More profit, less expenses

Hey guys I need a little help here. Which shops would you say are the best for making profit without spending any money out of pocket or at least very little. Some months I do good, but a good amount of the time my reimbursements are more than my profit. I know its cause I do like 75% food shops but that's all I feel like I'm seeing lately that are worth it to me. I've definitely gotten better with this though by starting to do bank shops and small retail shops when they are available. But the thing I'm noticing with bank shops is they are a 1 and done type of thing. Open up a checking account, apply for a credit card, open up a savings account. You can only do that once you know.

I know apartments shops are another good place where the big profit is at but I'm still debating if I want to do those or not.

Do you guys have any other ideas? Right now the main shops I do with profit mainly are those loan inquiry shops online (which come in handy but don't come often, still a rotation on these as well) and I did the bank shops but now there's nothing else I'm seeing. I try to do phone call shops when I see them too but of course those don't pay much.

Any ideas would be great. Thanks!

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Maybe just look at it from another angle.

Say you get $200 in fees, and $500 in reimbursements for one month.

Is the $500 in reimbursements for things you would have spent your own money for, if you weren't on a shop? I.e., an oil change, gas, groceries, eating out, dry cleaning, car washes,
clothing, or amusements?

Number one: those reimbursements are not taxable income -- they are required business purchases, reimbursed. Therefore, you now have $500 to spend on OTHER things you need (or to save).

So as far as cash flow goes, the $500 is a big wad of cash in your pocket that you may now spend again.

I know, it's hard to look at them as "well, the money in fees is my business income, so I'm really not earning much" -- but actually you are PLUS $700 for the month.

Just sayin.

And if you're doing jobs you enjoy, I think you're doing just fine.

I find the "recreational vehicle" shops to be much, much easier than car shops. I think you would categorize them as retail shops, but you don't have to buy anything. The reports take less than one hour (remember, I'm painfully slow on reports; they probably take a "real shopper" 15 minutes or less, LOL!), you have no out of pocket, and you're usually on site 20 minutes or less. The only "haggling" I've ever had to do is asking, "And is this your best price?" while looking at the price sticker on the vehicle. These shops seem to start at about $25. I use them as filler on routes, because $25 is just my basic mininum I'll accept.

And yes, there's a rotation on opening those checking accounts -- but there are LOTS of companies that offer "inquiry only" banking shops where you are in the bank perhaps less than 10 minutes, and they seem to start around $15. I will do a route of them, if the MSC will up that to my minimum and I can pick up 3 or 4 different banks that are quite close to one another.

And there are bank shops where you inquire about a home mortgage, or current rates on CDs, or what accounts they offer for people with, say, half a million in CDs, that pay much, much better.

Good luck.
There are many other types of bank shops, where you may visit the bank to discuss investments, loans, buying a house, etc. For instance, BoA account holders have a ton of opportunities each month. Yes, the rotation may be 6-12 months for each type of BoA visit BUT when I am out of rotation for those, I am in rotation for Citibank shops, etc.

Try some valet parking shops. You may find that having your parking reimbursed provides the opportunity to find other shops within walking distance. Suddenly, that $14 bank teller inquiry that is 1 block from where you are being paid to park, makes good sense.

If you are getting reimbursements for groceries, oil changes, hair cuts, tire rotations, lunches/snack/coffee car washes, etc., that you would otherwise pay for, THAT is GREAT. BUT, if you are eating out with reimbursements more than you would usually do, try to limit those occasions so that you have the time available for shops with fees.

Learn to make profitable 1 day "routes" of paid shops. If you can do 3-4 $10 shops and report them in a short time, with little driving, consider those as part of learning to do day routes. As your routing skills develop, you will begin to add better paid shops to your routes. Remember: "walking" builds up muscles you will need to "run."

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.

OMG! I love how you put this! And you're 100% right! I just am trying to pay off some credit card debt so that's why I've been aiming for more profit than reimbursements. But you are totally right, I am saving money. I just have to make sure its stuff I would have bought anyways. Because the thing is, I use one credit card for mystery shopping. So if its just reimbursement and I got charged interest while it sat there then I ended up losing a bit of money. Well I guess its not a loss, its just now not a free meal, just a discounted meal. But I will still try to look at it for how you described it and be grateful for that! smiling smiley

And you see how you accept only a minimum of $25 per shop. This is why sometimes I feel like I am doing it wrong. Because most of my shops, the fees are usually between $10-15 plus reimbursement. No more than that sad smiley

I haven't seen much bank inquiry shops in my area for banks that I'm apart of already. I would have to open an account just to do those. It may be worth it I'm sure. Those seem easier than having to sit down with a banker and open up a whole account.

Thanks you gave me a whole lot to think about. I was just curious as to how others are making more profit than reimbursement smiling smiley

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/10/2019 01:34PM by Kristylynnr.

Yes yes yes! I love this. I'm actually VERY interested in doing valet shops, but I've never found any in my area. They are always like 45 minutes away by a beach or something lol. Unless I can find other shops in the area, I don't think I would go all the way over there for $14. But I'll definitely look out for shops around these areas from now on.

And you make a very good point with the reimbursements. Lunch shops near my job makes sense for me if I don't want to cook and would have bought something anyways. Or even oil change shops, grocery shopping, etc. But i'll do dinner shops for like $150 reimbursement plus a $10 or $15 fee and its like whoa I wouldn't have normally spent that much out to eat unless it was like a special occasion so why am I doing this?? Just for a small fee? Not worth it for sure. I will limit those. I'm gonna just start asking myself for those reimbursement shops with little to no fees if its money I would have spent anyways. If its not I'm not going to bother. Each scenario is different, I just gotta think smarter when picking out shops.

My route shops are usually limited to 2-3 shops. Sometimes I do good in profit... But I know I can be better. Taking home $40-50 a day in fees would be great. But I also don't want to NOT sign up for a shop just because I can't find a route to go with it. That's the part that frustrates me. If I find a shop that pays $15 plus reimbursement but can't find any other shops around it or available to do that day do I just not accept it?

On days I do shops, I really only do like 1-2 honestly. And sometimes the fees add up to only $25 and that's for TWO shops. UGH!
@OP: In addition to the other great advice here, please consider Merchandising and Demos.

The Demo jobs I have seen pay pretty well (at least $15/hour or so and with the possibility of pay increases) and provide at least one 4-6 hour shift in one place. During the stated time frame, you are to complete everything from entry, sign-in, set-up, large task, adjustments during the large task, clean-up, sign-out, and exit. Some projects involve multiple days of ninety, a hundred, or more dollars per day earned in one place. Anything you might need to purchase is paid for immediately or reimbursed. You might purchase $10 or so of product, for which you are given a payment card or are reimbursed. If the basic "uniform" of black pants, closed shoes, and white blouse or shirt is not in force, there probably is a provided logo shirt for you to wear. You might be called a brand ambassador, work with food, yak about electronics, or have other opportunities to earn money without spending a lot of it to get to your job. Depending upon you and the location, you might be able to complete additional assignments before and after your Demo shifts.

Some merchandising projects can be blended in with your routes. For example, just now I have projects that have designated maximum time on site. Well, yippee darned skippee because this known time frame makes it possible to add assignments in advance or on the fly. For these projects, all materials are shipped to the locations. I have one assignment that could span hours but (so far) has fit within ninety minutes. There might be a delay in a medical office while I wait for an available room in which to perform my little task. This has not disrupted work days because I only do personal errands or known short tasks for the rest of the day. Another project type takes about twenty minutes on site to check in, identify what/where, merchandise it, and even do the occasional simple inventory. There are substantially more merchandising job types than I have performed. You might find some that you like as one and done or to do on a regular basis. The more familiar you are with these jobs, the easier it will be for you to fit them in or schedule around them.

It was June, and the world smelled of roses. The sunshine was like powdered gold over the grassy hillside. - Maud Hart Lovelace, Betsy-Tacy and Tib
I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born. - Ronald Reagan

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 08/10/2019 01:48PM by Shop-et-al.
I tend to think of shops in two ways. One kind is one that I make a nice profit with and the other is one I'll do that makes me not much money or no money, but keeps me from spending money that I would spend while I'm out doing those shops. I don't generally do routes or a bunch of shops in one day with the exception of one day a week usually 2 to 3 times a month, I pick up as many shops as I can in Atlantic City (my nearest city). I usually leave early in the morning and pick up a $10 Starbucks or two, which are super easy and provide a nice coffee with $5 left over for a fee or I spend the whole fee and get something to eat. Then I do my profitable shops and usually a late lunch or early dinner shop with the same concept. $19 flat fee and depending on requirements, can usually make a few bucks and again the shop is crazy easy. I try to always pick up a shop that pays for parking/transit so I don't have to pay transportation costs. At the end of the day, I've made a nice profit, have been fed and coffeed and I don't have any out of pocket expenses even though I'm out the entire day.

Everyone has different goals, and we all have different circumstances. I don't drive, so route shopping is difficult, but sometimes I can take a bus to one place (like a mall or large shopping center) and do several shops within walking distance. You'll almost always see more of a profit if you're doing several shops together.

Another thing, I know you're trying to pay off credit card debt, so it's obviously not in your best interest to use a cc with a higher interest rate or one that has a high amount on it because your minimum will be higher. I opened up a Discover account that had one year of no interest and that helped me out big time when I first started seriously shopping because it gave me some leeway with companies that took longer to pay. They also have excellent rewards that I wouldn't have earned without shopping. Now I have enough coming in each month that I don't have to worry about that so much, unless it's a significant purchase.

Shopping the South Jersey Shore

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/10/2019 01:54PM by Jenny Cassada.
I have found some nice bonuses towards the end of the month on those warehouse club shops. There is a couple of those shops that don't require you to pay for a membership so no out of pocket. I see the blue big box stores now are like $20. I was going to try a couple. I haven't done them with the new MSC so I don't know how they are. When they were with the other MSC they weren't hard, just a little tedious.

Smart cookies. As far as the reimbursement only shops go, even if it's not for something you would have spent your own money on, you can still flip it and put cash in your pocket. Sign up with many MSC's. I shop the outlet stores and either gift, use, or eBay the items.
The amount of chasing you need to do for an apartment shop is not worth it to me. I have found that car shops pay the most. They also hit me as one and done since it would be weird to go back, especially if they knew you were a ahopper.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/11/2019 12:56AM by Niner.
Oh, eBay! Yes! When I had an active seller's account, I would go into every thrift shop close to the shops I was doing. I found a gravy boat (I believe the pattern was Schlessenger 152) for 50 cents, sold it within 5 hours of listing it for $105. I have bought Aloha shirts for 50 cents and a dollar, resold on eBay at $20-$40 ($40 is for silk). I bought an original Sears, Roebuck 1909 catalog (not a reprint) for $2 and got $105 for it, too -- and it also sold overnight. Other thrift stores finds were books, silk ties, candlesticks, lamps, and clocks -- all great profit makers. Heck, I'd buy old (really, really old) patterns (yes, for sewing) for 10 cents each and sell them in a bundle for $10. Most of those went to Los Angeles/Hollywood area -- I always assumed they went to costumers looking for authentic patterns for shows they were working on. There are patterns from the 20s and 30s and 40's with specific star's names on them that bring really great dollars.

I used to just Google to find thrift shops where ever my route was taking me!

smiling smiley

Selling on eBay meshes NICELY with US postal shops, LOL!!!! Makes a win-win-win!!!
OP, you mention you are working so a shop for lunch works. You mention you are trying to pay down expensive CC debt, so use grocery shops to get sandwich fixings to carry lunch the days you don't have lunch shops so you can get out and do a bank or cell phone or other quick shop on your lunch break. If you do dinner shops, maximize your reimbursement by getting an entrée that is big enough you have a doggie bag for the next night's dinner. Don't fear purchase and return shops near your work as you can get both parts done during your credit card cycle with no payment needed. And one of the really big, silent benefits of this is the oil change shops. If you change your oil every time you come into rotation, your car will last a long, long time. My 1999 Ford F150 I purchased new is still running like a top, though I did buy a new car last year (and kept the truck too) to have a more fuel efficient vehicle. The truck has had the ordinary expenses of tires and belts and transmission & radiator flushes over the years but never any major mechanical.

Reimbursements you can use are your friend as they are not taxable. Remember that in addition to income tax you pay a 15.3% self employment tax on net income above $400 (which as an employee you split with your employer as FICA, but as a self employed person you pay both parts).
I am a huge proponent of the reimbursement shops because of the no tax angle. And think outside the box...the other day I got a 150. 00 reimbursement shop for a clothing brand I haven’t worn in years. That amount though got me three items with no loss for me....three really nice gifts I don’t have to worry about now. I do building brick shops as often as I can for birthday and Christmas gifts for the kids in my life I shop for...I am very happy for the reimbursement. Of course I do the hair, oil change, car wash, those are obvious savings but look at the other offers as well since they might work for gifts, resell, etc.

And that even a small required purchase can be turned into a lunchbox treat for the kids, a stocking stuffer or an air freshener for that car you spend too much time in.
These are all really good tips guys thank you!

@Jenny Cassada It sounds like we shop in a very similar way. I've never seen a Starbucks shop though, you're so lucky!! Lol.. What you say makes a lot of sense regarding the credit card. I had a shop to open up a credit card and there's no interest for 15 months so I'll definitely be utilizing that!

Side note: I love USPS shops! I've been getting into them and doing a few a week. They are so easy to me.
The company that does the usps shops also has lots of retail in my area. Here in the big city 90% of the shops pay less than $12. There are lots of them but almost never bonused. So it all depends on where you live. The big pay shops tend to be out in the boonies. The boonies around here are much closer to other cities with shoppers so they would not need to pay me bigger bucks to get them filled.
One tip is to take a look at what day the cycle ends on your credit card where you start having to pay interest if not paid back. Hopefully the credit card you are using for shops does not have interest accruing due to a balance. Then see if most of the shops you do tend to be in the beginning of the month and ask the credit card company to adjust the end of the cycle on your card. If the cycle ends on the last day August, for instance, you will have all the way til the beginning of September somewhere to pay those early August shops off. Try to find companies that pay fairly quickly until you can get your debt down to where you are not paying interest from day one. If you look at the top of the page, first post in the Mystery Shop companies part of the forum it will list pay date information. Sign up with companies with a short turnaround on pay until you can get your debt under control.
I look for reimbursement companies that pay quickly so my money isn't tied up, for instance the Source gives you 14.00 worth of groceries and pays twice a month, doing three a weekend brings food into the house and pay is direct deposit the 5th and 20th of each month, so your not really spending your own and waiting for reimbursement. Oil changes work and recently I had a beautiful manicure and was paid the following month.
Retail is another with Albatross that pays well and no cash required from you.

Live consciously....

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/10/2019 11:39PM by Irene_L.A..
Any Shop that's close to you and requires no out of pocket expenses and minimal time reporting.

A Dad shopping the Ark-LA-Tex and beyond.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 08/12/2019 11:24PM by ShoppingDad.

Once the newer shopper figures out which tasks take more and less time for them and identify the shops for which they are qualified, they will have an easy time with this spot-on advice.

@ShoppingDad wrote:

Any Shop that's close you and requires no out of pocket expenses and minimal time reporting.

It was June, and the world smelled of roses. The sunshine was like powdered gold over the grassy hillside. - Maud Hart Lovelace, Betsy-Tacy and Tib
I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born. - Ronald Reagan

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/12/2019 12:58PM by Shop-et-al.
That's how I shop 100% and am loving it, no more freeways, time spent without pay, close and home, that's the bonus.

Live consciously....
Storage shed shops and cell phone shops are other shops that require no outlay from you. I do as many of both as I can.
Shop et al mentioned demo shops. Heads-up that demo shops for nutritional companies pay $20-$30 per hour, plus you get lots of free products. I do those regularly to supplement my MS income.
@Kristylynnr wrote:

Thanks you gave me a whole lot to think about. I was just curious as to how others are making more profit than reimbursement smiling smiley

Do you not have anyone close to you in real life who can help you? I learned how to manage money from my parents. Carrying a balance on a credit card is a terrible idea unless it is some sort of emergency.

If you are in a situation where you have to carry a balance, you should not be doing jobs that require an outlay of money. There are plenty of jobs that are observation only. (Cell phones, retail, banks, apartments, car dealerships etc).

Grocery stores and gas stations are fine if you stay at or under the maximum reimbursement every time. If you don't have $9 to pay for American Chinese Fast Food, you should not be financing that at 20% interest for a $4 fee.

Depending on where you live, you might or might not be able to make $3000 a month or more shopping. 95% or more shoppers never hit those sort of numbers.

If your goal is to pay off credit card debt, I suggest you get a "regular" job and use shopping as a side hustle to pay those off immediately. Is that a possibility?

Good luck.

ETA: Check this thread that you already started:


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/12/2019 04:10AM by SoCalMama.
I try to minimize the amount of time I wait for reimbursement of my CC this way. If I know a shop reimburses on the 20th day following the month performed, I try to shop late in the month. For instance, I will shy away from a restaurant on August 1st when I won't be reimbursed until September 20th. The same restaurant is more appealing if I wait until the end of the August. My apologies if you already do this.

I believe IPSOS has increased their payment schedule to our benefit. I do non-reimbursement shops for them.
What nice and helpful comments everyone has made. Since you carry credit card debt I agree with a previous poster that reimbursement shops probably aren't worth your time. I love the apartment shops. And any shop at a bank. My main comment though is be sure and take account the cost of operating a car if you drive to the shops.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued the 2019 standard mileage rates. Beginning on January 1, 2019, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car, van, pickup or panel truck will be: 58 cents per mile for business miles driven (up from 54.5 cents in 2018.) I rarely drive someplace to just do a shop. I stop for groceries, etc. Otherwise half of the shops wouldn't be worth it.
I rarely drive anywhere for just one shop unless I need to go to that area anyway. Remember, learning to do route begins with doing two shops on the same trip AND making it profitable. BUT, if I MUST do an errand all the way across the county, I will always try to find at least one shop there to make my travel worthwhile.

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.
@walesmaven So would you say its a waste of time to do shops that are in different areas? Today I have 5 shops. 2 are online, the other 3 are in different areas but one is near my job, the second is halfway to my house and the third is near my house. Is this okay or am I not utilizing my routes properly?
No problem going to different areas in the way that you describe. The three are well aligned with places that you need to be whether you had shops or not.

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.
You've got your credit card debt on an interest-free card, right? There are so many of them out there that there's no reason to pay interest. The longest I've seen is 21 months interest free at Citi.
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