How To Get Free Food, Clothes & Money
University is a real struggle in terms of money, and if I'm honest I'm a real stingy person so I'm always searching for ways to make extra money whilst at Uni. I don't have a job during term time because I worry that it would take time out of my studies, so I only go to work in the holidays - I have a whole blog post about my budgeting tips for uni and money issues so definitely give it a read! So since I rely on the money I have saved up from my work during the previous holidays in term time, I sometimes need extra sources of money just to keep me going and to feel more secure. I wrote a post previously about ways to earn money whilst at Uniso give that post a read for ideas on how to earn easy money. However, this post will be all about mystery shopping!
I was introduced to mystery shopping via studentmoneysaver.co.uk and through a blogpost in particular about how to become a mystery shopper, so give it a read if you'd like to understand the whole mystery shopping process a bit better and the different platforms you can do it on.
As a mystery shopper you basically report on a store or restaurant's service, kind of like a spy, and you get reimbursed for the amount you spend on a product or food, and you also get paid for doing the mystery shopping assignment. For example, Pret A Manger may give a mystery shopping company an assignment, that the mystery shopping company then gives to their shoppers to go and complete.
From the Student Money Saver blog post, they listed a bunch of mystery shopping companies and I pretty much applied to all of them. However, the only company that consistently has assignments available and is easy to use is Market Force- I deleted my accounts on the other ones that I applied to. Market Force is great because you register, create your profile and then you can start applying for assignments almost straight away. You also submit your bank details, so any money for reimbursement or fee's for doing the assignment will get paid to you either around the 10th or 25th of that month.
You enter your location and then you can see what assignments are available around your area - they also have an app which is amazing, so you can apply for assignments on there too. Each assignment will show you the assignment criteria (so what you have to do, what you may have to ask staff members, what you'll have to purchase), the specific time period and dates you have to complete it on, the amount of money they'll reimburse you for the purchases you'll make and the amount of money they'll pay you for actually doing the assignment (the fee).
Majority of assignments will give you money to completely reimburse your purchases, so you'll be getting the product/food for free AND make money on top of it. When I've applied for an assignment, I make a note on my phone of all the things I need to report on so e.g. the time I entered and left, what the staff member that served me looked like, what the staff were doing, what they said to me etc. Each assignment will have different criteria that you need to report on! Obviously you need to be subtle and seem like a genuine customer while doing the assignment, so I normally make notes on my phone really secretly. When you've then completed the assignment, you then go online and fill in your report and upload a picture of your receipt and a picture of the location you visited.
HERE ARE SOME SCREENSHOTS FROM MY PHONE TO DEMONSTRATE -
So this above shows all the available jobs around where I live in Leamington. You can then click on an assignment and see what is required for you to do, the reimbursement amount, the fee amount, the date and time etc. From there, you can then apply if you want to - you just answer 10 simple questions to make sure you understand what the assignment requires and then you've secured the assignment.
This above is a list of my active assignments, so they're assignments that I'm set to do in the future. It shows you the location, the date, the orange price is the fee that they pay you for completing the assignment and the green amount is the reimbursement amount for your purchases.
This above is an example of the sort of notes I'll have ready on my phone prior to doing the assignment - I read the assignment criteria and preview the report questionnaire that I'll have to fill in once I've completed the assignment, so I write on my phone everything I'll need to report on later. I write the answers to these things on my phone in a subtle way during the assignment because you can't make it obvious that you're a mystery shopper!
It may seem confusing and if you can't be bothered to submit reports then it may not be for you, but each report only takes me approximately 5 minutes and majority of the questions are yes/no ones, so I don't actually type much for any of the questions - I normally end up typing like 100 words max for each report.
I definitely think it's worth signing up for because you can get amazing things out of it. I normally do assignments that are convenient for me, so I'll apply for lunchtime ones when I know I'm going to work a certain day and that way I can get a free lunch. I never really go out of my way to do an assignment. Also, when you do loads of assignments in a short period of time then the money you receive as fee's (so for you to keep) really adds up. Like this month I did LOADS of assignments and I'm getting £60 as reimbursement money (so it'll cover all the purchases I made) and I'm getting £30 as fee money, so that's money I earned.
Some of the best assignments I've done are -
1. Arsenal Football Club - you're required to purchase 2 tickets for a legends stadium tour which they reimburse you £80 for (each ticket is £40) and they pay you £10 for doing the assignment (BEST ONE I'VE EVER DONE).
2. Cafe Rouge - you're required to purchase a main meal, drink and dessert and they reimburse you £20 (and I normally spend £19) and they pay you £4 for doing the assignment.
3. Three Phone Shop - you're required to query about wanting a new phone for 30 minutes with a staff member and they pay you £8.50 for doing the assignment.
4. Superdrug - you're required to make a query at the pharmacy counter and purchase some medicine and then purchase a cosmetics item, and they reimburse you £13 for your purchases and pay you £4 for doing the assignment (I love makeup so I was so excited for this one).
5. Savers - you're required to purchase an alcohol item and they reimburse you £5 for your purchase and pay you £3 for doing the assignment (great for student night life haha).
Other great ones I've done are Pret A Manger, Creams Cafe, Sports Direct, Next, Greggs - the list is literally endless. They ALWAYS have pub assignments available which are great but the ones like Arsenal football club and Superdrug do go really quick so you normally have to apply fast if you see them available. I normally check for assignments on a Monday because I've noticed that they upload the new ones then. Once I saw a hotel assignment available that required you to purchase dinner, book a night for yourself and a guest and then purchase breakfast in the morning and they would reimburse you up to £300?! But it was in Birmingham and I didn't have anyone to go with, sad times - those ones are rare though!
Of course you can spend more than the reimbursement amount during your assignments; I sometimes spend the extra amount that I know I'll get as fee money. For example, for the Savers assignment where I had to purchase alcohol for £5 and I was getting paid £3 for doing it, I could purchase an item for £8 because my total money that I'll receive would cover it. Or I could spend £10 on an item and then I'd be spending £2 of my own money on a product, which is a good deal overall.
This post may seem confusing so if any of you have questions about the whole mystery shopping thing then please comment below! Also, if any of you are interested in applying to Market Force then comment your NAME and EMAIL ADDRESS below because I can send you a personal referral from my mystery shopper account! But, I hope this post inspired you all and gave you an idea on how to make more money - even if you're not fussed about getting money but are more interested in getting freebies then it's so worth it. Whether you want a free lunch, dinner or random things like alcohol, clothes, homeware items, makeup and more, then you'll for sure love being a mystery shopper.