Budget Divas

Mystery Shopping Magic: Regaining Control and Living Your Dreams, Even with Debt

August 31, 2023 Jenn Trinidad Episode 71
Budget Divas
Mystery Shopping Magic: Regaining Control and Living Your Dreams, Even with Debt
Show Notes Transcript

Ep #71: What if it was true, that you could have your cake and eat it too? What would it mean for you to enjoy the finer things in life WHILE still paying off debt?

In this episode, you'll hear my personal journey of rediscovery, financial empowerment, and a unique approach to overcoming debt while living your dreams. My own story of how mystery shopping became the catalyst for transformation, even in the midst of debt.

We are all familiar with the struggle of balancing the demands of everyday life while grappling with a mountain of student loans and credit card debt. Despite passion for dining out, traveling, and spending quality time with loved ones, debt seemed insurmountable. Options for indulging in the things I loved were limited, leading me to extreme frugality and unconventional money-saving methods.

But then, a chance conversation with a colleague introduced me to the world of mystery shopping. It was a revelation - the opportunity to enjoy her favorite activities without the crippling cost. Through mystery shopping, I began to dine at high-end restaurants and experience luxurious outings, all while getting reimbursed for expenses. Even more thrilling, I could bring her husband and son along on these adventures.

In this episode, you'll hear the true power of mystery shopping to manage your finances better. With the additional income from mystery shopping, she could tackle her debts systematically. By creating a detailed budget, it allowed me to enjoy life while also making significant strides toward debt freedom. Through patience and discipline, I resisted overspending, making mindful choices that aligned with her financial goals.

As a result, my debt began to shrink, and financial freedom became a reality. In just one year, our family paid off a remarkable $41,000 of debt, all while enjoying the experiences we cherished. Mystery shopping not only provided financial relief but also opened doors to new adventures and introduced her to incredible people in the industry.

If you're eager to learn more about accelerating your debt payoff journey while enjoying the things you love, I'd love to invited you to a free training session at www.budgetdivas.com/faster, providing invaluable insights and strategies for financial freedom without sacrificing your lifestyle.

So, remember, it's never too late to rewrite your financial narrative and turn your dreams into reality.

You're Invited to a free LIVE training: How To Get Out of Debt Faster With Mystery Shopping. Register here: https://www.budgetdivas.com/faster

Mystery shopping? What's that got to do with my finances? Mystery shopping isn't just about scoring free meals or testing out luxury cars; it's a powerful tool that can turbocharge your journey to financial independence! Imagine paying off your student loans, credit card debt, or that pesky mortgage years ahead of schedule! Head over to www.budgetdivas.com/faster and secure your spot. Seats are limited, and you won't want to miss out on this life-changing event. It's time to take control of your financial future and unlock the potential within you.

Hello, everyone, and welcome back to another exciting episode of "Budget Divas. I'm your host, Jenn Trinidad, and today I have a personal tale to share with you, a story about how mystery shopping completely transformed my life, allowing me to not only pursue my passions but also overcome a mountain of debt.

In today's episode, we're going to shine a light on the emotional side of debt, the impact not only finances but also our relationships. Before we dive into today's story, I want to acknowledge something. If you're listening right now and you're dealing with debt, I want you to know that you're not alone. Debt is a common part of many people's lives, and it doesn't define your worth. It's a challenge, yes, but it's also an opportunity for growth, learning, and ultimately, financial freedom.


Let me take you back to a time when I was just like many of you, juggling the demands of life while dreaming of something more.


Picture this: it was several years ago. I was working a typical 9-to-5 job, and while I enjoyed my work, I found myself drowning in student loans and credit card debt. And to top it off, I worked nights and weekends and hardly saw my family and friends. 

I yearned for a way to break free from this financial burden and embrace the things I loved most - travel, dining out, and going to the beach with my husband and son. I remember the only time I went to fancy restaurants and fancy social events was if I was going there for business. 

I was so desperate to get out of debt and pay off my credit cards, student loans, and car loan, and any other debt I have. It was overwhelming and I had to find a way to make more money so I could make a dent in my debt. I was already working at my regular job during the day plus nights and weekends and hardly had any free time for anything else. I remember every single night, I would go on Pinterest and look up “extreme frugal ways to save money”. Some of the advice I got on there was definitely extreme – from using cloth toilet paper, eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every day, cutting my own hair, and DIYing everything to save money. 

It seemed like these frugal ideas meant spending way more TIME on things that I didn’t want to do rather than on things that I loved. 

Then I started other ideas… like extreme couponing which was trendy and cool back in the day. I would get all of this free stuff but it still wasn’t making a dent in my budget. In fact, I probably spent way MORE money because although I was getting a lot of stuff for free there was still some out of pocket expenses.

I even tried those online surveys like Swagbucks where you answer questions and they pay you for your time. But it was draining and I would do all of these surveys for hours at a time only get $3 - $5 for my time. 

I remember watching the movie “Confessions of a Shopaholic” and thinking wow, I wish I could be a personal shopper and shop all day long. That would be a dream come true…. Even if I wasn’t shopping for myself I would at least get to spend time in the luxury stores and look at all the pretty things. 

But I didn’t know how. So I did what I knew… which was to not go out at all…. and that meant going to work, paying debt on pay day, and doing every single FREE thing I could find. Now, I love the outdoors like hiking and of course going to the beach but sometimes that gets old and all I wanted to do was go to a nice restaurant with my husband, take my kid out to somewhere fun that meant spending money, and treating myself for once. 

Then I learned about mystery shopping from a friend at work. She described it to me like those long online surveys that I’ve been doing for $3- $5 of work but that it paid actual money plus reimbursement for expenses. She told me her mom was a mystery shopper and would get paid to stay in hotels, go to fancy restaurants, and basically do all the things I wanted to do. 

Mystery shopping, for those of you who might not be familiar, is when you're hired to visit businesses undercover, evaluate their service, and report back your findings. At first, it sounded too good to be true - getting paid to dine at restaurants, shop at stores, or even attend events. But I decided to give it a try, and it was a decision that changed my life in ways I could have never imagined.

One of the most immediate benefits of mystery shopping was the ability to enjoy my favorite activities without the crippling cost. I started receiving assignments to visit high-end restaurants and get reimbursed for my meals. That meant I could savor gourmet cuisine without burning a hole in my pocket.

I remember one particularly memorable evening when I dined at a five-star restaurant, enjoying the finest dishes, and it didn't cost me a dime. My husband and I were able to find a way to get in our date nights, 100% paid by someone else. 

You know Dave Ramsey says on his show that “you’re not seeing inside of a restaurant unless you’re working there”. I used to laugh at that response because there was no way I was going to work in a restaurant. I had done that in high school and did not enjoy it one bit. So I thought, alright I guess I’m never going to see the inside of a restaurant until I’m debt-free. But that was until I found mystery shopping. I had essentially found a way to “work” in a restaurant thought mystery shopping. without actually working as an employee of the restaurant.  

But the true magic of mystery shopping was its ability to help me manage my finances better. With the additional income from mystery shopping, I could not only indulge in my passions but also tackle my debts systematically. I set clear financial goals, allocating a portion of my mystery shopping earnings to paying down my student loans and credit card debt.


Now, I'm sure many of you are wondering how I managed to balance my love for fine dining and music events while staying on top of my financial responsibilities. Well, it wasn't always easy, but it was definitely doable. One strategy that worked wonders for me was budgeting. I created a detailed budget that included my essential expenses, debt payments, and a section for my passions. This way, I could enjoy life while also chipping away at my debt. But it’s hard to do this alone. So that’s why I have an upcoming training that is 100% free…. And if you go to budgetdivas.com/faster you will learn how you can get out of debt wayyyy faster without sacrificing the things you love in life. And the best part is that it is totally 100% up to you if you choose to tell your friends and family about your debt freedom journey. They don’t even have to know that you’re getting out of debt… because all they see is that you are enjoying life doing the things you love already… and also the basics in life… going to the grocery store, post office, gas stations, etc. 

Another valuable lesson I learned was the importance of patience and discipline. I had to resist the temptation to overspend, even when I was dining at fancy restaurants or amusement parks. Instead of ordering everything on the menu, I would choose a few dishes and savor them. Instead of buying the most expensive products that caught my eye, I picked the ones that truly mattered to me.

In that first year of mystery shopping and paying off debt, the debt began to shrink, and my financial freedom grew. We had paid off $41k of debt in ONE year. I truly give a TON of credit to mystery shopping because it kept me motivated to keep moving forward. I no longer had to sit at home watching Netflix every night and eating “rice and beans” for dinner. I had a reason to go shopping… not just for enjoyment but to get paid (to make money) and get the experiences. 


It was an incredible feeling to see my bank account healthier than it had ever been. But mystery shopping offered me more than just financial relief. It opened doors to new experiences, introduced me to amazing people in the industry, and gave me a sense of adventure.

One of the most profound moments of my journey was when I got to combine my love for mystery shopping with my passion for travel. I started taking assignments in different cities…. Like when my family and I went to Disneyland or when we went to Seattle to drop off my son to college. With mystery shopping, it’s not only about getting paid and paying off debt but also the experiences you receive… and in exchange for your time and feedback, these companies pay for it. 

Imagine going to amusement parks, fancy hotels, even on cruise ships and getting paid to experience these places on the company’s dime. Mystery shopping has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for  me and it can do the same for you. 

So, to all of you listening out there, if you find yourself in a similar situation, drowning in debt but yearning for the finer things in life, I want you to remember that there's hope. Consider exploring opportunities like mystery shopping to not only enjoy your passions but also regain control of your finances.

Before we wrap up this episode, I want to leave you with one key takeaway. No matter what your financial situation looks like, with determination, budgeting, and a little creativity, you can find a way to pursue your passions and achieve your dreams. It's never too late to change your narrative and make your dreams a reality.