If you've been anywhere near a bar in the last few years, you've heard of services like Uber, where regular people get paid to drive their cars around like taxis. You might also have thought about becoming a driver. Here's what you should consider first.
Photo by Alper Çuğun
Personal finance blog Studenomics has a detailed account of what its author Martin experienced after becoming an Uber driver for nearly a month. It's a helpful look into what it's like on the driver end of the experience if you've ever been curious about it. As you might expect, there are some unexpected benefits:
I know every single hot spot in Toronto.
If someone tells you that Toronto is boring, you need to tell this person that they're a complete loser. I didn't realise how lively this city is until I started driving. I know of every hot spot on every single night of the week. You discover places that you didn't even think existed.
As Martin explains, half of the advantage to becoming an Uber driver is the people you get to meet. If you're a networking type, being a driver could increase your chances at meeting people in your city. This is great, since the money may not be the best motivator:
So on a totally random (and chilly) Tuesday I was able to earn $164.17 in fares while putting in 4 hours and 48 minutes of work.
Here's the catch. Uber gets 20%. So that means they get $32.83. So I get $131.34. Then you factor in your fuel. Oh yeah, and how could I forget? Taxes. Finally, Uber only calculates the distance for when you're driving a passenger and not the distance/time you travel to pick up passengers.
If you can operate a calculator, you might notice that even after all those cuts, that $131.34 still comes out to around $27/hour, which isn't too bad. However, as Martin points out, it's not passive income. Nor is it without costs that accumulate in wear and tear on your car, opportunity costs, or fuel. (The exact percentages are likely to differ in Australia as well)
With ride sharing becoming an increasingly popular topic (for good and ill), it's not unreasonable to ask yourself if there's a way you can earn some extra cash with your car on the weekends or during your free time. While this isn't a difficult answer to solve, Martin's piece offers a lot of perspective on both the good and bad aspects of becoming a ride-sharing driver.
Is It Worth Driving For Uber? My Taxi Driver Confessions [Studenomics via Rockstar Finance]