Now that I have relocated, many people have asked if I still plan to side hustle and mystery shop. Without hesitation, the answer is yes! The great thing about mystery shopping is it can be done from anywhere.

I have been mystery shopping for years. I first learned about mystery shopping when I was in college and have been fascinated ever since.

There are dozens of different companies out there that will pay you to visit a restaurant, retail store or do something entertaining, like go bowling or to the movies.

I have only lived in Nashville for about a month, but I have already been side hustling to make more money.

One of the easiest ways to side hustle is by mystery shopping. You can mystery shop from anywhere, here's how!

Here are the mystery shops I have completed this past month

Ordered pizza for delivery

This is always such a fun and easy shop, especially when I don't have to leave my home. I simply had to call in my order, remember information from our conversation and write it down. When my order was delivered, I had to take some mental notes about my experience with the driver as well. Finally, I snapped two photos of the pizza and that was it!

Not only will my pizza and tip be reimbursed, I also will receive a $10 bonus for completing the shop.

Completed four surveys on my cell phone while grocery shopping

These are always my favorite shops to do. While at the grocery store, I will be asked to take a few pictures of an aisle or a product, like potato chips or beer. Then I'll be asked a few questions in multiple choice format. These types of surveys take about 5-10 minutes of my time.

Unlike traditional mystery shops, these surveys pay in smaller increments because they are so short. Each survey I completed paid $5 and I was paid within 48 hours to my PayPal account.

Grabbed coffee

Friends, we all know I have mad love for coffee. There is a 99% chance I will grab an iced latte (even in the winter) so what better than to have it be on someone else's tab? For this mystery shop I was able to select the coffee of my choice and just had to ask one question to the person taking my order. Simple!

Not only will I be reimbursed for my coffee but I'll also receive a $5 bonus. That's like getting another coffee for free 🙂

Grabbed BBQ with curbside pickup

Talk about a guilty pleasure! This local restaurant in my neck of the woods was searching for mystery shoppers to dine at lunch, dinner and perform a curbside pickup. I snapped up a curbside pickup shift and it was a breeze. There was much less work involved than dining in the restaurant, so this was a no brainer. I just had to document my phone call when placing the order and take notes about the employee who brought out my meal.

What made this mystery shop even better was it paid for two meals, so my friend and I got to eat for free. This mystery shop will reimburse me for the bill and tip, as well as give me a $10 bonus for completing the shop.

Made a purchase at a big box home decor store

This is one of my tougher shops that I normally don't do, but I accepted because I knew I would end up making a purchase here at some point. After walking the floor and interacting with a couple of employees, I was able to select an item of my choice and have it reimbursed up to $13. Since my Soda Stream carbon cartridge ran out, I was able to swap it out for a new one.

Because this is around the same price as my reimbursement, this item will be essentially free once I am reimbursed. The best part is I'll  also be paid $15 shop fee on top of my reimbursement.

Mystery shopping tips

There are so many aspects when it comes to mystery shopping. I could write about this all day, but here are a few of my favorites:

  • One of the my favorite aspects of mystery shopping is how I fit it into my schedule. I typically do not go out of my way to complete a mystery shop as I don't have the time. Instead, I personally try to select mystery shops that work with my schedule and that are close to my home. If it's more than a few miles out my comfort zone, there is a good chance I won't accept a shop.
  • If you are comfortable with using a credit card (and won't go into debt), use a credit card to pay for all your mystery shopping. The majority of mystery shops do not pay out until the middle of the following month. I prefer to charge my shops so I don't feel as if I am losing money. Once I am reimbursed, the money goes straight to my credit card and I pocket the difference.
  • Make sure you have a PayPal account. Nearly every company requires this for payment. Some companies will process a live check, but this always takes longer to receive in the mail and you will be charged a small processing fee.
  • Keep a planner or spreadsheet that lists the day you completed your mystery shop. It is very rare for a mystery shop company to not pay you, but it's smart to remember when you should expect payment.
  • Open a separate email account that is solely for mystery shopping. I receive anywhere between 20-30 emails a day on various mystery shops available in my area. I like to keep this separate from my personal email account so my inbox is not inundated.

I am excited to announce I will be releasing an in-depth guide in January about mystery shopping. There is so much to cover and this will cover mystery shopping, survey and panel studies. I will be sharing direct links to my favorite companies so you don't have to do all the research that I did over the years.

In 2014, I made over $4500 from various side hustles, so if you are serious about side hustling this guide will teach you exactly how to make more money. Get excited!

URG Learn More


BONUS: Made cash back shopping

If you aren't using Ebates, you are missing out! I've made around $700 so far from shopping online for normal things I would buy anyways. Basically you earn a percentage back on all your purchases, and that money gets deposited into your PayPal account. Yippee, free money!

Ibotta is another free cell phone app. You use it after you go grocery shopping and use your receipt. It's basically a rebate app, so you can earn anywhere from 50 cents to $5 off everything you buy.

My favorite part about this app is that it's not always brand specific, like a lot of coupons are. So you'll be able to scan “any brand of bread” for 50 cents off, etc. If you do coupon – you can STILL use Ibotta and get a rebate. For the diehard couponers out there, this will often result in getting an item for FREE. Crazy, right?

If you want to grab the Ibotta app and start making money off your grocery receipts, click here to get started. You will receive a cash bonus of $10 when you scan your first item!


Ebates is my absolute favorite company to use when I’m shopping online. Hello, it’s free money!

Every time I shop online, I always start at Ebates. They have a list of all the places you normally shop at and you just click on the store you want to visit online.

After you make a purchase, you earn a percentage of the sale! They literally give you cash back on every purchase you make. The cash back ranges from 1% to 14%. The money is then deposited into your PayPal account.

I’ve made over $700 from shopping online and earning cash back. Join Ebates here!


 This cell phone app helps you make money off your grocery receipts. Yup, for real! You use it after you go grocery shopping and use your receipt. It’s basically a rebate app, so you can earn anywhere from 50 cents to $5 off everything you buy.

My favorite part about Ibotta is that it’s not always brand specific, like a lot of coupons are. So you’ll be able to scan “any brand of bread” for 50 cents off, etc. If you do coupon – you can STILL use Ibotta and get a rebate.

For the diehard couponers out there, this will often result in getting an item for FREE. When you sign up, you will receive a $10 cash bonus when you make your first scan. Join Ibotta here!

Take surveys

I have made thousands of dollars over the past few years from taking surveys online!

There are a handful of companies that I love to use and earn cash back into my PayPal account, as well as reward points that I can use at places like Target, Walmart and Macy's.

Here is a list of the best survey companies to make money.

Start a blog

I went from making $40/month to over $4,000/month in the span of six months. That’s crazy! Here is a tutorial that walks you through how to start a blog.

Blogging has totally changed my life. I even share my online income reports so other people can see how I got started and how I am growing.

Become an Uber or Lyft driver

 Work your own schedule and make mad cash! I know plenty of drivers that work all kinds of different time shifts, whether it's working during rush hour, happy hour or in the evenings. Uber even offers bonuses and extra incentives all the time.

To learn how to become a driver, click here.

Start saving, even if it’s only a few dollars a week

Whether you want to start an emergency fund or a vacation fund, you have to start setting some money aside. If you’re like most people and struggle with saving, you should consider using Digit or Qapital.

Qapital is a totally free app that let's you decide how much money you want to save every time you make a purchase. You can pick from $1 all the way up to $5.

So let's say I spend $24.05 at the grocery store. Qapital will then transfer $1 to my savings account.

You can link as many debit cards or credit cards as you want to Qapital. So even if you use a credit card to make a purchase, you can pick one bank account to transfer the $1 to your Qapital saving account. Click here to learn more about Qapital.

Digit lets you save money each week from your checking account. What I really like about Digit is that it analyzes my bank account and determines how much I can really save per week.

Some weeks it might be $5 and other times it might be $20. You don’t have to worry about overdraft and can contribute less or more if you need to. You can learn more about Digit here.

The only downside to Digit is they charge $2.99 per month to use their service. I don’t mind the fee though since it’s helping me save money every week. If the fee stressed you out, use Qapital!

Rent out your space on AirBnB

Over the past couple of years, I have stayed at a handful of AirBnB's and saved a ton of money. I've been able to rent an entire house, condo and apartment instead of a room at a hotel. Have you ever thought about renting out your home for a weekend?

You can learn more about how to use AirBnB hereUsing the link, you will also get a coupon for $40 off your first stay anywhere!


How do you feel about mystery shopping?


Kristin, is the creator behind Believe In A Budget. She teaches others how to start a blog and how to side hustle. Her course, Pinterest Presence, helps bloggers + businesses drive traffic to increase their website's profitability. Click here to learn more