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Tuesday, October 6

Mystery Shop ‘Til You Drop ($400/month)

Mystery shopping is absolutely the easiest way I have found to improve my standard of living. Would you believe me if I told you my monthly food budget is under $100? Or that some months I may get all my fuel for free...and I drive more than 1,000 miles each month? In a typical month, I spend about $75 for groceries and dining out. More importantly, I ditched ramen noodles when I graduated college (Have you ever looked at the sodium content in a pack of those noodles!?!). I graduated to steak and lobster.

The mystery shopping companies (there are hundreds of them) are weird about folks who “reveal” their clients. I suppose they are justified: why hand out your client list to competitors? But without further ado, I don’t see any harm in telling you what companies I shop on a regular basis.

Fuel (for your car)
I purchase much of my gas at Exxon. Snap a couple pictures of the pump and the restroom, check to see whether the floors are clean, and head down the highway. Through another company I shop Chevron convenience stores, and occasionally some Chevron competitors, I assume for benchmarking purposes. I get so much free gas some weeks that I had to buy a few 5 gallon gas cans to store it all. Those come in handy during dry spells when all the shops have been taken for the month. Another company has a contract with the franchisee of two of the Exxon shops in town. So, I get to shop the same store twice, get paid twice, and get twice as much free stuff.

Fuel (for your body)
Most fast food joints are shopped. I regularly shop McDonald’s, Arby’s, Sonic, Cici's and Zaxby’s. Higher up on the totem pole (and harder to snag), I’ve eaten at Outback, Fleming’s, Ruby Tuesday, and other casual chains.

Fuel (for your finances)
Mystery shopping tends to conjure up images of little old blue-haired ladies wearing bifocals while furiously scribbling notes under their table at Outback. My friends think it’s outright goofy. My friends, however, don’t earn $1,000+ per month in their spare time. Usually each shop reimburses me for a purchase and pays me a small fee. Often toward the end of a month, bonuses are offered. My best weekend of all time: I earned over $800 in two days, plus a free hotel room for the night, 15 gallons of gas, several 2 Liter sodas, granola bars and other inexpensive snacks that satisfied the "in-store purchase" requirement.


  1. Wow, what company do you go through? I take it you pay no fees to join this company? Thanks!

  2. I too would be interested in a post about how to get a mystery shopping gig. Do tell! Maybe it's going to appear later on in a post coming soon. :-)

  3. I'm a shopper and this blog came up when I did a google search for "Fleming's Mystery Shops". If you could tell me which company handles those, it would be greatly appreciated. I can send you my email if need be to be discrete. Thank you.

    1. MrVisa,
      I haven't seen the Fleming's jobs in quite some time, so I'm not sure if they are still shopped.

      I do shop Capital Grille, Longhorn and the other Darden Brands. Last night I shopped Texas Roadhouse. I've also recently shopped Hilton, Hyatt, Louis Vuitton and Infiniti.

      Email me at and I'll give you some tips.