We know you don’t live under a rock, so you’re aware of a scary fact of life: the cost of driving is going up. Worse yet, expenses such as gas, food, and other basics are slated to keep escalating. While this is very much the reality, there’s no reason to allow rising prices to keep you off the road.
In this article, we’ll go through some facts about what’s going on and why, but we’re not going to pontificate and whine about it – there are ways to maximize your earnings in the face of any kind of economic weather. We’re hitting you with four hacks that will let you earn more no matter how much costs go up. Here’s what we’ll cover:
- The whats and whys behind the rising costs of driving
- How companies are helping
- Hacking your way out of the hole
- Driving strategy
- Smooth economic moves
- Up your game to get more tips
- Shuffle over to a side hustle
- Keeping your head above water
The whats and whys behind the rising costs of driving
If media coverage of the rising price of gas, food, and other items isn’t enough, surely your recent experience reveals that you’re paying more for your purchases. Drivers everywhere are watching their take-home pay evaporate due to higher prices at the pump, at food stores, and elsewhere.
According to March 30, 2022 data from AAA, the average price of regular gasoline has risen 32.4 percent since this time last year. (To learn more about why, check out this Gridwise blog post.) And unfortunately, rising fuel prices are not all we have to contend with.
The costs of insurance and vehicle maintenance are also much higher than they were a year ago. Insurance companies, like most operations, face a rise in the cost of doing business. It’s no surprise that they’ll be passing the extra burden on to their customers, namely, us drivers.
In a February 2022 article, Bankrate cites the following reasons for upping the prices of premiums:
- Supply chain disruptions
- Labor shortages
- Changing driving habits (return to pre-pandemic driving patterns)
It looks like we all need to prepare for when those auto insurance policies come up for renewal this year.
Vehicle maintenance is another driver necessity that’s going up in price. Have you stopped by to see your favorite mechanic for regular service, inspection, or repair lately?
First, you’ll likely be waiting longer than usual to get your vehicle scheduled.
A repair tech shortage has struck the industry, according to this recent Forbes article. The reasons behind the thinner population of skilled mechanics are waves of retirement and resignations due to the pandemic. Most likely, that “cost of doing business” factor also plays into the high cost of parts, as does the supply chain disruption.
Speaking of the supply chain, the price of food is rising, too – and not just in the United States. Global food prices have risen 20.7 percent this year so far, according to statistics from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, reported by the New York Post.
Looking at all this, it’s easy for a driver to get depressed. After all, Uber driver pay and Instacart shopper pay can only go so far to cover costs like these. How can you possibly keep your net earnings up in the face of all these financially draining factors?
How companies are helping
In an effort to help drivers cope with rising fuel costs, Uber added a gas surcharge to fares in mid-March, and was the first company to do so. Since then, others have followed suit.
Lyft tacked on a surcharge similar to Uber’s, as did Instacart. Meanwhile, DoorDash, Grubhub, and some other food delivery companies have taken a different approach. They are offering bonuses for drivers who deliver most, as well as a cash-back program drivers can cash in on at the pump.
Although these efforts might offer a sliver of help, there’s no doubt that drivers are going to need more. There’s no sign of soaring prices retreating in the foreseeable future, so drivers who want to earn more will need to make major changes.
Hacking your way out of the hole
There’s no reason to wallow in the misery of rising prices. There’s a lot you can do to change the equation and get your bank balance back to where it needs to be. Here are four hacks to get you going.
Hack #1: Driving strategy
So many of our friends and relatives seem to think making a living at gig driving is as simple as jumping into your vehicle and heading out – which, as we all know, is far from the truth. Every successful gig driver knows you need to have a good driving strategy. There’s a lot of tactical effort that goes into a high-quality strategy, so let’s look at the components that will do you the most good.
Track your mileage as well as your earnings
Everyone looks at the bottom line; e.g., “How much have I made so far on this shift?” But the figure flashing on your app’s screen doesn’t tell the whole story. You need to know how many miles you’ve driven for your apps, for two important reasons:
- To see how much you make per mile, and
- To deduct your annual mileage from your income, and reduce your taxes.
This Gridwise article offers more tips and tricks to help you keep your tax bill down. It also shows you that if you want the best Uber mileage tracker, or slickest DoorDash mileage tracker, you need Gridwise. Here’s what it can do:
Monitor your earning trends
When you examine how much you’re making, week over week and month over month, you can see how profitable your business is. Moreover, you can tweak your strategy to ensure that you maximize your effectiveness and your earnings.
Keeping track of these facts and figures isn’t that easy – unless you use Gridwise.
When you sync your driving apps with Gridwise, you get:
- Weekly earning reports that show where you’ve driven and how much you’ve made for all the services you drive for.
- The ability to go back in history to find out how much you made in the past, predict seasonal trends, and base your budget on what you can expect to earn during different time periods.
Use the art of multi-apping to cash in on bonuses
In an effort to get as many drivers working as they can, the companies are offering all sorts of incentives. Take advantage of this situation by keeping a close eye on what bonuses are out there, and then jump on them when they come up. For instance, if Lyft is offering incentives for new drivers, and you’re normally on Uber, switch it up for a week and collect the extra cash.
In the same vein, if the food delivery companies show more generosity with support for higher fuel costs, try that out and see how it goes. You can keep doing this to get the most out of each company as offers come up.
Gridwise can be invaluable for this multi-apping strategy, too. All your earnings, for every app you use, are consolidated in concise and colorful graphs like these:
With Gridwise, it’s super easy to see how your Instacart or DoorDash driver pay compares to what you get from your other apps. When you make Gridwise part of your driving strategy, you’ll see how much you’re earning, and which app is giving you the most cash for your efforts.
Hack #2: Slash your expenses
We’ve already acknowledged how hard it’s become to keep up with costs. Now, let’s look at what we can do to keep them under control. Of course, paying for the expenses that keep your gig business rolling is not an option – but there are steps you can take to keep costs down. Let’s look at some that are obvious, and others we want you to learn about.
Save on gas
There are ways to save on gas even when you’re not at the pump, such as avoiding hard acceleration when you don’t need to zip around so fast. You’ll also save your brakes, not to mention your passengers’ nerves, if you drive with the goal of giving a smoother ride.
When it’s time to fill up, though, you’re going to need even more help, and we don’t mean the family credit card. Here’s something that will definitely be there for you when you have to pay at the pump.
This gas discount deal, in partnership with GasBuddy, saves you cash at a time when you need it most. Join for free and automatically save 2 cents per gallon, then work your way up to saving 25 cents per gallon on each fill-up. Gridwise Gas works like a credit card, and is accepted at up to 95 percent of service stations nationwide, so it’s easy to find places where you can save.
And, if you join Gridwise Plus, you automatically get a 10-cent per gallon discount on up to 50 gallons per month. Simply check the GasBuddy app for discounts before filling up, go to the service station to do your thing, and the rest is automatic.
Minimize repair and maintenance costs
You drive – a lot. Your mechanic can tell by looking at your vehicle, and that’s why you can’t afford to not get your car the care it needs. Smooth-running vehicles get timely and complete vehicle maintenance. And, as we noted earlier in this post, costs are going up. You need a discount program you can depend on, which is why Gridwise offers you a special partnership.
With this deal for Gridwise drivers, you get from 10–40 percent off repair and maintenance costs. You can choose from thousands of auto service centers. The app lets you find shops in your area and compare them to ensure you’re getting the best price. When you do all this, then apply the discount, those “spa days” for your vehicle won’t feel like a big splurge.
Even if you do everything possible to save money, you can still get stuck with supersized repair bills – and if that happens, you won’t be driving at all. That’s why there’s also a way to protect yourself from unexpected and much bigger expenses.
This great Gridwise partnership can help protect you from a wallet-crushing blow when you encounter major repairs. Gridwise + ForeverCar provides you with a protective policy at a 44% discount on a vehicle service plan.
Don’t let food and drink expenses creep up on you
We’ve all got to eat, of course, and drivers also need to stay hydrated. It’s tempting to pick up all the snacks we like to indulge in at the local bodega or other convenience store, but with the way food costs are exploding, that’s not the best idea. Instead, consider …
- Packing a homemade sandwich instead of buying burgers and fries;
- Buying snacks in bulk so you can save and almost never run out of pretzels and nuts;
- Filling up your water bottle with a gallon jug you keep in the trunk;
- Picking up beverages you like at a discount, and keeping extras with you.
Who knows? If you become more conscious about the snacks and beverages you imbibe while on the road, your wallet might not be the only beneficiary of this healthy change.
Be smart about insurance
Insurance may seem like an expense you can live without, but it isn’t. You need coverage for those times when (often unexpected) things happen that affect your health or your livelihood.
Insurance costs vary widely, so do some research and put together a package that works for you. Gridwise has insurance plans that cater to drivers. They cover all that drivers need and can be obtained for a very low price. For instance, with Gridwise Dollar Benefits you can choose from …
No-cost life insurance. Get up to $10K of life and AD&D insurance just for signing up. Then, you can pick and choose from affordable plans like these, starting at only $1 per week:
- Telemedicine: A $0 copay and unlimited virtual doctor’s visits, available 24/7.
- Dental coverage: Dental procedures can be costly, and this policy saves you from 20 to 50 percent on most of them.
- Vision insurance: Big discounts on everything from exams and eye care to slick eyewear.
- Medical coverage for accidents: After a major wreck, you could have major doctor bills. This program gives you $1,000 for medical expenses and deductibles to help you hold it all together.
- Roadside assistance: Sometimes you need a tow, a tire change, battery service, fuel delivery, and help when you’re locked out of your car. This policy covers it all so you can feel safe and protect yourself from unexpected expenses.
- Phone protection: It’s no joke – for drivers, our phone is our life. Get coverage on up to three devices for damage and theft.
- Teletherapy: Drivers have a lot to stress about, too. This policy offers weekly 30-minute teletherapy visits with a $0 co-pay.
- Life insurance: Add on to the no-cost plan to make sure your loved ones have everything they need should you leave this life.
- AD&D insurance: If you have a catastrophic accident, you or your family members need emergency cash. This policy offers $20,000 of coverage.
- Critical illness insurance: Should a critical illness strike and make work impossible, you get $2,500 cash for covered illnesses.
These low-cost policies have a high impact on your level of protection, can save you money, and offer you peace of mind. Read more about Gridwise Dollar Benefits here.
Hack #3: Use your tools and hone your skills
You know it and we know it – gig driving is not just about sitting behind the wheel. There are things drivers do that make this job part skill and part creativity, and taking these aspects seriously will help you boost your earnings.
Going that extra mile applies to rideshare and delivery drivers, too. There are steps you can take to stand out from the rest of the fleet, improve your customers’ experiences, and pump up your ability to earn tips. Some of these suggestions involve small investments, which will definitely pay off. Others … well, they just happen to be free.
Rideshare drivers can …
- Be courteous and engaging: Gauge a customer’s penchant for conversation, honor it, and if they want to talk, have a friendly exchange.
- Open doors and carry bags: If you notice someone struggling to balance a baby and several grocery bags or a suitcase, put the car in park, get out, and lend a hand.
- Offer amenities: Give your passengers the option to have some water or a light snack while they’re in your car.
- Cater to customer tastes: Ask riders what kinds of tunes (if any) they like to roll with. Inquire about their temperature preferences, too. Then, give the people what they want.
- Offer ideas: If a customer seems conflicted about choosing the best place to eat or have a few drinks, offer up your knowledge of the local scene.
Food and package delivery drivers can …
- Be a human thermos. Keep hot things hot and cold things cold by using the right bags, boxes, and other equipment.
- Use compact crates and extra boxes to protect packages from being damaged.
- Use a dolly or small cart to easily deliver multiple packages or heavy loads.
- Communicate! If you’re stuck in traffic, can’t find an item you were supposed to bring in the grocery load, or the restaurant is several minutes behind, let your customer know. They’ll be glad you did and are likely to make sure you get a tip for your trouble.
Additional free help
Find the hot spots to work and the busiest times of day with Where to Drive and When to Drive from Gridwise. You really need these features now that you have to make every mile you drive more profitable.
Hack #4: Shuffle over to a side hustle
If you take the advice we’ve offered so far, you’re bound to earn more and save on expenses. But … if you want to make even more cash, there are ways to do it without driving. You don’t have to work yourself to death to keep up with a side hustle, either. Many give you a chance to set yourself up with every freelancer’s financial fantasy: passive income.
- nUVo is a high-tech way to keep the air in your car fresh and up to 99 percent germ-free. This innovative company has partnered with Gridwise to help you earn as much as $500 per month simply for referring your customers. Get more details on this when you click on the “Offers” tab in the Gridwise app.
- Get money just for offering your opinion and testing products with American Consumer Opinion (ACOP). Sign up through Gridwise and get started right away.
- Got extra space? Neighbor puts you in touch with people who’ll happily pay you to store their stuff. From an extra car in the garage to a closet full of NIB Star Wars figures from the ‘90s, you can let your spare stashing space make money for you while you do … whatever else you want.
- With Play Octopus you’ll earn money while you drive. Rideshare customers will dig gaming – and maybe even win prizes – while you safely whisk them to their destination. You get cash rewards and referral bonuses; and when you help people have more fun, you may get bigger tips.
- There’s one more sure way to earn extra money. When you’re not using your car, rent it out to someone else. With Gridwise Rental, you can earn up to $720 per month by renting out your car.
Keeping your head above water
Now that you’ve learned about all these great ways to cut back costs and boost your gig driving earnings, maybe you won’t feel so upset over the economy’s ups and downs. Using smart strategies, multi-apping, saving on necessities, and considering side gigs can definitely help you keep your head above water, even in times like these, when it feels like we’re all treading for our lives in the deep end.
Whatever you do, be sure to take advantage of the numerous benefits available to you through Gridwise. In these tough times, it’s a resource you literally can’t afford to be without.