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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!


Are all tips, whether sent

Are all tips, whether sent through the newspaper office or sent directly to me, taxable? This is not a tip-dependent job so what are the rules for taxing of tips?

This is a very good writeup.

This is a very good writeup. I will speak from my experience.

You will not get rich, nor will you make a whole lot of money unless you manage your route properly. The latest poster said she walks and this is the absolute best mode of transportation to use on a paper route if you plan on maximizing your profit! With walking, you take longer to do the route, but you don't have the fuel expense. Fuel can easily run you into the ground on a route that is really spread out.

If you manage supplies after that, you can make pretty good money for the time required. Look for supplies from other places besides from your supervisor. I found bags and rubber bands at uline and they were much cheaper than what my supervisor was charging me. I had a route with 600 papers on it so I went through bands and bags pretty quickly.

How is it legal for a

How is it legal for a newspaper to sell you supplies to use for their business? How is it legal for a newspaper to deduct insurance fees and not give the carrier any info on the insurance carrier? If I am an independent contractor shouldn't I be responsible for my own insurance? Is it really legal to charge a carrier for complaints when there is no realistic way to prove that the complaints are legitimate? For example, papers can be stolen.

How is that so and they told

How is that so and they told me to give them that infomation to get the Job.I'm lost

The supplies aren't being

The supplies aren't being forced on the carriers, at least most of them. As for the complaints, that alone is a hige scam whether one wants to believe it or not. I've been delivering newspapers for 5 yrs & believe me they charge carriers money for "missing" papers blindly without truly checking into the claims, on top of that they will charge carriers money even if it's a windy day & the papers blow if we can control mother nature. There are alot of things they do that are NOT in the contract, unfortunately many carriers cannot financially afford to fight any of it for fear of being terminated, especially in this economy, but legally they do alot of things they're not allowed to do. By law an "indepdndant contractor" is someone who also sets their own hours & the price of the product they sell, most newspaper companies won't even let their carriers do this, they get away with the "independant contractor" title for tax purposes, many have been trying to fight this as well with no results. My current route is a little over 113 houses (small route believe it or not), no collections and it's delivered between 2am & 6am, when it's dark, so no clue how some are able to wal the route, that would not only be tedious & take forever but dangerous as well, not many of us have the luxury of a daytime delivery. I was just hit up for a 1,000 paper route for only $80/week, they can forget that. What I spend on gas & supplied I'm getting to the point where I can almost no longer afford to do this, who ever heard of not being able to afford to work. It's the last legal sweatshop for adults & carriers certainly get no respect.

This is the best info I have

This is the best info I have seen in a long time!!! Alynn74, I'm going to have other carriers in my area read what you posted. We ARE independent contractors, but we MUST get the paper delivered by 5am or we get fined. And I'm reading my contract ... no where in the contract does it say anything about the hours of delivery! You guys and gals have opened my eyes to a lot with these posts!

Thanks for what you all do!

First of all, it is YOUR

First of all, it is YOUR business when you deliver newspapers. You probably signed an "Independent Contractor Agreement" or something similar. It should state somewhere in there that you are NOT an employee but an Independent contractor. Also, anytime you receive a 1099 for taxes, you are being paid as a self-employed individual. That is why they can sell you supplies to run YOUR business. If they are MAKING you buy supplies from them, you can sue them and claim that makes your status an employee, not an independent contractor. As an INDEPENDENT contractor (self-employed), you have the freedom to do as you wish with your business as long as you stay within the guidlines of the contract you signed.

I work as a newspaper

I work as a newspaper carrier and let me tell you there is some sneaky things going on this business. For one when you sign a contract to deliver newspapers, the newspaper managers will tell you a pay per paper around .08 to .30 cents depending on how difficult to deliver or how well the area pays. They will give you a price and tell you "oh thats all we can pay for that route take it or leave it" but the truth is they are lowering the price from what the previous independant contractor was getting paid. I have seen this before and I have seen what other people were getting paid for routes similar to mine in other areas and let me tell you the newspaper managers will lie straight to you face and tell you, you are getting a good deal. Also why does the newspaper charge you for rain bags or any product that is needed for the route? Its their product don't you think they would want to protect it and help you out instead of putting all the cost on you? Think again. Newspapers claim they are losing money but if the newspaper subscription customers buy is paying for your wages alone then the newspapers are pocketing the advertising money they get. So really they aren't losing money but they aren't making as much money. This is considered them losing money. I could go on and on but the last thing I have to say is don't ever get into an auto accident delivering newspapers because contrary to what people may think newspaper delivery is excluded when it comes to auto insurance claims and thats a fact. Read your insurance exclusions and you will see. What you really need is a commerical insurance which could run you at least 500 dollars a month minimum to cover the costs of an accident. So if you ever get into an accident you better have a good excuse and hide your papers or don't let your insurance company find out or your out of luck and your insurance company will probably drop you.

You are correct with the

You are correct with the insurance! I was in an accident when I ran into a black bear. Well, I told my auto insurance company the truth and they denied my claim. They said it would have been covered had I had commercial insurance and delivering papers, but my personal insurance policy does not cover delivering papers. I was MAD!! How can I afford commercial insurance at the rates the paper company is paying you as an independent contractor?

You raise great points. My

You raise great points. My final straw was they would never let me purchase my own supplies. I could get bags, rubber bands, etc much cheaper than they were forcing me to buy from the paper. I had to have perfect deliveries to turn a profit and buying cheaper supplies would have helped a lot!!