My Journey out of Debt

Featured customers currently enrolled in a CareOne Debt Relief Plan, share journey to become debt-free; hear how they juggle family, finances, and more.

"Magical Mystery Tour..."

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My wife and I celebrated her birthday last month and I was down to the wire as to what to do for her.  We are very careful about spending money and have agreed that whatever we do for one another should be based on a "need" vs. want basis.  I don't know about you, but the thought of surprising my beautiful wife with a brand new Shop-Vac doesn't sound all that appealing. 

I put my creative hat on last year and made a mini scrapbook for her out of odds and ends that she had in her scrapbook supplies.  Since I already played that card, I had to come up with something new.  The kids had it easy-- all they needed to do was make a handmade card or "Coupon book of Chores" and they were done.  No, I needed something different.  But,what?

It was then that I recalled that my wife is a secret shopper for a couple of companies that assign "shops" at various merchants.  I had gone on a couple of shops with her in the past, which involved visiting a local restaurant and ordering certain menu items as directed by the company.  Once completed, the "shopper" is required to submit a brief summary of the visit, including comments on the cleanliness of the restaurant, cheerfulness of the server, and freshness of the food.  The submittal process takes less than an hour and the shopper is compensated for their effort.  The company also reimburses shoppers (up to a pre-stated amount) for the money they spend on the shop.

Without telling my wife, I was able to book a shop at one of our favorite steakhouses in the area.  I knew the bill would be high, but I also knew the amount of the reimbursement, so I made sure to keep our order below the cutoff amount.  I contacted the restaurant, per the instructions of the shop, and made reservations for my wife's birthday. 

When we arrived, they had our table waiting and it was decorated with a nice card from the general manager and a rose for my wife.  Because we were celebrating her birthday, my wife even got a terrific dessert at the end of the meal.  The evening was fantastic and the meal was out of this world.  The best part?  Not only did my wife have a wonderful birthday dinner, but we were paid for our efforts!

To get more information on mystery shops, contact A Closer Look, at http://www.a-closer-look.com/  or Secret Shopper, at http://www.secretshopper.com/.  Both companies are actively adding shoppers to their ranks and assign shops geographically.

Good Luck!

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John Gougeon

John is a contributing writer for the My Journey Out of Debt blog. John spent more than 20 years in the commercial finance industry and has battled with credit and debit cards for years.  John and his wife know what it's like trying to make ends meet while saving for college for their three daughters. John is half-way up his mountain of debt and his insights and money saving techniques are available to help others on their journey to a debt free life Compensated CareOne Blogger

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  • What a great story, John!  I'll definitely be checking out those websites - thanks for the tip!

  • I have a problem that few people know about. You may even call it an obsession: The thrill of going into a store and talking to and observing employees. Going into a restaurant, and having a great meal with my family. And getting paid for it.

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