Gig working: is it worth it?

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Over the last few years, a new avenue of making money has become more and more popular, gig working.Gig Work

IMO, it’s really just the next logical step in the direction of using freelance independent contractors to do things that employees used to do without the cost and liabilities of having the employees on the payroll.

Corporations are always looking for the cheapest way out and they seem to almost always attempt to save money at the wrong end of the food chain, with those who actually interact with their customers. Personally, I think that’s a lousy way to do business, but in today’s world, everything is about shareholder value. The upper echelon certainly isn’t going to cut their own bloated pay and outlandish bonuses, so it’s always the front lines that take the beating.

On the bright side, corporate greed does often lead to money making opportunities for those of us disgruntled unemployables. And that’s where the rise of some of the potentially more lucrative gig working jobs comes in.

Is Gig Working Worth It?

Well, yes, no, maybe so. 🙂 Just like any other work from home or self-employed type endeavor, gig working will definitely be worth it to some people, but not to others. It all depends on how you approach it and what you need out of it. In this article, I’ll mostly be discussing rideshare and delivery type gigs, i.e., Uber, Lyft, GrubHub, Doordash, Postmates, InstaCart, Shipt, etc

Gig working part time

If you already have a job that you can tolerate and it pays the bills, but just want to earn some extra cash on the side, the odds are pretty good that you can find something in the gig working world that will benefit you, especially if you can’t find a decent part time job that fits into your work and family schedule.

When I started testing out rideshare to see if it would work out for me, I didn’t have to worry about driving home, changing, and heading off to a different part time job. Instead, I could just fire up the driver apps for Uber and Lyft as I was walking out the door after work and I might have a “ping” before I even got to my car door. If not, I’d start heading towards the area I wanted to work in and I would probably get a ride request before I was more than a few minutes down the road. After that, who knows where the journey would take me?

Shortly after I started with Uber and Lyft, I decided to test out some of the food delivery apps that were available in my market. Where I’m at, we have UberEats, Doordash, GrubHub, and Postmates close by. Due to where I actually live, where I worked, and how the different apps operate, it wasn’t quite as simple as just firing up the apps and going to work.

Technically, I could just go available with UE and Postmates, but they really have little to no business in my immediate area, so I did need to head to somewhere that had a bigger cluster of restaurants that used their services. With GH and DD, it’s best to schedule “blocks” of time to work instead of just going available. However, depending on how many drivers are active, you may or may not always have the opportunity. Every market around the country is different.

If you’re trying to do gig working part time around your job and family schedule, it’s usually best to work the peak times for whichever type your doing. For rideshare, that is usually going to getting people to and from work in the early mornings or late afternoons, as well as toting around the drunk crowd late at night and on weekends. For delivery, your best bet is working lunch from late mornings to early afternoon and dinner from late afternoon into the night.

There will be plenty of trial and error to see which areas work best for what. It’s hard to beat the flexibility and you don’t have to worry about a traditional part time job needing you to work when you don’t want to. Every market varies, but once you’ve figured it out, earning in the $15-$25/hour range or more part time is usually achievable.

Gig working full-time

Well, if you’re anything like me, you may have deemed yourself as unemployable. In my case, it’s not due to laziness, it’s simply due to my lack of love for corporate America. By the time I knew for certain that I didn’t have the stomach to play the corporate game and climb the corporate ladder, I was kind of stuck.

Again, depending on your needs and location, gig working full time might just be possible, at least for the immediate future. I would have to caution that you probably want to have back-up plans B – E ready to go just in case.

If you’re going to give gig working full time a shot, you really need to be prepared. The freedom and flexibility are great, but being self-employed takes a hell of a lot more discipline than being an employee.

You have to determine how realistic it is that you can make enough money to support yourself and be aware that there are additional expenses and potential issues with doing this full time. In my market, I believe that it’s possible to earn $30k-$50k/year gross without killing yourself. I also believe that this could change drastically in a heartbeat. I’m willing to take that risk.

I left a job that paid a decent amount of money. It wasn’t enough for what the job demanded and how miserable I was working there, but it allowed me to pay off my debt, provided discounted health insurance, and had a 401k that matched up to 5%. If you decide to do gig working full time, all of this is now on you to provide for yourself if you want to keep those benefits.

Acquiring slightly better health insurance cost me about triple what I was paying at work and if I want to get the same benefits as the 401k provided, I need to double my contributions from earnings into either a solo 401k or an IRA. I’m actually still sorting some of this out, but I knew what I was getting into before I made the jump.

If you’re thinking about doing this, make sure you test things out first to see if it seems reasonable for what you need out of it.

Expenses and potential issues

Before I wrap this up, I just wanted to make sure to l let you know about some of the additional expenses and potential issues that you can have when gig working full or part time.

car repairs

Vehicle wear and tear/fuel expenses: In most cases, you’re going to be putting a lot more miles on your vehicle than you did in any of your traditional jobs. Gasoline is going to be the biggest initial upfront cost in your week to week working, but at some point it’s a good bet that there will be a major mechanical expense that will need to be handled. This is going to cost you on two fronts, the cost for the repairs and the downtime while the repairs are being made unless you have a second vehicle that can be used. Make sure you are putting money aside for when the inevitable happens.

Taxes: We all love taxes. While write offs will drastically lower your net income, you will need to submit estimated taxes every quarter, the bulk of which will probably be the 15.3% in self-employment(FICA) taxes.

Insurance: While Uber/Lyft do provide some coverage you while doing rideshare, you should also have additional rideshare insurance from your insurance provider added. Depending on your location, you may need a commercial insurance policy. If you’re going to be doing deliveries other than UberEats, you would also want to see what would be necessary to cover you on that as well.

Increased vulnerability to false claims: It’s a weird world and there are some lousy people in it. Some customers may try to make false claims against you. This can either lead to legal issues or can lead to the app provider deactivating you, which will cut off a revenue stream. Many drivers use dual dashcams to record outside and inside of the vehicle to defend against any malicious individuals who make such claims. It’s really just another form of insurance that you will hopefully never need.

Oversaturation/companies going under: Because we’re all independent contractors, the gig companies often don’t care if they oversaturate a market in order to provide the most complete coverage. This can make it more difficult to get blocks on the delivery apps and can bit into your earnings with rideshare. Additionally, the cut throat nature of the market share battle that’s going on means companies will come and go. This could leave you high and dry if you rely too heavily on just one company. Keep your eyes, and options, open.

Whatever you decide to do, good luck to you. Feel free to leave comments and ask questions. I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

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