Shopping Should Enhance Your Life, Not Replace It.

Mystery shopping is extremely time-consuming. So how does a mystery shopper handle the burden of housekeeping, laundry, auto maintenance, yard maintenance, and pet care in addition to their shopping?

It’s not easy. It helps to be sure your priorities are straight.

The biggest thing is to prioritize the use of one’s time. It doesn’t pay to spend a day to make $50 on mystery shopping if that means paying someone $75 to mow the lawn and weedwhack the garden because you don’t have time. You would have been better off to spend an hour mowing the lawn instead of tying up six or eight hours on the mystery shops.

Part of prioritizing is determining if something is necessary at all, or necessary in that moment. Some people obsess about housework. But unless you have allergies, is it really necessary to dust every week or even every month? So what if you have dust on the TV cabinet that hasn’t been disturbed in six months. It may be unsightly, but it really isn’t hurting anything to leave it there. If you have time to have company over, you probably have time to dust before they arrive. If you don’t have time to dust, you probably don’t have time to have company either.

One thing mystery shopping has given me is money to buy a robotic vacuum cleaner (We use the Neato; others like the Roomba). We used to have to pay people periodically to come clean the house because my back issues make pushing mops and vacuum cleaners problematic and my husband works six days a week and it wasn’t right to expect him to do it. Neatos can be had for $300 or less, the price of six housecleanings. It runs on a preset schedule. All I have to do is take 30 seconds to dump its dirt bin now and then and maybe pull out a cat toy from the brush. Running it every day keeps the cat hair under control.

While I’m writing this, I’m running the dishwasher, laundry, and the robot is cleaning the room where the (self-cleaning) litter box is. I’ll move him to the bedroom later, where he will even get the cat hair that is under the bed. He cleans the living room and hall every evening at 5:00 while we’re fixing dinner. Two video shops more than paid to buy him and he saves me time every week and I don’t have to scramble to vacuum if someone comes over.

Pay attention to what you have to pay per hour for any help you might need to hire (lawn care, housework, babysitting) and make sure you’re making more per hour than what you’re paying them. Otherwise you’d be money ahead to do it yourself and skip the shops that day.

Always remember, a penny saved is worth more than a penny earned, because you have to pay self employment taxes on the penny you earned.

Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by being so busy you have no time to cook. Spending $7 or $8 to eat out versus a dollar or two to eat at home can quickly make that $10 bank shop (that made you too late getting home to cook since you still have that report to input) not such a lucrative proposition.

Mystery shopping should provide income to enhance your life and help meet your budgetary goals; it should not create additional burdens due to all the time it consumes.

If you’re going to shop on a serious basis, make it worth your while and always pay attention to whether shopping is causing you to have to pay for things you would otherwise have done yourself.

So try to use shopping to save money on groceries, clothing, oil changes, and haircuts but don’t keep yourself so busy you’re spending half of what you make paying other people to do all the things you no longer have time for.

But if you have tasks you really hate doing, there’s nothing at all wrong with mystery shopping to make money to pay someone to do it for you (or buying robotic help). You’re just prioritizing that mystery shopping is more fun and gives you more satisfaction than dusting knickknacks and you’d rather be paid to shop so you can pay someone to do your chores. Just let it be a conscious decision, not something you fall into out of desperation because shopping gobbles up all your time and you’re desperate to get the chores done even if you have to pay for it.

You need to take a moment now and then to evaluate if mystery shopping is enhancing your life or taking up so much time you don’t even have one any more.

And don’t forget to smell the roses and admire a sunset now and then, have a day out with the kids and/or husband, take the dog to the park. There’s more to life than reports and role playing. When you’re scheduling that next route, schedule yourself a day off too.

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