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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!


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!!

Our family has done paper

Our family has done paper routes (walking routes) for more than 15 years. It has been a good experience over all. As many have pointed out, it is not a profitable venture. However, It is not a bad wage for a child and as and adult I find it is about the best exercise program I can find... Rather than paying a gym fee, I actually get paid a nominal fee - for exercising. Ok - it is only walking, but I take the dog with me so he gets exercise too. I generally walk about 1 hour each morning. Gets me up early for an early start each day too! Our kids have the benefit of learning responsibility and make enough to make it worth their time.

As the children get older and have more activities they are involved in, the parents have to pick up the slack more. I hope to be able to do this for a long time.

I used to work every weekend

I used to work every weekend delivering papers. My boss who owned the paper run had enough money to pay me and 3 other drivers 200$ every run, to fuel our trucks, and to do the required maintenance. Each of us would have to drive 200+ km's a night delivering 2000-3000 papers each. Owning a run can obviously be profitable if someone can afford to pay all that money to cover all these expenses and live in a nice big house.

I know many drivers who make

I know many drivers who make plenty of money every month delivering papers. You have to have the right route(s) to do it or you will get really frustrated, really fast.

I think customer density is the key to making money. If you have a lot of customers in a relatively small area, the route can work for you. If your customer base is really spread out making money will be difficult.

I'm 13 years old and looking

I'm 13 years old and looking into starting a paper route with my friend were riding our bikes so no gas and i was wondering how much i would make and how much the papers would cost.

Hi,My name is Destinee

Hi,My name is Destinee Galbreath and I'm looking forward to doing paper route,Yes I realize it says I have to be 13 to do paper route but,I'm 12 I seen on there that you have to buy your owe paper if I do just tell me the price per bag of paper

Thank You for your time sincerely,

Destinee Galbreath

I would say most paper

I would say most paper routes are not profitable at all. The average profit on any given route is between $4 and $5 per hour when calculating your operating expenses. Throw taxes into the mix and your profit is gone. Paper routes are among the last forms of slave labor.

I would like to know why we

I would like to know why we have to pay for a customer's compliant?? They deduct up to $20 per complaint, this amount is part of my gross income, therefore I have to pay tax on it. Does anybody knows what they do with the complaint's money.
Desperate carrier

Get this. The paper I

Get this. The paper I deliver charges $1 per complaint Mon through Sat, but on Sundays they charged $2. Now as we all know the paper cost more on Sundays BUT they double charge the price Mon-Sat & TRIPLE charge on Sun. Their excuse-they have to play for the gas for the skip driver to drive the paper out to the customer who clais they have a missing paper.....soooooo, the price of gas ony goes up on Sundays & slams back down on Monday. Some newspapers charge $5 per complaint. One woman I know has been delivering for 20 yrs & her newspaper company claims there are complaints & she found out the customers sometimes never called anything in.......scam scam scam, most of em are scams. I profit off of my route but not what I'm supposed to make. The charges for complaints are SCAMS, most carriers go along with it & have excuses & reasons why their paper charges but legally a lawyer would jump on it so fast you'd own that company by the end of the year. Can you say embezzlement?