Sometimes it’s just not possible to drive, drive, drive to earn more. However, earning more in 2023 is possible! Below, contributor-at-large Jay Cradeur shares how you can maximize earnings and minimize expenses with these seven tips.
I was a full-time driver in San Francisco for four years, but in 2023, I am a part-time driver in Sacramento. Making money comes down to two things. First, make as much as you can. Second, reduce your expenses. But how can you do all of that?
Below, I’ll cover seven simple strategies I’ve used over the years to improve my earnings capacity and augment my take-home earnings.
Two Scenarios, Two Different Outcomes
Let’s start by looking at two scenarios. I can make $100 in rideshare revenue, but if I spend $70 in expenses, I only take home $30.
In scenario two, if I make $80 and only have $20 in costs, even though I make less, I keep more with $60. It’s not just about making more. It is also about spending less so you can save more.
#1 – Buy the cheapest gas in your area
Besides your car, this is your most significant expense. This is especially true now when inflation ravages our country and most of the world.
When I resumed driving in September, gas prices reached $6 per gallon. Wow! That was crazy high. Fortunately, the prices have come down considerably. Nowadays, I am paying around $3.95.
There are two places I recommend to buy the cheapest gas. If you have a Costco near you, then you are lucky. Costco usually has the lowest prices in town.
You can try an ARCO AM/PM if you are not near a Costco. They also have reasonable prices, usually just $.10 or $.20 more than Costco.
Do a lot of driving and not always near a Costco or other cheap gas spot? Download Upside, which helps you find cheap gas with cash-back options. Check out our Upside review to learn more about how it works, or our video here: How To Use The Upside Gas App To Save Money [Tutorial]
#2- Talk it up; listen up to get the best tips
Earning tips is a function of your relationship with the passenger. You rarely get a tip from a passenger sitting quietly in the back of your car. You have to invest some energy into your passenger to get that tip.
Airport runs give the best tips. This is because you can talk about where the passenger is going, which is often exciting for the passenger. Also, you can help with the luggage, which also helps with tips.
Tips are 100% for you. Get all that you can.
#3 – Keep your car clean
I still remember getting into an Uber driver’s car when I arrived at the San Francisco airport. He did not help me with my bags. He had loud hip-hop music playing. Worst of all, you could see a thick layer of dust on the car dashboard. You could run your finger over it and make a clear line.
I wanted to get home so I could shower, but luckily that experience taught me a valuable lesson: keep my car clean. This will impress the passenger and potentially get a tip.
I wash my car once a week at Quick Quack car wash here in Sacramento. I then hand wipe all the windows, inside and out. I pull out the mats and shake all the dirt off. Finally, I give the car a short blast of Ozium air freshener.
It’s simple and takes about 20 minutes. This can make a big difference in your revenue.
#4 – Don’t drive too fast, but be efficient
You don’t want to get a speeding ticket. But you also don’t want your passenger to think you are taking too much time getting to your destination.
I drive fast, and I especially drive fast in between rides. I want to eliminate as much time without a passenger so I can have more time with a passenger. More passenger time per hour converts to more money per hour. Drive calm, but drive with intention.
#5 – Get the bonuses (not like they used to be, but they do add a few dollars to each ride)
I remember to this day when, in 2016, I found out that Uber was paying a $500 per week bonus for 120 rides. That bonus lasted for a good six months.
Lyft had a similar bonus. One week I worked every day, ten hours a day, and earned both bonuses and netted over $3,000.
But those days are long gone. That does not mean you can’t make some extra money just by hitting Uber and Lyft’s targets. In Sacramento, I can pick up an additional $35 during the week and about $75 on the weekends. Every little bit counts.
#6- For Full-Time Drivers – Lease A Car With Unlimited Miles
I’m a part-time driver, so I own my vehicle and don’t put too many miles on it. If you are a full-time driver, it usually makes sense to lease a car with unlimited miles. In most cases, the lease includes insurance and a maintenance plan.
I just received this offer from Uber to drive a Tesla with unlimited miles. If I were to go back to rideshare driving seriously, I would move back to San Francisco and be driving this Telsa.
#7- Drive when there is high demand, nights and early mornings
I don’t love driving drunk people, so I don’t drive into the midnight hours. You can make the most money per hour on Friday and Saturday nights, and you will have some stories to tell.
I like to start my driving shift at 4 AM. I feel like I am the only driver in Sacramento. I can drive nonstop from 4 AM until noon, always with the next ride queued up.
Each market is different. Find those times when people need rides, and only a few drivers are working. That is the sweet spot.
Driving is a business – your business. Do these fundamental things right, and you will get the most money from your market possible. You will feel good providing a service for your fellow citizens and cashing out at the end of the day with some substantial money in your pocket.
What do you think about these universal tips to earn more money, no matter what market you drive in? Is there anything you would add to this list?
-Jay @ RSG