Hi I'm new to this post I need some help tracking my income and expenses and managing my mileage and so forth can anybody help me so I can get a true bottom line of what I'm making. I use my iPad so if there's a great app for this let me know.
Welcome to the forums - sit back, grab a drink and start *Reading*! It's the best way for you to learn the ropes and get started!!
Try and spend as much free time as you can find READING the forums. Too many new shoppers come in, post 1 time, and then high-tail it out without joining in the group. There is so much valuable information you can find just by visiting (even lurking), and reading!
You are probably feeling somewhat overwhelmed, wondering where to begin. Here are some facts and tips:
1. Mystery Shopping is NOT "quick money" or a "way to make a living". (True, few people do, but they are gone on over-the-road video trips for several weeks at a time, and they BUILT their Reputation by starting at the beginning.)
--> (A) Mystery Shopping is work - hard work.
--> ( You are self-employed.
--> (C) You pay taxes on ALL of your income (YES, EVEN on that single $7.00 Shop Pay you got from one company you did work for once in the year!).
--> (D) You need to keep a spreadsheet and/or track of ALL of your expenses.
--> (E) You should have an office with a good computer, internet, printer, paper, ink, a good camera (if you decide to get into auditing), or a good cell phone with a camera.
2. You get paid (starting usually) $4.00 to $10.00 AFTER you complete a job, submit a survey free of errors, have your survey accepted, and hopefully had no deductions!
3. You get paid - 95% of the time - 45-60-90 days AFTER your survey is accepted. (There are a few companies that may pay in 30 days, just don't count on it, and it really helps to learn how to balance/budget your future earnings.)
--> (A) Most of the time, you will need to lay out money first. Example - that Fast Food shop? You need to pay in *CASH*. You'll get reimbursed - and also a "fee" - but that will come later (See #2 above)
4. You need proper Grammar, Spelling, Capitalization, and Punctuation. Yes, that should include our forums. We consider ourselves professionals, even on a forum.
5. READ - pull up a chair and Read. Tired of reading? Don't like to read? Well, you are not going to learn anything unless you start reading. Grab a soda, coffee, tea, whatever your preference and start going through all of the threads - at least threads on the first page of EACH forum. Forums are listed at the bottom of all of the pages.
--> (A) When you get to "New Mystery Shoppers" Forum: [www.mysteryshopforum.com] - there are "Sticky Threads" at the top of this forum. READ through ALL of the information that a long time shopper/member (Flash) wrote for new shoppers. Then, go back and read it again. Some people have been known to print out the information that Flash has written (not all of the follow up threads, just her first post).
6. Get yourself set up with a spreadsheet to keep track of your future jobs. Search here on the forum "spreadsheets" - and you should pull up ideas on how others set them up. You NEED to keep track of your expenses - you will need those for tax time!
7. Get yourself set up with a PayPal account.
--> (A) I would also suggest that you set up an Email ONLY to be used for Mystery Shopping - and use that email to connect with your Paypal account and the one you use signing up with MSC's.
8. I'd also recommend that you start a new checking account - Again, ONLY to be used for Mystery Shopping. At tax time - especially if you stay interested in shopping - you will be SO glad that you had separate accounts! Someone recommended it to me when I first started - and I am definitely glad that I did get one!
9. *ADDED 6-27-2012*: For information on what you can and cannot deduct for your Self-Employment Business - please make sure you DO read the following: