Increasing My Income: Uber

Day 10| Paid: $1150.36 | Remaining Debt: $61998.08

No matter what I am not going to get out of this debt simply decreasing my expenses. I already live fairly frugally and don’t have much more to cut out than I already am planning on doing. So the only other way to make this work is to increase my income.

As I have already mentioned a few times I have some experience with Uber, and Uber is the first source of extra income that I am planning on using to dig myself out of this hole.

My History With Uber

I actually started Ubering a little bit in October 2019. In the 2.5 months I did it in 2019 I earned $1309.87. In 2020, due to Covid, I barely Ubered and only earned $768.83, and in 2021 got a little more serious and brought in $4091.35. Since I started I have never been consistent with it. It has always been something I have done occasionally after work or on the weekends, only when I feel like doing it, and only when they have good promotions.

How Uber Pays

For those of you who aren’t familiar with how Uber works on the drivers side, for each ride a driver gets paid a set amount per mile and per minute. For example I get paid $0.68 per mile, and $0.13 per minute. If I have to wait over 2 minutes at the pickup, I get paid a small amount for each extra minute I wait, and if the distance from where I accept the pickup to the actual pickup location is over 10 minutes I get paid a tiny amount for each minute over 10 minutes that it takes me to get to the passenger pickup.

Basically what the base pay amounts to is not very much, it is barely over the IRS Mileage Reimbursement rate.. In fact of the $4091.35 I earned in 2021, only $2484.93, or 60.73% of the income, came from Fares. The other $1606.42 or 39.27% came from Promotions and Tips.

Promotions:  They are not consistent, and they are not always offered each week, and they vary drastically by market and can even vary per driver.

Quests: In my experience they usually offer 2 Quests each week, one from Monday – Thursday, and another from Friday – Sunday. In these if you complete a certain number of trips you get some extra money. Of course you have to select your quest prior to the start, and you are limited to only receiving the quest bonus that you selected and complete. These quests bonuses used to be much higher, but lately have been really low. For example right now I have a 20 trip quest bonus of $20, and if I do 10 more trips to make a total of 30 I will receive an extra $10. That is only a bonus of $1 per trip. I tend to always select the lowest quest each week since I am not consistent and honestly getting even 20 trips after work on Mon-Thurs, or on Fri-Sun can be difficult if I want to do anything else with my life besides drive.

Consecutive Ride Bonuses: Along with those quest bonuses they also tend to offer Consecutive Ride Bonuses where if you do 3 rides in a row, without rejecting or cancelling any, you get some extra cash. These usually have to start in specified area, and are limited to an hour or two of time. For example last night I had a 3 consecutive trip bonus from 9pm – 11pm of $16. It was very slow, so it took almost that entire time to get 3 trips in, but I got my extra $16. They may have morning or afternoon consecutive bonuses too, like today there is one for $5 for 3 trips from 3pm – 4pm.

Other Bonuses: And then every once in a while, if you haven’t driven recently, they may throw you a big bonus just for completing a few rides. The best one I saw was last year I had one that was 3 Rides for $100. It was one time, you couldn’t repeat it and do another 3 rides for another $100, but still that was a pretty easy $100. Right now I have one like that, 10 rides for $100, which I should easily complete this week.

Tips: And of course there are tips. Very few passengers tip, but the tips I do get go a long way to making it profitable and worthwhile. In 2021 out of the $4091.35 in total I earned, $329.92 was in tips.

All of this is to say that back in the day when Uber started, the pay was supposedly great. In 2019 when I started the pay seemed decent, but I heard from other drivers it had gotten worse over the years. Now, in late 2021 and the start of 2022 I am seeing the pay get even worse.

Even with the decrease in pay over time this is still the quickest way for me to increase my income. I want to find other ways to bring in money that are more passive and not directly tied to my time and decreasing the value of my car. But I need to start destroying this debt asap, and until I figure something else out Uber is the best place to start.

Benefits of Uber

Despite the decreased pay over the years there are some definite benefits to Uber, especially for my current situation:

It doesn’t take time to ramp up. Unlike other side hustles it doesn’t take time to build up an audience or customer base. If I want to make some money I can just turn on the app, give some rides, and make some money.

There is no set schedule. I can go online whenever I want, and turn it off whenever I want. I am not locked into any specific schedule which is ideal for my current situation.

Doesn’t require a large up front cost. Yes of course you need to have a vehicle, but I already do. Otherwise there are of course increased costs of gas, car maintenance, cleaning, etc… But you don’t need much cash up front to get things started.

Downsides of Uber

However Uber has some definite downsides as well including:

Increased wear and tear on my car

Passengers getting my car dirty, and increased time and cost of keeping the car clear

Potential for passengars throwing up

Potential safety issues with passengers

Why I Don’t Do Food Delivery Instead

I tried doing uber eats once, and the pay seemed even worse compared to driving passengers. Most of the time delivering food you have to drive to a restaurant, get out of your car and go inside, wait for the food, pick up the food, drive to the customers house or apartment, get out of the car, go into the apartment and find their door, drop off the food, and return to the car and drive back towards where the restaurants are. To me that seems like a lot of getting in and out of the car. The only benefit is you don’t have to deal with other people in your car.

But with passengers, the vast majority of them are friendly, quiet, and just want a clean safe ride. So you accept a request, pull up to their location, they get in, you drive to where they are going, pull over, and they get out. That is it. No walking into restaurants or apartment buildings. No waiting for a food order to be ready. It is very simple, and I vastly prefer it to delivering food.

So since I am already familiar with how Uber works and I generally enjoy doing it, that will be my first additional source of income to bridge my income/expense gap and increase my income to pay off my debt. Tonight I am going to sit down and figure out a game plan for Uber for the next year and how to get the most bang for my buck out of the platform.

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