How you decide "what's worth it" when choosing shops?

@Shop-et-al wrote:

Actually, the tone of it was tacit "should". I know from this because I am painfully acquainted with people who do not know when they are directing and commanding instead of stating or suggesting. Thank you.
You really need to get a hobby besides trying to follow me around.

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My daughter for years tells me to "drop" the lipliner, Mom it's so outdated, but I'm used to it, we go round and round and I know she's trying to get me to change to the times, which makes me smile. I love that she cares enough to give good feedback. Honesty and a different but good opinion is a good thing, and she does her makeup to a tee, so, telling someone something doesn't mean anything negative. I actually went to Sephora and bought a new lipstick which I'll wear on my trip.

Live consciously....
@Irene_L.A. wrote:

My daughter for years tells me to "drop" the lipliner, Mom it's so outdated, but I'm used to it, we go round and round and I know she's trying to get me to change to the times, which makes me smile. I love that she cares enough to give good feedback. Honesty and a different but good opinion is a good thing, and she does her makeup to a tee, so, telling someone something doesn't mean anything negative. I actually went to Sephora and bought a new lipstick which I'll wear on my trip.
Good to know. I never got into lipliner.
My daughter tells me which nail color is in and if I need to roll my jeans etc.
How I manage to go about my business on a daily basis without her advice is unknown. smiling smiley
Once again, it is the difference between spoken word and written word. When I tell you to your face that you 'should' wear orange more often, you can tell from my voice whether it is friendly, condescending or aggressive. When I text after seeing your mug shot that you should wear more orange it takes on a whole different set of possibilities.

I would not walk up to a stranger and say "That pink makes you look fat. You should wear navy blue," no matter how warm and fuzzy the sound of my voice might be. On a forum we are all strangers and our written words need to reflect a little common courtesy as well as the understanding even 'good intentions' can and often will be taken out of context.
Not knowing what anyone on the forum looks like or even their name makes it silly to give advice as to what they should wear, or even what jobs they should take. Seems we do get personal, maybe it's because we're on so much, we feel like friends. I do wish we could be more up front, using correct names and posting a pic.......but then there would be no mystery. Spoken word to someone's face and written words differ, and things lose in translation.

Live consciously....
This makes sense. I took out the photo part.

@Irene_L.A. wrote:

Not knowing what anyone on the forum looks like or even their name makes it silly to give advice as to what they should wear, or even what jobs they should take. Seems we do get personal, maybe it's because we're on so much, we feel like friends. Spoken word to someone's face and written words differ, and things lose in translation.
Lipliner is great for those of us who need it. It helps keep lipstick or lipcolor from "bleeding" color.

@SoCalMama wrote:

@Irene_L.A. wrote:

My daughter for years tells me to "drop" the lipliner, Mom it's so outdated, but I'm used to it, we go round and round and I know she's trying to get me to change to the times, which makes me smile. I love that she cares enough to give good feedback. Honesty and a different but good opinion is a good thing, and she does her makeup to a tee, so, telling someone something doesn't mean anything negative. I actually went to Sephora and bought a new lipstick which I'll wear on my trip.
Good to know. I never got into lipliner.
My daughter tells me which nail color is in and if I need to roll my jeans etc.
How I manage to go about my business on a daily basis without her advice is unknown. smiling smiley
@ceasesmith wrote:

Edited to add: Just thinking about those two days makes me tired.....
Makes ME tired just thinking about it, too, Cease!!
I don't do charity shops: no reimbursement only shops, no low fee shops, except for one small MSC and only because they are really nice guys.

I usually schedule shops in clusters. 10+ per day. I will also pick up stand-alone shops if the pay is quite good. There are several types of shops which I won't do for any amount: porn shops, church shops, and grocery stores. And there is one MSC I won't work for because the owner is not a nice person.

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 08/17/2019 03:57AM by Rousseau.
I work for cash...period. The more, the better.

It's a rare instance that I do a reimbursement only or coupon shop.

"There's so much trouble in this world; surrounded by miracles" - Citizen Cope
Amen x 2.

@HonnyBrown wrote:

I work for cash...period. The more, the better.

It's a rare instance that I do a reimbursement only or coupon shop.

I enjoy awkward questions and uncomfortable silences. This gas station pavement is $%^@*#& hot.
Over the years, my life has changed and so have my shopping habits. At one time, shopping was strictly a lifestyle enhancement. My husband and I enjoyed lots of fine dining shops, as well as luxury hotels. He passed away two years ago and my financial needs changed dramatically. Also, there are not a lot of sit-down restaurant shops for one person. Occasionally I will take a girlfriend, but in reality I am now writing a report and only benefiting from 1/2 the value as before. However it's a night out of the house. I do enough grocery shops that I rarely spend more than $25/month on groceries, some months, nothing at all (this month so far, all groceries have been reimbursed by shops, but tomorrow I will spend about $6 at a store I don't mystery shop because they have some amazing deals). Other than grocery store shops, I am now concentrating much more on fees than reimbursements. Put bluntly, I need the money. If I do enough bonused burger shops, at the end of the month I clear a couple hundred dollars. I also like telephone shops when there are enough of them ---- I don't like learning all the requirements for a shop that pays $3; but if I can get 10 of those $3 shops, all with the same requirements, then it makes sense. If anyone can offer info on how to get more fee shops, without breaking ICAs, I'd appreciate any suggestions!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/16/2019 05:00AM by EileenS.
How I decide shops depends on my needs. I've been doing this for 12 years (yikes!) since my now HS Junior was in Preschool. Initially I did theater standees and small things that I could complete during my brief time daily while she was in school, basically for some extra spending money since we were on one income. As she got further along in school I had larger blocks of time available but volunteered at school so I did a bunch of phone call and insurance quote stuff...didn't pay a lot each assignment but I could crank out a bunch at a time. I also did a lot of apartments but the monotony of the reports got to me so, while they paid more, they took longer and I really didn't enjoy them. As she's gotten older and been able to stay home by herself I could do longer days so I've sequed into banks and gas stations. Those cover my expenses (I find myself getting cranky if I have to buy gas or snacks!) and, since I do a ton, I can have a fairly lucrative day with a limited time requirement to do the reports. Plus, many of them can be done through an app so I don't forget pics and I'm done when I leave the site. The self-assign function means that I can more easily schedule my time around weather, her schedule, or general inertia. I also find I do a lot more waiting as her social, school, and extracurricular activities have picked up so I can usually find something to do that pays money within a reasonable distance of whatever bowling alley, school parking lot, or scout camp that I'm waiting at and/or driving to. Is it Girl Scout Cookie time - then sign me up for shipping shops so the troop maximizes their sales and I don't have to pay to send out-of-town orders (year 9, still making more than I spend when I net that year's costs against reimbursements and fees). The other criteria that I use are: do I want to try a particular restaurant (at least I get a distance if it's horrible and the report isn't too onerous), do I need to buy something anyway (i.e. bookstore shop when novels are needed for school) so I at least get something back for my time, do I need to eat (quick filler food shops that have very short reports), or am I researching a purchase so can I get my information and time paid for. Why I shop has evolved over time, but what it has allowed me to do is have enough extra to allow us to be OK on one income while allowing our daughter to be as involved in school, Girl Scouts, and her community as she wishes, gives me the flexibility to be able to drive 15 minutes and now 40 minutes one way so she can attend her preferred school (and I'm more likely to agree to take her somewhere if I don't have to kill time for 2 hours (the kiddo is reaching the age that she would prefer some space at times) and I can cover my gas costs), and also pay for extras for the family (the first few years after I left the corporate world were very tight, this has eased the stress a ton). Will I do this until we retire? Likely on a much more limited basis as College costs will require both hubby and I to be in the corporate world and my chauffeur hat will be hung up as that chapter of my life will come to an end, alas.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/16/2019 05:41AM by KarenMSW.
Through shopping I've found my Credit Union, Groomer / Doggie Day Care, daughter's latest cell phone, and was so impressed with the service at a specific jewelry store that I started going back on my own and ended up becoming friends with the manager (it's a good thing that the program ended before that because it was fun to do).
Eileen, ask for bonuses. Even fast food shops often have them.

If you shop for Marketforce, utilize the "make an offer" feature that's on shops they need done. Right now those are available on hardware stores and fast food shops. You might have to travel a little, so you might need to find some shops nearby to make it worth your while. Voila! You are now a route shopper!

$12 for the shipping shops doesn't sound like much -- but I'm really, really slow on reports, and even I can report one of those shops in 15 or 20 minutes. So $12 for a half-hour's work isn't bad, and I can fit other shops around them (surely there's a gas station that needs shopping on the way there, and a fast food shop, too! Maybe a credit card inquiry at a retail store or bank -- no out of pocket expense, there).

But I'll say it again, the best way to get bonuses is to develop a relationship with your schedulers. Sign up for more companies so you have more opportunities to shop, too.
You should at the very least be signed up with the 15 top companies on the list that this forum offers.

A lot depends on where you are. If you live in an area with lots of shoppers, you may have to travel some. If you're rural, you'll definitely have to travel some.

Some companies don't appreciate route shoppers; other companies just love us to death, and will go out of their way to help us schedule routes.
I've been a shopper for 20 years. How I choose shops changes depending on my needs.

Currently I mostly audit gas stations. I like doing these shops and after completing a couple thousand I would say that I'm pretty good as an auditor and fast. When there are not enough audits, this month for example, I will fill in with cell phone audits, bonused grocery stores, random cell phone shops, the odd phone call, and hell I even did the shop where the purpose is to look for mis-sized items.

I have a formula that I use loosely to choose shops. The pay should be equivalent or more than the number of minutes it takes me to conduct the shop. This formula is only for shops within a 10 mile radius. For example, if a cell phone shop pays $17, and it is within 10 miles, I may accept that shop because I am fairly certain that I will be in the shop for less than 17 minutes. However if the shop pays $8 I most likely would not take that job because it's doubtful that I would be out of that shop within 8 minutes. I generally accept shops that I know will be pretty fast. Some shops require 25 minutes inside the store and I'm not keen to complete those shops unless they pay $25.

I also expect to get paid $1/mile outside of 10 miles. So if the shop is 15 miles away I'm only taking the shop if I get a $5 bonus. If the shop is 100 miles away I ask for $100 bonus.

I also do route shopping almost exclusively. If I'm driving 15 miles away then I'm probably doing at least 4 shops minimally. My time is very valuable and I'm not going anywhere for under $50. Therefore I do routes. I would say that a large percentage of the shops I conduct are bonused.

I won't do shops for several companies for various reasons. One company pays about 5 months after the shop, no thanks!! Some companies have terrible guidelines that don't explain the requirement well, some companies give too little info when applying for the shop, some schedulers are rude, some companies expect a purchase but don't reimburse, some companies are non-responsive with questions, some companies expect long written reports...I think I could go on with the reasons why I won't shop for some companies. If a shop makes me uncomfortable then I won't do it. For example, I hate shops that scream "mystery shopper" so I avoid them (probably another reason why I prefer audits).

The last time I checked I was registered with over 300 companies. This allows me to be choosy about who I work with. For anyone interested in actually making money in this field, I recommend signing up with a lot of companies.

I don't know if any of this info is actually helpful to anyone, but I would say that if you do this long enough you will probably come up with your own rules/guidelines to follow.
in response to the comments about not being able to afford to shop: Perhaps the issue of lack of funds is one of paying in advance, and receiving the credit card bill before the shop payment is received. Some beginning of the month shops don't pay until the end of the following month, so the shopper is out the money for two months. That could be an issue in some cases.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/16/2019 07:21PM by option8.
Except for fine dining, I will not travel or drive to locations to perform jobs UNLESS I am going to be there. My DH and I both have monthly commuter Rail tickets that will cover the travel. Other fine dining shops need to be within a 30 miles car travel round trip. That being said, it's extremely difficult to schedule jobs at such short notice as my plans are usually spur of the moment. Lunch shops at work are usually available but I cannot get out most days. I scheduled one one day and could not get out and had to cancel. I thought I would be banned or punished but I am still able to schedule jobs from that MSC. I will do jobs close to home where I want the perk 20 miles round trip is not going to do it for me. More like 6 miles round trip. I am not interested in making money other than bonus'd bank shops that are downstairs from my office or close to home.

Sometimes on the way home from work, I will perform a chocolate shop nearby or pick up a take out shop. Most of the time, there's just one kid home and she will get it, LOL. Other times, I need to purchase food for the other two as well.
One caveat: if you are doing gas station shops, make sure that you have enough cash on hand to purchase a gift card for that brand. Despite repeated calls to let them know, my credit card companies shut off my cards after 2 uses. However, I can pick up a gift card and have no issues doing a bunch of shops per day (have to use the pump at each visit). Now, if your child's school, your non-profit, etc. uses the Scrip program, you can get gift cards through them and the "points" can either be a donation or can be used to offset some of your expenses (I am a Sweet Adeline and my Chorus uses the program to help members offset dues, competition expenses, etc) so some of my work expenses can be put toward those costs that I would be spending anyway.
There are plenty of shops out there that do not cost anything to do, like bank shops, apartment shops, some storage facility shops, cell phone shops, etc.

@option8 wrote:

in response to the comments about not being able to afford to shop: Perhaps the issue of lack of funds is one of paying in advance, and receiving the credit card bill before the shop payment is received. Some beginning of the month shops don't pay until the end of the following month, so the shopper is out the money for two months. That could be an issue in some cases.
@JASFLALMT wrote:

There are plenty of shops out there that do not cost anything to do, like bank shops, apartment shops, some storage facility shops, cell phone shops, etc.




True. I was merely suggesting a reason why costs could be prohibitive. Also, there is the off chance that the report may be rejected, and the shopper would be out the funds as well. Thank you for commenting JAS

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/17/2019 03:51AM by option8.
Is it worth it to do the [whatever] shop when doing so pushes the hubby aside and takes away one of his fave activities? Emphatically, no. Is it worth it to do the [whatever] shop if it leaves time for the hubby to do something that he likes? Emphatically, yes.

So many factors, so little bandwidth...

.. September is dressing herself in showy dahlias and splendid marigolds and starry zinnias. October, the extravagant sister, has ordered an immense amount of the most gorgeous forest tapestry for her grand reception. - Oliver Wendell Holmes
I like lip liner. I would not suggest using a fine pencil/point. Use a fat crayon lip color. It smudges in and looks much nicer while doing the same job. Some lipsticks will bleed nonetheless. "You've got Bette Davis lips......" instead of eyes.
The longer I live, the more I like cosmetics-free-- on me and on others. Think this lets me off the hook for all the cosmetics shops.

.. September is dressing herself in showy dahlias and splendid marigolds and starry zinnias. October, the extravagant sister, has ordered an immense amount of the most gorgeous forest tapestry for her grand reception. - Oliver Wendell Holmes
I do like tinted moisturizers with SPF, even on a "makeup free" day. It's important to take good care of your skin. I love the high end cosmetics shops, though I haven't done one in a very long time.
This past summer, I snagged many nice cosmetics shops. Some I sold off on eBay, and some I am still enjoying, like a Clarins tinted SPF 50. I don't recall ever seeing so many beauty related shops.
My shops first must be close, so running in and doing something works. Can't do Banks any longer because I've evaluated every bloody Banker in town and they move around, so getting the same one doesn't work. We have become a major restaurant town, so food is easy and my MSC's are nowhere the work of Coyle, and all have a bit of fee. I go by mood these days, if I'm bored, I'll take something, if not, say la vie.

Live consciously....
@KarenMSW wrote:

One caveat: if you are doing gas station shops, make sure that you have enough cash on hand to purchase a gift card for that brand. Despite repeated calls to let them know, my credit card companies shut off my cards after 2 uses./quote]

It's not the credit cards. It's the gas brand. The brand itself will shut you down after two uses. I can use the same credit card at Brand A twice, brand B twice, Brand C twice all in the same day and it won't shut down but if I try a third usage at any of those brands it won't work. And, for example, if you use the credit card twice at Chevron, it will not work at Texaco either after that because they are the same company.

sestrahelena
Although lifestyle shopping is not my thing, when you think about it, it really equates to money as well. There are several lifestyle Shoppers here who have posted about saving many thousands of dollars per year doing things that they wanted to do as shops that they got paid and reimbursed for. So that is still money!

sestrahelena
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