Wednesday, November 10, 2010


November 10, 2010

I haven’t forgot you all, we’ve just been super busy. Life is good right now, but then it generally is, you just need to know how to look at any given situation.

I thought once Gary went back to work life would slow down, but instead it has kicked into a higher gear. Something that I didn’t think was possible prior to this last couple of months..

Sean has become my mystery shopping/merchandising partner. We planned on doing mystery shopping on Mondays and Thursdays for just a few hours each day until the mystery shops died their normal death this time of year. Remembering this time last year when we had trouble finding mystery shops to do we figured we’d probably be down to one day a week by late November.

We started working on an idea for a small home based business and doing all the business plans and such required to make a knowledgeable decision on whether or not to do the business has been very time consuming—WHEN we have had time to work on that. More on the new business another time.

Because even though the mystery shopping has slowed down, it has not ceased like we thought it would and the merchandising has quadrupled in volume. We have been putting in 9-10 hour days 5-6 days a week for nearly two months now. NOT complaining Lord! Even better it doesn’t look like it’s going to let up between now and the end of the year.

Gary has not only gone back to work, but has been on overtime for three weeks now and it looks like that too may last through the end of the year.

We are so gazelle intense around here it is crazy! For those of you who are not followers of Dave Ramsey that means we are running from the debt cheetah at gazelle speed to become totally debt free. Every spare penny we make is going on our debt snowball. It has become fun to pay bills! No I am NOT crazy, I said fun.

The three of us now have our Step 1 Baby Emergency Funds fully funded and are now working on our Baby Step 2—the debt snowball (see Dave Ramsey’s book “The Total Money Makeover”) and are making great progress on it.

Sean has paid off a medical bill that was eating him alive and nearly has his only credit card paid off as well. The credit card of course is long gone as we no longer use credit cards in our household. That will leave him with a few truck payments and his student loans and then he will be debt free. I’m so happy for him.

I am still paying on our first installment of the debt snowball, but it will be completed by this time next week. It was a $2,400 medical debt and we are paying it off over three years early based on the scheduled payments. Next will be a credit card that we hope to shave three years or more off the scheduled payoff on. It is truly exciting to see our debt spiral downward for a change. I am so glad we found the Dave Ramsey Total Money Makeover. By staying on this plan we should be totally debt free in 3 years or less including the house! Not bad for a family that was maxed out credit wise and unemployed this time two years ago.

If you are a user of yahoogroups, you should visit with the knowledgeable people at it’s a free to join list and I’ve learned so much from these people!

Now back to merchandising. I’ve never really covered merchandising when talking about mystery shopping so I thought I’d expound a little more on it today.

Most of us walk into a place like Wal-Mart, Target or any number of stores and take for granted the sparkling displays were all placed there by the store’s employees. NOPE! While the employees do re-stock and are responsible for certain merchandise many of those displays and what’s on them is placed there by merchandisers. Here’s how it works.

The store will receive a certain set of merchandise. For this scenario let’s use gift cards. The store will receive the materials to build the actual display case, along with the materials needed to set the display up and stock it. Sometimes they will set up the display themselves other times a merchandising company will send out a merchandiser—or two to set it up. That’s where we come in.

We go in, unbox the display case, assemble it, add the hanging pegs and then set the cards to a planogram and are paid for our services. Then either the store will keep the display stocked OR they will send the merchandiser back once every 1-4 weeks to restock it. Depending on the company the merchandiser gets paid anywhere from $8 to $15 an hour to do the job.

We have each acquired several repetitive weekly jobs. That means guaranteed income weekly until the project runs out. Once the project is set-up often times the hourly rate will drop slightly because it will simply be a short walk in to verify the display is still in good shape and the move onto another project. We’ve been blessed enough on some of our merchandising shops that we have been able to “stack” jobs. Meaning that Sean or I will have a job from one company in a certain store. The other of us (or sometimes the same person) will have 1-2 more jobs in that certain store from other companies. That makes the gas usage is far less and the possible income for each of us greater on a single stop.

I once spoke with a person who did nothing but merchandising and she said she cleared after taxes and expenses over $4,000 per month. We would like to achieve that goal. That could really speed our gazelle along! We aren’t there yet, but we are working toward it. Be aware though merchandising has to be done between certain hours, like a regular job, but generally you have 1-5 days to get the project done. So it is a great “part time” job if you are going to be staying home. We didn’t do these the last two years because we were traveling, but now that we are home for at least 2-3 years it is the best plan for us.

Don’t get me wrong, some of these merchandising jobs are HARD and tiring. Some sound simple to do—repackaging a product and do an inventory of said product—13 hours later you are worn out and the job still isn’t finished. So if you decide to do merchandising READ the instructions closely BEFORE you accept the work, including the fine print. Also be prepared to stand for LONG periods of time.

Another possible source of income is demonstrations. You know the people you see at Sam’s Club handing out samples. This is also contract labor work and can be applied for through several companies at as well. All three types of work are listed at

If none of the above is for you check out the legit jobs at Most of them are work at home jobs. There are all sorts of jobs for all sorts of talents. So if you want to become a earn a little extra money to survive unemployment, earn extra money for the holidays or become gazelle intense and may have the answer for you.

As always if you need more info or a referral to certain companies feel free to leave me a message and I’ll answer as soon as time allows.

Jan who has no affiliation with any of the websites she mentioned in OK.


  1. Wow Jan, thanks for all of the info! There's a lot to take in and so many different places to look! Awesome. Thank you!!!

  2. Anytime. I'm with Kay about text broker as well (see her post on the group). I have signed up with them in the past, but have not written anything for them yet.