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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!


They deduct the amounts for

They deduct the amounts for complaints and report your Net pay as if it was never part of your earnings.

They do NOT.... the amount

They do NOT.... the amount they report on the 1099 is before all the penalties and charges are taken out. They report the gross before everything they take out.

I have done my motor route

I have done my motor route (400 cusotmers-about 20 early morning hours per week) since secrets..dependability means good tips! I drive a diesel mercedes fueled with filtered fry oil scavenged from local restaurants (no fuel costs)...get a compact development type of neighborhood (not rural) I have nearly 10 customers per your own brakes and oil changes...and ask customers to recycle 'supplies'. And look forward to christmas (I can plan on about 5 grand!)

You should be making more

You should be making more than that, you should be making minimum wage & have benefits and not have to resort to putting fry oil in your car. After driving in blizzards, rainstorms and hurricanes, dealing with drunk drivers in the dark early mornings, walking in the ice and snow drifts, being out there 7 days a week 365 days a year with no days off - a newspaper carrier deserves benefits and a higher wage along with the privilege to be designated an "employee". Some school bus drivers work less hrs than we do for a less physical job and get more pay. This is America 2012, why are we accepting this? Why are we letting this happen. This is the type of working conditions that resulted in legal changes in the early 20th century yet we're told because we're independant contractors we cannot form a union or be entitled to anything.....why do we continue to accept this excuse? Face it, we are being treated like crap, physically and financially. If anything like this happened in a working environment it'd be on the news faster than you could say "scam". We are constantly being taken away from family on hoildays, many of us get very little sleep, we are underpaid & overworked and until there is a mass protest over this nothing will change, we will continue to be taken advantage of as suckers. I am one of those suckers as I need the extra income for food & the basics but it's getting increasingly difficult for me across the board, I STILL cannot buy groceries yet I get a check every two weeks with a whopping $42 every TWO weeks for gas, whoop de doo.

wow, you're lucky. I don't

wow, you're lucky. I don't get any reimbursement for gas.

i just started doing the

i just started doing the newspaper job. When you get gas do u keep the reciept to report it for tax reduction even though its cash or credit?

Gas isn't the only expense of

Gas isn't the only expense of driving a car. Take the standard mileage expense defined by the IRS, you get a lot more that way. its impossible to keep up with individual receipts.

yes keep your

yes keep your receipts.However there is another way you can itemize your gas. At the end of the year and when tax time comes around. You can average your mileage for your vehicle with your tax preparer. You are given the option to use itemizing each gas receipt or just average. The average is much better since it will take tons off your tax. However what is required is for you to mark your mileage on record at the beginning of the year. Then you must MEASURE in miles..from the moment you start delivering to the moment you end your paper route.These miles are miles you are legally and actually using! By law, you cant use miles going to the paper warehouse or pickup area. Only the actual miles you are engaged in business with.My parents route actually used 75 miles per day. Eventually it adds up and most routes aren't taxed heavily since at the end of adjusting taxable aint much for the gov or local governments to tax you.

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