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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!


Great info! I found your web

Great info!
I found your web page on google and it seems to have what I've been looking for. Here's another source that worth a look about this also. Thanks for sharing!


This is a very good article

This is a very good article about paper routes! Hopefully folks can get good direction from this to see if a paper route in their area is a good job for them. Thanks!

I've delivered newspapers in

I've delivered newspapers in the past, for about 13 years. As with most paper route sales, they have dwindled extensively, over the last several years.

I started out with one locally here, in the early 1990's. It wasn't too bad, until my subscribers started to quit. (no fault of my own) Most of the routes over the years with this newspaper company, were motor routes. What use to be a pretty compact motor route, (less than 40 miles a day) turned into combining other routes, (greater than 75-80 miles a day) to make it "so-called" profitable. (which it wasn't)

Can you still make money at this, with another newspaper company. (you sure can!!)

W/O going into the "Nitty Gritty," of the second newspaper company I worked for, when I moved out of the area, these are some quick "High Points" to consider. Some have already been mentioned. (good job!!)

These are mainly motor route suggestions...
1) Go with current carrier and make a tape of the route, with a current (fresh) route list as well. This is a godsend at 2:00a.m. when it is pitch dark, and you're trying to drive your vehicle through a motor route. It is also much safer, if you're out "In the Boonies," and deer are running all over the place. (AN THIS WILL HAPPEN...GUARANTEED!!!) Starting and stopping a tape, is much easier, than starting your car in a ditch!!
2 Fuel efficient vehicle is a must. Buy one now, because you won't, if you have already contracted yourself to a motor route, and have NOT purchased a fuel efficient vehicle yet. DO NOT PROCRASTINATE ON THIS ONE!!
3) Know the basics on how to maintain your vehicle. It's amazing how much money you'll save, by learning how to change your oil, and replace brake pads. DO NOT PROCRASTINATE ON CHANGING YOUR OIL, OR YOU'LL REGRET IT!! There's a lot of dirt, gravel dust etc. on your route. Nothing worst than "Sandpaper Like" dust, getting into, and accumulating in your engine. Keep your oil clean and fresh!! This, in combination of saving $70-85$ an hour from your local mechanic, can give you much bigger profits, in doing this stuff yourself.
4) This simple one, will make all the difference in the world, no matter how crappy the route is...

START AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE!! Be there, before the truck driver drops off your bundle. The more time you have in doing the route, the less gas, less brake "Wear and Tear" being used. (not to mention, saying hello to that 12 point buck on Hwy 58 at 75 miles an hour. Play it safe, and drive slow.(er) You'll be amazed, how much resources you'll save, by simply obeying this (100% effective) rule.

5)This can be a little difficult to some, but it is a neccessity. FIND A RELIABLE SUB, AND PAY THEM WELL!! I always did, and it kept my sub honest/loyal to me. It also kept my District Manager from charging me $3.00 per paper, because he/she had to climb out of bed, and do my route. (or worse, come from another route they have already done, in the middle of the night. OUCH!!) Remember, you're under a contract, and you don't get any sick days off, as opposed to being an employee at your regular job. COVER YOUR BUNS, IF YOU ARE UNDER THE WEATHER!! Your district manager MAY be able to help you on this one. BUT REMEMBER... HIS/HER JOB IS NOT FINDING A SUB FOR YOU. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS!!

6) I love animals, but find out from the current carrier, if there are any aggressive dogs on your route. Remember, Fido MAY NOT have the same disposition during the day, as he does at 3:00 in the morning. (yes, dogs are VERY territorial, if you haven't found that out by now)

I'll stop here, as there are other good points, already covered.

With a little preparation and planning, you CAN make a few bucks at this. And I found it pretty fun as well!!

Good Luck!!


im sorry but using a compact

im sorry but using a compact car or other high mileage vehicle can be a recipe for disaster. Buying a new car for sake of newspapers isn't cost effective either.. if you buy a vehicle just for newspapers it should be a beater. most cars are not designed to carry the kind of load newspapers add to the car. its abusing it and you'll go through transmissions even driving it properly in L. I had to pay 1800 (and that's a dirt cheap price) for a transmission rebuild after only 20k miles of newspapers, and I was using a full sized sedan.

$500 is not too bad and yes,

$500 is not too bad and yes, all expenses go on the tax returns each year. That is where it really kicks in!

I used to deliver newspapers

I used to deliver newspapers as a full time job. For about 3 years I managed to have 2 routes and at one point I had 3 routes for about six months. I managed to bring in about $450 a week with two routes working about two hours a day, 7 days a week (about 4 hours on Sundays). Plus you get tips on top of that which were usually between $20 and $60 a week. When I had 3 routes (which I don't recommend) I made about $650 a week plus tips (which wasn't bad since I was only working about 3 1/2 hours on weekdays.
I will definitely say that it is important to get a "good" route (ie. motor route, close to home, compact delivery area). About two years ago I got a large daily motor route that paid $350 per week, which I delivered for 8 months. The trade off on that was that the route took between 2 and 2 1/2 hours to deliver weekdays and the milage on the route itself was about 85 miles. And routes that pay that much are rare and usually have a lot of "milage" costs tied to them. If you have a good, reliable car that gets good gas milage though, you can do very well with it.
The bottom line is find out as much as you can about a route as you can. Are customers "carrier collect" or office pay? Office pay is preferable and is becoming much more common, which means more money paid directly to you from the newspaper. Map out the route and drive it before you accept it. If everything is acceptable to you and you can hack getting up between 3 and 5 AM every day, you can bring in an extra $150 to $200 per week for as little as 1 to 2 hours a day.

I get paid $1,550 a month

I get paid $1,550 a month and it takes me 4hrs a night 6 days a week. That's around $15/hr minus fuel ($175 @ $3/gal) and supplies are maybe $10-15 a month. Great pay for the amount of time it takes.

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Sometimes it's good to

Sometimes it's good to contrast what you like with something else. It makes you appreciate it even more.

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