update that’s needed. Also, by clicking “Update My Profile” even if there aren’t any changes, it lets the computer at the MSC know you’re alive and well, and interested in what shops they may have in your area.
I hope this bit of Q&A has helped you. Best wishes for a Happy and Successful 2014.