In mystery shopping, there's certainly some joy in being able to do what you love most and help stores do better. But you're also in it to earn money, which can be done in certain ways. Your assignments will provide you some cash, but you can probably make more out of them. As a consequence, thinking like a freelancer can deliver some results in the form of being savvy with your expenses and taxes. That way, you can find some extra cash on your assignments because you did your job. An example of this is expense reimbursements.
Getting paid to spend
Expense reimbursements are a part of any business. Basically, you are paid for any spending you make on a particular item or good. In mystery shopping, you're given a small reimbursement for the items you purchase during an assignment. The reimbursement usually comes with the paycheck.
There are various uses for expense reimbursements that can help boost your income out of the mystery shopping experience. For example, during a certain assignment, you may be able to purchase some necessity or item that you were looking to get in the near future, according to Mystery Shopper Maven. With the reimbursement, you would essentially get this item for free. Another particular advantage that is noted are the tax benefits. Expenses can be used as a form of tax deduction, especially as an independent contractor. According to the IRS, you can consider purchases that you made as part of an assignment as a business expense.
However, it is important to note that doing these particular practices require a certain amount of vigilance. Not every assignment will allow you to purchase items you really need. Taking the time to select assignments that work best for you and maximize items you would like to purchase takes time, so you may want to consider working with the provider you have until you're able to write up a plan that gives you the maximum benefits of reimbursed items.
Planning it all out
In order to make the most of utilizing expense reimbursements, you have to organize and make a solid plan. For example, according to accounting site FreshBooks, you should figure out what is acceptable as an expense. Asking your mystery shopping provider can be a great help in this. You should also stay focused on expenses related to your assignment when doing taxes, including the money used for traveling to the assignment. Otherwise, you'll likely be audited.
After figuring out which expenses work best for you, you'll want to write out all of your expenditures. That means creating an expense report that is efficient and effective. That means collecting the right amount of information when it comes to an expense done during an assignment, such as a receipt and card slip. This information will help your mystery shopper provider more efficiently process your expense reimbursements, as suggested by expense management firm Concur. In addition, having copies of this information on hand can become useful during tax season, since the IRS will likely need proof of the expenses.
After creating an effective expense report, it would be ideal to develop a habit to send them out in an efficient manner. The faster you send out proof of your expenses, the better the chance that you'll be reimbursed quickly. The results can pay off over time. Being savvy with your expenses can result in you saving money on taxes, especially if you fail to receive a 1099 from one of your providers. It can also make you some extra cash to go with your mystery shopping gigs.