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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!


$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.

Your blog is my favorite,

Your blog is my favorite, congratulates. Often I'll look here, a lot of information and nice site. Tom Davis

Sometimes it's good to

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

Very interesting, i like

Very interesting, i like this website.

I used to be a shortage

I used to be a shortage driver which means I had to supply papers for routes that needed extras. It was a lot of driving around the city (used company vehicle) and it was difficult to find the drop off location and map out the route. I left that job and after 4 years I went back to the same company and got a paper route very close to where I live. Most of it will be walking and the area is not too spread out. I will still need to park the Buick and store the papers while I deliver. Company will supply a bag and deliver the bundles to where I live. I am now familiarizing myself with the route in the dark because all papers must be delivered before 7 am. To begin I carry a waterproof flashlight and an easily readable list. Papers have to be kept dry and no burning the midnight oil for me.

I get paid $625 every two

I get paid $625 every two weeks. Takes about 2.5 hours to do, 7 days a week.

Not sure, I just started the job, but I should be able to deduct gas and car from my income tax

I do about $500 every two

I do about $500 every two weeks and I drive a Toyota Tercel which is excellent on gas and maintenance. $500 is not too bad and yes, all expenses go on the tax returns each year. That is where it really kicks in!

I'm getting paid 350 every

I'm getting paid 350 every two weeks not including what I've spent in gas. Not worth it. It was cool for about a day, but my sleep cycle is what is really really really not cool.