Big Money!

Make $30,000 Mystery Shopping!

 

When I tell people that I am a mystery shopper, most of them can’t believe that I get paid to shop and review high-end restaurants.  This is not a scam, but there is more involved than just shopping and eating.  There are hundreds of great companies that hire mystery shoppers.  Currently, I work for over fifty companies.  I only do this part time and make about $500- $1000 a month, plus I get a ton of free food and merchandise!  However, I know many people who do this as a full time job and make over $30,000 a year.

Mysteryshopper I went to Wikipedia to find the correct definition of my favorite way to make cash: “Mystery shopping is a tool used by companies to measure quality of service, or to gather specific information about products and services. The mystery shopper’s specific identity and purpose is generally not known by the establishment being evaluated. Mystery shoppers perform specific tasks such as purchasing a product, asking questions, registering complaints or behaving in a certain way, and then provide detailed reports about their experiences.”  So basically you shop or eat out and get paid for the report you submit.

The following are things you need to know to be a mystery shopper:

1.  Apply for companies that are reputable

Start by applying for only one or two companies (see list below).  First, you go to the company’s website and apply.  Most companies will make you submit a writing sample as part of the application process.  As soon as you are hired, you log in to their website and select the jobs you want to do. The mystery shopping company will provide you with all of the instructions for the shop.  After you have completed the shop, you will enter your feedback into their website. At the beginning you will have to take very low paying jobs.  You need to get some experience before you will be able to work for the higher-paying companies with bigger commissions.  The higher paying shops are more difficult and reserved for those with experience.  Many people suggest visiting the MSPA’s website and getting at least a silver status certifation. This does cost money, but some people claim you will get better jobs faster.

I have shopped for all of these companies and I love them! All of these are free to join:

ACE Mystery Shop

Best Mark

Sinclair Customer

Metrics

Market Force

Intelli-shop

2.  You are reimbursed for your mystery shop

It is very important to know from the start that the mystery shopping companies make you pay up front for many of the shops you do and later reimburse you for your purchases. For example, if you shop a fast food restaurant, you pay for your food at the time you do the shop. Then, after submitting your report and receipt, you are reimbursed.  All of the companies vary, but it usually takes between 30 and 90 days to get your money back. Some companies send you checks or do direct deposits, but getting paid by PayPal seems to be the most common. It is also important to note that you must be able to pay for the gas/transportation needed in order to get to the shop. Just keep in mind that if you can’t spare this money, you may not want to mystery shop.

3.  The details matter

The companies’ instructions are very detailed and you have to do exactly what they require or A woman hand carrying a bunch of colorful shopping bagsyou will not be paid.  For example, the fast food restaurant instructions tell you specifically what you must order and give you a strict time window in which you must complete your shop. You must get names and descriptions of associates and timings must be accurate.  Many companies compare your report and timings with store video recordings.  I use my smart phone to record information as I do my shops. I also often sneak pictures of employees so I can remember exactly what they look like. One well-timed picture can capture everyone you are reviewing, but if you get caught taking the picture, you won’t get paid.

4. Some shops do not pay enough

Carefully read the instructions. .There are some mystery shops that do not pay enough. One shop I did required me to buy an item at the store and said how much I would be reimbursed. When I got to the shop I realized all merchandise was more expensive than what I would be reimbursed. I also received a payment for doing the shop, but was disappointed that some of that money had to go to the item I was required to purchase. Also sometimes the paperwork takes hours to complete and is just not worth your time.

5.  Your shops can be rejected and you will not be paid

Just because you perform a shop does not mean you are guaranteed payment. You must follow all the details (sometimes they are complicated) or you will not get paid.  I have never had a mystery shopping company not pay me, but I am very careful to follow all of the directions.  On one occasion, I almost did not get paid at a high end restaurant because I did not park in the right place.  I had to send an email to the mystery shopping company’s scheduler explaining that the parking area was closed at the time I was there. Also, I do know people who have made mistakes and were out the money for their food and time.

6.  Mystery shoppers are independent contractors

All of the mystery shopping companies make you submit a form which explains that you are an independent contractor.  The most important thing to remember about being an independent contractor is that you are responsible for your own income taxes.  If you earn over $600 for one company they will be send a 1099; however,  you need to keep track of  all your earnings from each company to report on your taxes. The good news is that you are self-employed so you can deduct some expenses.  Remember all of the mystery shopping companies have tax information on their website.

7.  Never pay money to a mystery shopping company

There are many scammers who are trying to take advantage of mystery shoppers.  I will say this again: NEVER pay money to join a mystery shopping company. NEVER pay money to a company to see their list of jobs. NEVER cash checks for a mystery shopping company.  A reputable mystery shopping company will NOT ask you for any kind of fee.  Almost all of the companies have information about scammers on their sites.

Mystery shopping is fun and the perks are great. In one month, I usually eat out 20 or more times  and am reimbursed for all my food plus make a little extra money. As a mystery shopper, I have stayed at beautiful hotels, gambled at casinos, saw movies, bought clothing, household items and Christmas gifts.  I make some extra money and enjoy all the free stuff!

It is easy to make money mystery shopping – go sign up today!

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Win Big Dough on a Game Show!

Office Workers Clapping at Office PartyDo you want to win big money and prizes?  Then I suggest you try out for a game show!! My aunt, cousin and best friend have all gone on game shows and won money and prizes.   If you need some cash this is a fun way to get it.  My aunt won over $10,000 on Lets Make a Deal, and my neighbor won a car on The Price is Right.  My cousin won a $500 gift card and a camera on a game show.

Many game shows have tryouts while some select the contestants from the audience.  The following are websites for contestant information:

● “Family Feud”

● “The Price Is Right

● “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire

● “Jeopardy

● “Wipeout

●”Wheel of Fortune

● “Let’s Make a Deal”

My aunt told me about her experience on Let’s Make a Deal and said that it tapes at Sunset Bronson Studios in Hollywood. First, you have to get tickets to attend a taping. Tickets can be ordered free of charge from On Camera Audiences. The show usually tapes on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Two episodes are recorded on each date, one at 10:00 in the morning and the other at 1:00 in the afternoon. Contestants are chosen from the audience members, so here are a few tips if you’d like to play Let’s Make a Deal:

  • Bring photo I.D. with you, and be prepared to fill out an application and release form.
  • You need an original costume – my aunt dressed up as a fire cracker.
  • Audience members and potential contestants must be 21 years of age or older.
  • According to the show’s website, your odds of being a contestant are 1 in 18.

Remember that game show casting agents are looking for fun, upbeat, and exciting people. Here are a few tips for getting on a game show:

 

  • Tell the producers an interesting reason why you want to be on the show, and what you would do with the money if you won it.
  • Most tryouts include some kind of written test, a practice game and a personal interview that will probably be videotaped.
  • You must have energy and the ability to play the game so know the rules.
  • Try to stand out from the crowd and show some interesting things about yourself.
  • Do not lie, exaggerate or make false claims on your application.

 

If you are interested in getting on a game show but do not live in the area of the show, you should look on their website because sometimes they have regional tryouts. Casting directors occasionally go on the road to draw contestants. For example, Family Feud will be in Chicago in September 2013.

Now is the time to “Come on Down” and “Make a Deal” to be the next game show contestant who wins big money!

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Stay in Bed and Be $15,000 Ahead!

Woman SleepingDo you dream of staying in bed and getting paid?  Here is the perfect job for you! The researchers at NASA are paying about $5,000 per month to participants of their exercise study. The study lasts from 97 to 105 days, and according to NASA’s website: “the study will also evaluate the effectiveness of a new exercise program to maintain muscle size and strength, bone health, and cardiovascular function during 70 days of bed rest. The exercise program is called the countermeasure and functional testing (CFT) study.”

The study takes place at NASA’s Flight Analogs Research Unit (FARU) at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas and most of the former participant’s claim they volunteered to do their part to help keep future astronauts healthy.   Exercising participants will spend 105 days and non-exercising subjects will spend 97 days at the research facility.  According to the NASA website the volunteer’s stay is broken down as follows:   Ambulatory Period “During the first 13 days for non-exercising subjects, or the first 21 days for exercising subjects, you will be free to move around inside the bed rest facility and do normal things. Bed Rest Period After the first 13 or 21 day period, you will spend 70 days lying in bed, with your body slightly tilted downward (head down, feet up). Recovery Period During the final 14 days of the study, you will again be free to move about within the facility. Because of deconditioning that takes place during bed rest, you will slowly begin normal everyday activity. You will participate in the reconditioning activities that are arranged for you during this time. During all phases of the study, you will take part in tests of your bone, muscle, heart and circulatory systems, and nervous systems, as well as your nutritional condition and your ability to fight off infections.”

Every volunteer must begin the study with a goal so that the time in bed is productive.  One participant learned sign language while another took an online college course.  The volunteers are given a TV, computer and video game console. The subjects are allowed visitors and spend time reading and talking with other participants.  The participants are feed normal meals and are put on a diet designed to keep them at their current weight.

The application is online, requires some basic medical information and can be completed in minutes.  You need to be a non-smoker, between the ages of 24 -55 and able to pass the Air Force Medical Evaluation. If you have any questions regarding the application process, you may leave your contact information by calling 1-866-JSC-TEST.  I applied and was not accepted, but this would be a great way to help the astronauts and make some Big Money!

 

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Buy Property Now

 

The real estate market has been crazy the last few years and people are losing their homes at an alarming rate, but the question still remains – Can you make money in real estate?  The answer is “yes” but there are things you need to know about buying property.

House and Keys in Female HandsI am a native San Diegan but was never able to afford property in California, so many years ago I moved to Iowa where I bought multiple properties.  Then a few years ago, I left my job in Iowa to buy and flip properties in California.  Warren Buffet’s quote always speaks volumes to me, “Be greedy when others are fearful and fearful when others are greedy.” So, if everyone is buying real estate and the prices are high it is not a good time to buy in that area because it is a sign that there is a bubble.

However, when everyone is leaving a market and prices are down then it is time to buy.  Home prices have dropped considerably, and mortgage rates are rock bottom. In many parts of the country it is actually less expensive to buy than to rent.  Now is the time to buy property!

My friends often ask me for financial advice on real estate investment, so here is a little wisdom that I pass on to them:

First you must buy something that you can afford. Make sure that your monthly mortgage payments are less than half your take home pay. It is written that a good rule of thumb is to buy a home that is two to three times your yearly salary; however, on the east or west coast it is more like three to four times your yearly salary. Do not be afraid to move if home ownership is your dream.  Currently, the job market in the mid-west is fairly strong while the housing costs are reasonable.

Look for a property in a good neighborhood that needs repair.  I like to buy the least expensive house in a good neighborhood and fix it up. You can fix a house, but you cannot fix a neighborhood!  I also tell people to invest in multi-family properties that are already making money or a property where they can live onsite in one of the units and rent out the others.

Find a good mortgage broker before you start looking at property.  There are loans for first time home buyers.  I always recommend a thirty year fixed loan.  It is best to put 20% down, but always make sure you have an emergency fund. If you do not have 20% down then you have to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI), which can add hundreds of dollars a month to your mortgage payment. You will need your emergency fund. I have not bought a house yet that did not have an expensive surprise waiting for me.  For example, the last house I bought needed a new septic system that cost $7,000.

Also, I do not buy properties with an association fee.  Sometimes the only way into the real estate market is to buy a condo, but be careful because the fees can rise for many reasons.  Also, there are many rules so read the fine print.  Some associations do not let you rent out your property.

There are many deals on properties all over the country, so now is the time to buy.  My lifelong friend in California could not afford a house in San Diego so last year he bought one in Texas and is renting it out.  He already made 10% on his money and plans to buy another house in Texas soon.  Remember now is a great time to make money on property!

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Flipping Cars

 

My son and many of his friends buy cars online, fix them up a little and sell them for a hefty profit.  Most people think of flippcar pictureing in terms of houses but flipping cars for profit is just buying and selling used cars. Almost anyone can buy and sell a used car and make money. It seems that there is a car dealership on almost every corner in this country doing just this.  Obviously the trick in making money flipping cars is to buy low and then sell high.  It does take a little startup money to begin this venture, but with a few thousand dollars invested, you can make some big money!

The best place to look for cars is on Craigslist.  My son only buys from private parties.  When shopping on Craigslist you can search certain cars and specific price points. In order to get a good deal on cars you need to know the average prices on vehicles.  A good way to check the going price of cars is to look on Kelly Blue Book.  This gives you an idea of what the price should be on a particular car so you will know what is a deal and what is not.

Before buying a car online, I suggest doing research about what cars resell well. According to Edmunds.com, the following cars and pickups comprise the top 10 selling used cars:

  1. Honda Accord
  2. Ford F-15
  3. Toyota Camry
  4. Chevrolet Silverado 1500
  5. Honda Civic
  6. Toyota Corolla
  7. Nissan Altima
  8. Chevrolet Impala
  9. Dodge Ram Pickup 1500
  10. BMW 3 Series

So after you have done your research on car prices and found a deal on Craigslist call the owner of the car and ask to see it.  My son looks at many cars before he buys one.  He also checks the ads regularly and calls immediately when he sees a deal.  The last time I went with him to buy a car, the seller already had thirty calls on the car.  Another buyer was already at the owner’s house when we arrived and tried to buy the car but did not have cash in hand.  My son offered the car owner cash so the man sold the car to my son.  What can you learn from this?  You must move quickly when there is a deal.   Do not talk about price over the phone as you must look at the car first. Try to find out why the person is selling the vehicle.  Unfortunately, the best deals on cars tend to happen due to someone’s unfortunate situation – the car owner lost his/her job, death in the family or they have to move quickly.  Have cash with you and if possible try and negotiate price.  Jump on a deal if you see it!

However, you want to make sure you know a deal from a lemon. When you arrive at the owner’s house to look at the car, use the following list from the Department of Motor Vehicles to check the car out:

Exterior

  • Windshield free of cracks
  • Body panel colors match
  • Magnet adheres to all steel body panels
  • Fresh paint job (if yes, it could be to conceal rust)
  • Seams where the trunk and hood close are properly aligned
  • Seams where doors and fenders meet are properly aligned
  • Free of body scratches
  • Free of body dents
  • Windshields wipers and blades fully functional
  • Headlights and directional lights intact and fully functional

Tires

  • Tires are a reputable brand name (Michelin, Bridgestone, Goodyear)
  • Tires are all of the same make
  • Tires are of free of any cuts, bubbles or cracks
  • Tread worn evenly (uneven wear indicates alignment and suspension problems)
  • Spare tire, jack and lug wrench on car and fully functional
  • Spare tire inflated

Engine

  • Free of fluid or oil leaks
  • Oil filler neck not coated with thick, black deposits
  • Battery terminals free of corrosion
  • Oil dip stick free of dark, black oil
  • Free of odors while engine is running
  • Exhaust pipe emissions are neither blue (indicates engine burns oil) or black (indicate excessive oil consumption)

Suspension

  • Vehicle rests levelly
  • When bouncing the vehicle’s corners, no creaking noises are made
  • All corners respond the same when bouncing

Interior

  • Seats unworn and free of cracks
  • All doors open and close freely
  • Trunk opens and closes freely
  • Lacks a heavy scent of air freshener (may indicate something is being concealed)
  • All gauges work
  • No dashboard warning lights remain illuminated
  • Stereo works
  • Heater works
  • Air conditioner works
  • Windshield wipers work
  • Windshield wiper fluid dispenses properly
  • All seats equipped with functional seat belts
  • All seats adjust properly
  • Power windows operate properly
  • Sunroof opens and closes properly (if applicable)
  • Car alarm works (if applicable)
  • Trunk and driver-side door lock and unlock with key
  • Hazard lights function properly
  • Headlights, including brights, work properly

Frame

  • Chassis is neither bent nor cracked
  • No signs of crumpling or straightening inside the trunk
  • Frame holes just inside outer edge clean and free of scratches

Automatic Transmission

  • Transmission fluid looks clean, not dirty or gritty (no indicates possible internal transmission problem) Transmission neither slips nor delays when driving
  • Manual or Standard Transmission
  • Each gear shifts smoothly No grinding noises when in reverse

Brakes

  • Vehicle steers straight and does not pull to one side when applying brakes
  • Parking brake engages and disengages freely
  • No grinding noises when applying brakes
  • Wheels do not lock when applying antilock brakes (if applicable)

Steering

  • Vehicle does not drift to one side without prodding
  • Vehicle is stable; no shaking or vibrating
  • No resistance in the steering wheel when turning
  • No clicking or clunking when turning

Miscellaneous

  • Car manual located in the glove compartment
  • Instructions included for any accessories
  • Service and repair records available owner has title.

If the car passes your test then offer a price that is fair and reasonable.  But, remember that sometimes the asking price may be really low and you need to grab the car before someone else does.  Get the title, a bill of sale and take the car home.

Use the following tips to turn your deal into some quick cash:

  1. Clean the car.  Make sure the car is shining from bumper to bumper. That means washing, waxing, detailing the tires and cleaning the inside.
  2. Take quality pictures to use in your Craigslist advertisements.
  3. Get the information you obtained earlier from Kelly’s Blue Book to price the car.  Do not price it too high but make sure you price it high enough to take a little off when the seller comes.  People always like to get a deal!
  4. Post your advertisement on Craigslist.
  5. Be available to take the calls and show the car.  If you do not call buyers back or show the car promptly you will lose buyers.
  6. Sell your car and take your cash to the bank.
  7. Start shopping for another car to flip and smile because you just made some quick cash!
  8. Make sure to look into the number of cars your state allows you to sell without a license.

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