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Wednesday, June 27

Frugal House Hunting, Round 2

On Sunday I am returning to Clearwater, FL to look at houses.  When I went at the end of May I had a lot of mystery shops as well as some conference work lined up to pay for the trip there.  I haven't signed up for as many shops this time but I've still found ways to keep my travel costs low:

  • Sunday night I am mystery shopping a hotel in Atlanta.  Right now this is the only hotel I am shopping but there is one more site that could post hotel jobs for July.  It's not looking good though.  
  • I am being reimbursed for another two nights because I am doing a time share mystery shop in Orlando.  This shop reimburses mileage for 200 miles, two nights hotel plus it pays a fee, so it will be my most lucrative shop.  All I have to do is covertly record a meeting with a time share salesperson.
  • We're shopping at least 10 TGI Friday's.  These are alcohol compliance shops so the report is very simple:  the location either passes or fails and then I answer a few additional questions.  I have also signed up for a BBQ restaurant in St. Petersburg for one meal.
  • I am taking advantage of Choice Hotels "Two Stays Pays" promotion - twice.  For every two stays this summer you earn a $50 gift card.  Since there is no minimal stay requirement, I am flipping between two adjacent hotels every night for 4 nights.  Sure, it's slightly inconvenient to have to check out every day, but doing so earns me $100 in gift cards.  The hotels are less than $50 per night so if I consider the gift cards like cash I am really getting a rate of around $25 per night for each of four nights.
  • Unless I find more mystery shops, two of the nights I am redeeming Hilton Honors points.  These will be the two "splurge" nights as we are staying at a newer Hilton property.
  • I've signed up for 15 gas station shops (no pictures!) which will cover about half of our fuel costs.
In total we will be away for 10 nights and I will be paying for 5 of those nights.  My out of pocket expense for hotels will be less than $300 and I earn $100 in gift cards plus more points on the fifth night.  The majority of our meals will be mystery shops or free breakfast in the hotels.  

This sounds like a lot of work but it isn't.  The gas stations only take 10 minutes each, or basically 2 1/2 hours of work.  The time share presentation will last from 1-3 hours.


  1. When it's time to leave at the timeshare, just start asking about resale value and buying on the resale market at half the price. Normally, the salesman won't let you leave. But, when resale value comes up, he'll show you the door.

    Have a fun trip.

    1. They've given me some tips on how to get out of the meeting. That wasn't one of them. I was told to say I am starting a new job, moving, have no extra cash, don't like the product, or just came for the free gift. I happen to like that last excuse best!