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Make Money or Move On!

Are Paper Routes Still Profitable?

This question has been asked of me quite a few times recently. Some grown ups looking for extra cash and some have been teenagers looking to start their own businesses and break the norm of working at the mall, working in fast food joints, and waiting until you are a certain age before you can get any of the aforementioned jobs.

Well, the answer is "it depends" ... it depends on your situation and many other factors.

First, how much money do you need to make? If you need thousands per month in PROFIT, you may be looking in the wrong area. Most paper routes will pay you via a 1099 and the gross amount will range from $100 - $1500 per pay period. Now, 20%-30% of that check will probably have to go to local and federal government for taxes. You must purchase your own supplies so subtract these expenses from your profit. Also, you have to provide the delivery vehicle, the fuel for the vehicle, and pay for all the necessary maintenance on the vehicle. Subtract all of these expenses from your profit.

With gas prices rising every week, you will make less and less profit if you use a car or any other gas powered vehicle to deliver your papers. To maximize your profit, you will need to walk or ride a bike to deliver your papers. Most routes are too big to walk or ride a bike so you must look into purchasing/using a car that gets really good gas mileage. Using your gas guzzling SUV to deliver newspapers is probably a bad idea.

In what neighborhood will you be delivering papers? This is a HUGE factor in determining how much money you will make. Talk to the current carrier to see how people pay and don't pay on the route. If the route has a high number of people who don't pay or pay late, this all will lower your profit! Never get a route with 10% or higher customers who pay late or don't pay at all. Your distribution company will NOT cut these people off. You are basically buying the paper to GIVE the paper to the non-paying customers.

How valuable is your time? If you value your time any, then you must set a number of hours per week that you deem acceptable for delivering newspapers. If your time is not valuable and you can spend forever and a day outside delivering the papers, you may be able to trick yourself into believing you are making a profit. If your time is valuable, every hour spent on your paper route reduces your profit.

Most paper routes are NOT profitable. Talk to the current carrier if possible as this will give you the best idea of the profit of a particular route. NEVER believe the quote the paper distribution company gives you as they are NEVER going to tell you the amount of money you will make. If they do give you a number, cut 25%-50% off that number because you will NEVER get the number they quote you on your check. I am not sure why they lie, but they do. Oh, I do know why ... if you knew how much money you will not be making, you probably would not want that particular route!


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Im just glad thing are going

Im just glad thing are going better and the service as well.

Hi, this is my experience

Hi, this is my experience with delivering for my city's newspaper. (not going to state which paper/company since I want to keep anonymity.

I just started in the beginning of the month, and I'm only doing 1 route which consists of 130 papers. When I first started it took me almost 3 hours to deliver, now it takes me only 50 minutes to 1 hour to deliver on weekdays, and an hour and a half to finish Sunday papers which is about 240 papers. It takes me about 20 minutes to bag all those papers each night, except sunday papers which take about an hour and a half (I'm still clumsy with the bags). The pay is about a thousand dollars a month, which makes the hourly pay pretty good. I make a 20 minute commute each way to pick up the papers, but since it's so minuscule I won't even count it. I do not get charged for complaints which is a plus as well.

So my hours come up to around 11 + hours a week. Because I get 1000 dollars a month, my pay comes to at least 20 dollars an hour minus gas, supplies, maintenance. Soon I'll be picking up a second route of similar size and density, so I can make double the income with better efficiency since I'll be only doing 1 commute for 2 of the routes. It's all about knowing the houses and being quick on your feet. Having a good throwing arm is always a bonus when you are making a drive-by delivery.

There are low lives @ the warehouse with no social lives who have been doing this job for 10+ years. Mostly Mexicans and Vietnamese warriors who smell like top ramen noodles at 2 in the morning and don't speak a bit of proper English, and most of them don't have any manners or social skills. There really isn't a future in the job unless you don't even have a high school diploma. But it's an easy job to be hired at, and depending on your route and your way of doing things, the pay can be alright. Delivering papers isn't glorious, but it's easy money since you don't really have to know anything. There is a bit of job satisfaction in knowing that your customer appreciates an on-time, dry paper. Overall it's a different job experience and might help if you need to work more than 1 job to get back on your feet since variety helps.

Wow, seems like I'm getting

Wow, seems like I'm getting screwed over! I just started my first route this morning. I bagged and delivered roughly 340 papers. Sunday will be even more. It took 2 hours to stuff the papers with ads and bag them, then nearly 3 hours to deliver. At first I was excited to make an extra $800 a month but when I do the math of my hourly rate, it's well below minimum wage. It's a 7 day a week job, I have to but the bags, plus use my own gas, then account for taxes. What a joke, I'm definitely going to need to get paid better if I'm going to wake up at 12:30 to be to the warehouse by 1am.

Thurs, 27/12/12 Delivered

Thurs, 27/12/12
Delivered newspapers for 10 months. In the beginning I made money because I had 6 routes (610 papers) @ .20 cents/paper, 1 day per week, $50-60 /month fuel, with 15 hours to deliver them. On all but 2 routes, the houses were close together with short driveways. The carriers were required to deliver to the front doors. Elastics $1.50 for 500 ish and bags $24.00 for 2000.

Great for the first two months. But then the delivery truck started showing up later and later. I had to continue to drop routes as time went on because I couldn't make the delivery deadline. Repeatedly late truck deliveries (because of the driver, not newspaper production issues) and management unable to resolve the problem has led me to give my notice with the papers.

That's my experience with the Ancaster Newspaper in Ontario Canada. Know too that most newspapers consider the carriers the low man on the ladder.

After retirement the Mrs. and

After retirement the Mrs. and I got a paper route in a rural town in Nevada. 250+ papers and a 38 mile route plus 12 miles to the drop off point and 8 miles back home. Our vehicle was a 2005 Grand Caravan, the one where the seats fold into the floor, lots of room for bins filled with newspapers. The first nite that 38 miles took almost 4 hours. Even though I new the town pretty well, everything looks different at night. Rural is right, no street lights and plenty of dirt roads. After a couple weeks my left arm got good and could toss a paper in the center of a driveway doing 35 mph. The customers that had tubes made for lots of starts and stops, hard on the car. Town driving was 19 mpg now it was barely 16 mpg. We started 3 weeks before Christmas so we printed a merry Christmas note introducing us with our cell phone number on it. We netted $500 in tips plus treats like gourmet popcorn over the holidays. We also got calls from people who wanted their paper is a certain spot an we did our best to accommodate them. After a month the route was down to 1 hour and 45 minutes, and since we rarely saw another car, I would blow thru stops signs like Kowalski in Vanishing Point and used the entire road on corners like a Formula 1 driver and never went over 2500 rpm. Gas mileage went to 17.5 mpg and we were still getting tips every pay period. We were making about $15 an hour and the checks were going into the bank account for our S-Corp but we soon discovered that the 1099 was in my name and my SSN not our EIN as they were supposed to do when we signed the contract. We asked them to change it and they said no. End of story. We quit and paid the 'I quit' penalty in the contract.
It was a lot of fun, as I do like watching the sky's at night, saw a shooting star every night and watching the moon rise at 4am. I do not miss being dinged $1.50 for a missing paper complaint that I knew was delivered but the wind blew it off their driveway into a ditch or getting there on time and just sitting there for an hour because the truck was late and then having to scramble to meet the contract dead line and dealing with the starts and stops and the muddy dirt roads when it rained.
It is a thankless job at times but there are good customers that will tip you because they know you have to put in that extra effort to deliver the paper while dodging drunks on Friday and Saturday nites and pulling into a drive thru drive way only to find the guy left his trailer there (a heart stopping moment).
In the end I do have an idea for a suspense novel. A paper carrier finds a brown paper bag filled with $20 bills in a tube. Takes the bag and stuffs the paper in the tube not knowing it's a drop off for a drug deal and from that point it could go anywhere.

My advice, if you have a car that get 30 MPG, it might be worth it, if your route has 10 drops per street, maybe if you have to detour a couple miles on a dirt road to deliver one paper. If your car only get's 17 mpg and weights 4400 pounds, you ain't making much money and you are better off auditioning for America's Got Talent. Hey we need a new Stevie Ray Vaughan and not another Steve Tyler (Tallirico) <--- grew up with that mutt head.