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Make Money or Move On!

Paper Routes - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Paper routes sure have changed and the purpose here is to expose the good and bad parts of a modern day paper route.

First, the good.

  • Money - Nothing like making some extra cash! If you are looking for some extra cash, no matter how much it is, a paper route could be perfect for you!
  • Time - Not much time involved with rolling and tossing news papers.
  • People - You get the opportunity to meet a lot of people at 3 in the morning. You will be surprised at what everyone does at their "other" jobs.
  • Tips - A few of your customers will leave tips for you. This is a great moral booster and wallet booster. Make sure you continue to take care of these beautiful people!

Next, the bad.

  • Money - If you need a lot of money, a paper route is not for you! You will not get rich with a paper route. Your income from the route will act as a supplement at best to a 9-5 income.
  • Pay Practices - A question received quite often about paper routes is "how are paper routes paid?" Well, the distributor sells you the paper at a slightly reduced rate. You in turn sell it to your customers at a slightly higher rate, producing a profit of a few cents to as high as $0.25 per paper. Well, you are buy and delivering the papers on credit for a delivery period which is normally 2 weeks or 1 month. At the end of the delivery period, you should receive a summary of your monies owed to the distributor (papers, complaints, and supplies), deliveries, and payments from your customers. What you will ALWAYS see on the summary is the the total money you owe the distributor. They take their money before you see any money on your paycheck! Next you will see the total number of papers you delivered during the period. Wow, you never knew you worked so hard! Then you will see the total money collected from your customers (subscription payments and tips). If you had any customers pay late, or not pay at all, your check will suffer! You just delivered them a paper for 2 weeks or a month for FREE! You already paid for the paper because the distributor takes their money first. Now it is up to you to somehow get YOUR money from that deadbeat customer. Not good.
  • Distributing Companies - Well, the distributing company can be great, or they can be terrible. We have not noticed any middle ground. If your distributing company is great, there is a well managed substitute list, thorough investigations into customer complaints, pay for your route once you leave (yes, some pay you for moneys collected by people who paid late and that money is supposed to come to you). If your company is terrible, they can't help you with reliable substitutes, they are slow to disconnect non-paying customers, they are quick to charge you for customer complaints, they don't give gas allowances ... in general, they make sure they don't do anything that would help make your route any easier.
  • Time - If you hate getting up at 3am, a paper route is NOT for you. Stay in the bed. You will surely lose money due to customer complaints if you are not into delivering a dry, neat paper.
  • Taxes - Most carriers are paid via 1099 so you are responsible for paying taxes on your earnings. If you have a "main" job, the paper route will surely reduce your tax refund, or increase the amount you owe the government. Be sure to keep all your receipts related to your paper route to reduce your tax burden.


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