November and December have been the toughest months for me to earn a living through mystery shopping. I have done well this November but I've had to take shops I normally would not. This month I've already earned $1,600 but the rest of the month looks bleak. I've noticed that mystery shopping companies try to schedule everything before Thanksgiving, which means the last week of November is usually dead. Likewise, December shops are usually finished by the middle of the month. So far I have seen very little opportunity in December. I have signed up for an oil change and a discount grocery store - that's it. Maritz is the company that provides me the most work and I don't see anything coming up for December with them. Nothing.
It's not necessarily a bad thing that my calendar is getting lighter. I still haven't evicted my nightmare tenant so at least I will have more free time to focus on what needs to be done there. I am going on a 7 day cruise December 9th so that week was a wash, anyway.
I am coming to terms with the fact that I won't be mystery shopping for the rest of my life. Maybe on the side this is a great way to get a free meal or some extra cash every now and then. However, as a "profession" it is a tough business: even when I'm not out working, I'm checking dozens of job boards for shops, planning upcoming trips, studying job requirements, or keeping track of what I am owed. In the end it is a good deal of effort with minimal reward besides the flexibility of not having a 9 to 5 desk job.
I've been thinking a good bit lately about my future. Most immediately, my goals are focused around paying off the debts on my rental properties so that I own this lucrative income stream free and clear. After that I should have real flexibility - not just with my time, but with money in the bank to pursue new challenges.