So you want to be an Uber driver, eh? Do you like the idea of making your own hours and creating your own income? Perhaps you know someone who is an Uber driver or maybe you talked about signing up with the Uber driver you once requested. Whatever the case may be, I want you to know that it is not worth your time and the dividends are misleading in the end. However, if you are on the fence about signing up, fasten your seatbelt and let this ex-Uber driver persuade you otherwise.
Not too long ago, I became a full-time Uber driver. I was in a period of transition for about a month in my career. I had seen ads almost everywhere wooing people to sign up and become an Uber driver with the potential of earning $16-25 an hour. For someone who had a whole month off and plenty of time to kill, I, like a sheep to the slaughter, signed up.
The process was fast and simple. I met all the qualifications and waited about a week for my background check to clear. I received easy instructions via text message and in the blink of an eye…. I was an official Uber driver.
Now, at the time, I was living in Rhode Island and lived about 15 minutes from downtown Providence. If you know anything about Rhode Island, you know that it is the smallest state in the USA. Providence has a reputation for being a cute, quaint, artsy city. It is the home of Brown University, RISD, JWU and Providence College. In other words, everything is close by.
Okay, I’ll be honest I was slightly nervous the first night. It was like the feeling of asking a girl that you really liked to go with you to your Jr. Prom. You just didn’t know what was going to happen. I got in my car, opened the app, went online and waited…. I waited 30 minutes before I received my first ping. I admit I experienced a high rush. My adrenaline was racing as I drove hastily to the destination and waited for a complete stranger to open my back door and sit down. Matter of fact, the first night felt like a high going from street to street and seeing stranger after stranger.
I drove for Uber for a good month and while the intention of this post is to dissuade you from becoming an Uber driver, it would be terribly wrong and deceitful to say that nothing good came of it. For one, I love the thrill and experience and especially meeting new people. Uber does not fail at that.
There’s no limit to who uses the app and whom you pick up. It could be young, old, educated or not. For me, a good handful were University students. However, I have had everyone from your average mom to your late night drunk and drag queen. I usually kept conversation to a minimal and professional. Not everyone wants to talk, but then again some passengers were chatterboxes, so I would entertain them. I even had a few cute girls offer to buy me drinks! (And no, I never took their offers.) But to those who enjoyed conversation, they all had the same question. How does Uber work? And is the money worth it? I will gladly answer the last question! So tighten your seatbelt. The ride may get a little bumpy.
The Money Is Not Worth It
The money is not worth all the driving. Uber advertises that the average driver can earn up to $588 a week, based on a national average. Sure, $588 sounds pretty easy for just driving your car for 40 hours a week, but the money doesn’t add up. Keep in mind, Uber pays you in the form of 1099. You’re an independent contractor. That means you get the straight cash for all the driving you do. No taxes are taken out, but you're responsible to pay what you owe in taxes come April 15th. Also, you have to consider the gas and mileage you will put on your vehicle. The more you drive the more you’re at risk accidents, potholes, and other damaging circumstances. Let’s not forget about gasoline. We can all be thankful that gas prices have decreased drastically, but we all still feel the burden of filling up our tanks. If you drive 5 days a week for 6-8 hours a day, you will be putting in about $20 a day. At 5 days a week that’s another $100 dollars just in gas! Subtract that from $588, you’re left with $488 and don’t forget about Uncle Sam’s share. Let’s take away anywhere between another $60-100 dollars. If you’re lucky you're pulling in close to $400 a week for working a 40-hour work week. So, in essence, you’re really making $10 an hour for driving your car. Plus, keep in mind it is not Uber’s policy for the customer to tip the driver. However, there are a few kind souls left in this world who will do so.
Limited Perks & Poor Health
I love my car and I enjoy driving. However, after a full week of driving in your car, I promise you, you may go crazy. I understand plenty of people drive for a living, but they sure as hell get paid a lot more than $10 hour! Who wants to sit for those long periods of time? Your back will hurt. Your legs will get cramped and may get sleepy. Yes, you can stop whenever you want and take a break, maybe even stretch. Sure, you can equate it to an office job where you're stuck behind a small cubicle, but c’mon, office jobs have some perks! Uber doesn’t offer any perks that are worth the time. Oh wow, 15% off at AutoZone or a Wireless carrier. Keep in mind the app uses your data and not everyone has unlimited or good data for their smartphone. (There’s another expense to consider.) Plus, the Uber app crashed from time to time and the GPS did not work correctly.
It’s A Big Risk
One of my characteristics is being a risk taker and thrill seeker. However, it also has been one of my weaknesses. I believe whole heartily in taking the lesser known road, trying something new and also breaking rules. But you can’t always dismiss sound wisdom. Uber allows you to use your personal vehicle. Should anything happen, you are responsible, not Uber. You must have a valid license and insurance policy. Being an Uber driver is a gray area in terms of your insurance policy. Should anything terrible occur, will your insurance cover the cost? Insurance companies are in business to make money, not lose it. Also, from time to time, Uber makes the news because of unruly passengers and drivers. Uber is like a box of chocolates; you never know whom you’re going to get. You could potentially run into the wrong individual who robs you, destroys your personal property or even worse! But then again life is a risk.
In conclusion, the initial rush and experience of meeting new people are fantastic! Should you be in a bind like me and out of work for a month, Uber may help put some food in the stomach and provide some play cash. However, the money is not there. Consider gas and taxes, limited perks, wear and tear on your vehicle, and the possibility of the worse and you being held responsible. I’ve used Uber a handful of times as a passenger and have had terrific experiences. However, I hated driving for Uber and would never do it again. I would rather wash dishes or dig holes than to subject myself to driving for them. I simply took off my seatbelt and walked away.
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