So recently I met a guy with a love for cars and we got to having a great conversation, since I was looking into my next vehicle to purchase in the near future. After a bit of chatting he got around to asking me what I did for work.
I told him that I drove as a driver for various companies and platforms such as Doordash and UberEats, which are my primary choices. What happened next was probably one of the most common myths that come up when talking about this stuff.
"Man, you probably have to spend $400 on gas just to make $600 right?"
This made me shake my head, and I get where this is coming from as he was a big fan of cars with higher quality gas prices or bigger gas tanks in general and use a lot of gas to get around.
Now while I think this was ignorant of him, I want to talk about some common expenses you will have as someone who is driving for any of these platforms and destroy any myths people may have spoke about to you about them.
My name is Joseph Mandracchia, I have been making money using driving apps on a full-time basis since mid-late 2018 and have completed over 7800 deliveries. It is my hope to impart some of my knowledge to you to help you succeed in the gig economy!
I want to make one more note that this is designed to be a master list and you don't need everything mentioned here to get started, though these are things you should consider when getting ready to hit the road for any of these apps.
I am also going as deep as possible for these things so we can not only bust some common myths but also level up your driver game so high, you get great ratings for your account and you won't even recognize the driver you once were.
Potential Expenses for your Vehicle
So let's start with the obvious expenses, and that is the expenses that come from your vehicle, because I think that is what most people are looking up right now.
With this section, some things are absolutely necessary all the time, some can add value to the experience and are less necessary, and some are things you are going to wish you had when you need them the most.
The Vehicle Itself
The first expense that you are going to absolutely need is a reliable vehicle to perform the regular tasks that come with being on these platforms. This goes for Rideshare, Food Delivery, Grocery Delivery, etc.
Wow what a revelation right? You need a reliable vehicle to be on these platforms. So helpful...
However, you should not use just any vehicle to drive for these platforms because there are some things people don't think about initially, which is absolutely vital for your success and experience in the gig economy.
Cars I would recommend using would fall under the categories of electric, hybrid, or notably gas efficient vehicles. You can also go with motorcycles, mopeds or scooters, bicycles, ebikes, pizza bicycles or in metro areas, your own two feet.
The next expense we need to talk about is probably the most frequent expense as a driver for these platforms and that is gas. This applies to cars, mopeds, and other vehicles you may use to deliver on these platforms that run on gasoline overall.
While gas prices are fluctuating, if you have a car that is gas efficient you should know roughly how much you need to spend per fill up and how much you could drive your car before you need to fill back up.
One of the most common myths of any of these platforms is that you need to spend a crazy amount on gas before you even make money and that's just nonsense. Unless you are driving a gas guzzler of a vehicle, you should never have that issue.
Emergency Repair Kit
When something happens on your car, whether that is a tire goes flat or the battery dies etc., you can absolutely call someone and you should, but that person may not have all the tools they need to get the car going again.
What every repair kit should include, though not limited to the following:
Properly inflated Spare Tire with wheel wrench and car jack
A multipurpose utility tool
Flashlight with spare batteries
Emergency Flares or Reflectors/Lights
Rope or Chain
This way if your repair/tow guy repairs your car for any reason or a family/friend that comes to help you out and they forget something, you got it covered.
Even better would be if you know how to do it yourself, somethings you need another guy and some not really.
Maintenance and Repairs
This was the biggest pain in the butt for me for a very long time because I had so many repairs for my car back to back for a while and it cost me a lot of money. This isn't normally a big expense, this was my big expense because of my car.
So when you need to have repairs done, it can be one of the most stressful things as a driver if you don't know who to work with. So make sure you work with a very trustworthy mechanic!
In the winter, you are going to need some specific tools in the event that it snows because you will need to clean off your car and driver safely.
While this may seem obvious to some, it amazes me how many people live in a place where it snows frequently in the wintertime and doesn't have winter gear available in their car.
The Winter Gear I would want in my car would include:
Sturdy ice scraper and snow brush
Small or collapsible snow shovel
Spare Gloves or winter clothing
This way when it does snow you have the tools you need to get your car out of a jam and back on the road in no time.
Cleaning Supplies and Equipment
The inevitable spill or crumbs in your car are going to happen, especially if you are driving for any of these driver apps. It's not a big deal to make a spill, what is important is being able to clean it up.
Now there is only so much you can do for your car immediately, but there are some things that you can keep in your car and have it available to you when you need to use it.
Things I would keep in my car are:
Portable cordless vacuum cleaner
Multipurpose Wipes or Cleaning Gel
Air Freshener (either hanging or spray works)
So while some of these would probably be best to be kept inside the home until they are necessary, I do believe there is some merit to keeping some of them on hand, especially if you don't want to leave stains.
Trash Can for your Car
Having a trash can for your car is not just for you, it is for people who potentially come into your car. This is going to be important for those who utilize rideshare companies as a primary source of income as well.
This is also considered to be preemptive to the trash that may or may not enter your vehicle. The floor of your passenger side of your car is not a trash can so get your own.
You don't need to buy trash bags for this, because the car sized ones are pretty efficient already. Just be sure not to throw out your grocery bags after you shop.
Back Seat Net
This is mainly for those who utilize ride share and prefer the person to sit in the back seat. Backseat nets is a good divider for those who just want to add some storage space in the back seat and add a divider from you to the person behind you.
I would not recommend this is you are having challenges in the customer service side of things but in most cases, this should be perfectly fine.
Dash Camera and Back-up Camera
So having some cameras set up for the inside of your vehicle is in my opinion one of the best investments you can make as someone who drives for work frequently.
Having a dash camera, can add security for your vehicle, see if someone is approaching your vehicle (police officer, robber, etc.) as well as record things in your car you would not be able to otherwise.
The back up camera would be important so you know what is going on behind you when you are backing out of a parking spot or your driveway. Just don't rely on it too much, and check your surroundings so you don't miss something by accident.
Rain Repellant Windshield Coating
The next thing on this is rain repellant for your windshield, this will prevent spots and other stains on your windshield so you can always see clearly through your windshield.
We have all been there before, it's raining hard, visibility is hard enough already and yet for some reason there is still this challenge with the rain no actually being wiped off your windshield. Sometimes even the wipers aren't cutting it.
Yes it is possible to just wait for the rain to subside, but for someone who is paid for the work they do and not for their time, such as those of us who are in the gig economy, we don't have time to wait for the weather to stop.
In fact, there are a fair amount of us that are actually bad weather chasers because we earn more in tips because it is raining.
So this is more for someone who is not in a starting point in their own area and needs to work on something from their laptop, like a blog post about potential expenses for workers in the gig economy 😏.
A power converter is one of those things that most cars don't have and in my opinion, a lot of them should start to do so. However, if your car doesn't already have this set up with your vehicle, you can pick one up online.
Driver Sign/Window Clings
For some platforms this is required, whereas other platforms it is not but having drivers signs and/or window clings can really help a driver in a rush. Especially for those who need to *ahem* make a parking spot.
Again, sometimes they are necessary and sometimes they aren't. Either way, I would recommend using the hazard lights just in case.
Delivery in Progress Sign
So with this, it is mainly for deliveries where you need to leave your car for a short period of time. Whether it's picking up food from a restaurant or dropping off a package to a home or apartment.
The best place for this is on your dashboard, so when an officer decides to approach your vehicle for your parking job, they understand why it there. I would also include your number on that sign so that if your car NEEDS to be moved, they can contact you to move it.
I would also recommend you locking the car so any dirty opportunists don't get any ideas.
Safety and Ratings Sign
This is mostly for those who use ride share platforms, who drive safely and can use some more ratings for their account. This is more important than you think because most people decide to just skip ratings and that sucks especially if you are trying to be better.
This is what marketers would call a "call to action" or how you would see YouTubers just go "make sure you like and subscribe and blah blah blah"
Again for rideshare mostly, but I can see this being useful for storage purposes. Having an attachable seat back can allow the person sitting in the back seat to store some of their personal items in the back seat.
This is similar to how in on airplanes have trays and compartments on the back of each seat, except not every vehicle has a television on the back of the seats.
This is one of the better purchases I have made since I have gone full time in gig work. Since you are going to be working in your car all day, you are going to want to remain comfortable and most car seats are challenging in this department.
Something for the lower back is more than enough, but there are other options out there. Just make sure that you don't mess with your body in a way that hurts you more than helps you.
This will save you so much time in the rare or hopefully never happens event that you end up needing your insurance card or some kind of identification for someone who asks for it. Whether that's a police officer or someone you ended up in an accident with.
Documents that you should always keep in your car and in this wallet include:
Proof of Insurance
Drivers license (if it is not in your personal wallet already)
Your personal Contact info as well as some other important contacts
Now in most cases, I keep my license in my wallet but everything else should be in there.
I usually recommend the contact info in case your phone is dead for whatever reason. Mainly services that can help you get your car back home, a repair shop or someplace that you can bring it to on a moments notice.
Almost no one remembers numbers anymore and personally I always find when I contact the family numbers that I call in an urgent situation, they never pick up especially from a number they don't recognize.
This is meant for rideshare drivers mostly, but not to say that people who don't use rideshare can't use it. I personally use it to keep the cash tips I receive so I can deposit all of it at a later time.
Steering Wheel Tray
This is mostly for those who spend a lot of their time on the road and need to take a few minutes to hop on a computer of sorts and get some other work done. I use this a lot to write articles, work on some side businesses and other things that I need to get done.
Sun Visor Organizer
Maybe I'm one of those people that just finds enjoyment in having large amounts of storage options but this is where I keep some writing utensils and other miscellaneous items I find useful at a moments notice.
Car Seat Covers
For those of us that want to spend less time cleaning your car seats every time you or someone else spills something, I recommend covers for your car seats. That way when something spills your seat is safe and you can just send your cover to the cleaners.
If you decide to do it yourself, just know that most seat covers are machine washable although not machine dryable, so be careful of that.
Potential Expenses for your Smart Phones and Devices
So now that we spoke quite a lot about what you need for your car, let's talk about what you will need for your smart phone and other devices you can use to utilize for your gig economy experience.
The Smart phones and Devices Themselves
So shocking I know, but bear with me for a second because this is a big deal, especially if you are one of those people who aren't starting in the gig economy because of their phone dying all the time.
The cellular device or smart phone you choose does have a great amount of weight in how well you can succeed. If you want to make money using technology, you need a quality device to run your systems on.
What kind of devices can you run these apps on?
So you can run some, if not all, of these apps on a quality smart phone or a tablet with location services and an unlimited data plan, for cost effective purposes.
There are a fair amount of Dashers who actually use a separate phone entirely and use their mobile hotspot that comes with their unlimited data plan.
Most of the necessary apps we are about to get into are available on both iPhone and Android, although some may be in beta. Doordash is beta on Android although is still very effective and functional.
Next, let's talk about apps because I think this is one of the most important parts of this article. You need quite a number of apps available to you if you are going to make money with any of these platforms effectively and consistently.
Now with that said, I don't mean just platforms of which you can make money because yes that is important but there is more to it than that. A full list of apps I would have available are:
A portfolio of gig platforms (food delivery, rideshare, grocery/goods delivery, etc.)
Public parking app if applicable
Some of these don't cost anything or have free versions of such, while some are the reason you make money in the first place and will help you with tax season.
For mileage tracker and expense trackers specifically, I would just opt in for the ones that have a monthly payment because at least that is also a write-off.
Cell Phone Service
Now for cell phone service, this area dependent on what has the best coverage in your area and that is super important for work reasons. However, regardless of the company you choose, I would recommend having an unlimited data plan.
This is going to save you money long term as you are using your car and your phone so often that you don't want to run out of data unexpectedly, and have to make a call to your phone company mid-shift because you are desperate.
So for a phone case you want something that is going to be durable and protect your phone but not too bulky to where it will then not be compatible to other things for your phone.
In that respect, I would be hesitant before buying a phone wallet. Most phone wallets are not compatible with the phone mounts that are sturdy enough to hold your your phone without unmounting itself from the mount or making the mount too heavy to remain where you put it.
With that said, I recommend having a strong mount with a case that has a slot for cards or just get a rubber card holder that sticks to the back of your phone to keep your cards in for gig economy purposes.
Hands Free Bluetooth Kit
As you know, it is against the law to text and drive and other forms of multitasking while driving as they can cause serious car accidents, which is all kinds of wrong and not good. So to prevent this I recommend a hands free Bluetooth kit.
This will allow people to accept your phone calls, that may or may not come in, while still being able to get to and from your destination. As all of us know, time is money and if you can save time this way, do it.
So there are quite a number of options out there for this, and I for one have had such a hard time finding one which will prevent the inevitable fall from the dashboard to the floor of your car in the event of a hard stop.
So with that said, I recommend using a mount that stays in your cup holder so that it is constantly stabilized and you won't have to wonder when your phone will fall.
If you are set on using your dashboard instead however, there is one that I liked that allows you to keep the phone sideways while keeping the phone stable and having a proper foundation established unto the phone mount.
Phone Charger and Charging Cables
So for this I recommend having both of them as separate parts, the port and the cable, so that way in the event that your charging cable is busted you won't need a whole new cable, you would just need to replace the part that broke.
All cables wear out over time, and this way you can ensure that you will at least save money for buying the one part separately as opposed to the whole thing.
So this is for those who needed to constantly charge some mobile device and they don't have the outlets available for them. This is also a great option for those you use a bike or moped to bring orders around.
Potential Expenses for your Regular Equipment
For this section, it is mainly for those of us on the delivery platforms, not for rideshare. We spoke about rideshare tools above and I don't think too much of this section is necessary for the equipment above.
Hot Bags, Catering Bags, and Pizza Bags
Some platforms do provide a decent bag, though I would get my own set of all of them from an alternative source, because in my experience and the experience of other drivers that I have spoken to, the bags provided by the platforms are low quality and can deteriorate.
While you can argue that it does happen to all bags, and with good care the life of the bag can be extended, some people have reported that their bags still lasted less than a year! Which is why I would recommend not using the ones provided by the platforms.
For this I think having 2 of each of these bags is more than enough and there isn't much of a need to add more than this. I would also be sure to either get new ones when the ones that get too old and worn.
Drink Holder/Drink Caddy
This is the most undervalued item on this list because of how much value I got from the one I bought. Gone are the days where I am concerned about the safety of my customers drinks in the flimsy cup holders provided by the restaurants I go to!
Even those customers who buy 10 drinks and expect you to be able to be able to juggle all of that to your customer without incident.
I would also recommend having 2 available with 4 slots specifically in case something happens to one of the disposable ones that might end making your trip harder.
Bike Bag and Safety Equipment
So if you decide to deliver for platforms that allow you to use a scooter to deliver, this is going to help keep you and your deliveries secured as you are riding around town.
Again I would opt for a bag that isn't from the platform so you know you have a quality bag, especially since in this case it will have direct contact with the elements.
As far as safety equipment, a helmet for starters and a bright jacket for evening deliveries. Other than that, I would look into your local laws and see what you truly need to have as far as safety equipment for motorized vehicles.
Potential Expenses for Snacks, Meals and Drinks
Okay, if you have ever driven in the gig economy long enough. You know you are going to have long days, some longer than others. So because of that you are going to get hungry and especially in food delivery and grocery delivery.
Now when you work in a restaurant where you are around food all day, you build a tolerance for the food you are making and because of that you end up not even wanting the food in the first place... this does not apply to food delivery for these platforms at all!
You are around all sorts of foods on a regular basis and because of that you end up smelling the delicious food that people order and get seriously and dangerously hungry very quickly.
For me, I know that I get super hangry and that's seriously dangerous for your mental and physical health, or at least mine.
Coffee or Caffeinated Beverage
So if you are on the road for a long period of time or even first thing in the morning, you need to have some coffee or some kind of caffeinated beverage, and there are two ways you can go about this.
You can buy from someplace, which can very well put you in the territory of the locations that would be super busy in those periods of time.
You can make it yourself at home, which will save you tons of money, and that is truly the goal here. You can also keep the coffee in a nice thermal bottle which can help keep the coffee hot.
Now I typically opt for energy drinks because it saves me time and a certain amount of money as opposed to going to a Starbucks.
I don't need to make it myself and I can just pop one open (not to mention that I like the taste so much better) but that isn't the popular opinion and can be dangerous for your health.
If you are going for a pre-workout, this can help you run all day and you won't need to use more than one a day. Just be careful because if you are not working out at all this can be dangerous for your health.
You can also keep pre-workout and shakes such as this in a thermal bottle as well to keep it cool.
Meal Bars/Power Bars and Other Snacks
So for meal bars and power bars, if you are super busy and need something to keep you from being too hungry this is a great option. Keeps you from being too hungry and can tide you over until you get a full meal.
Make sure whichever snacks you get and bring with you don't leave crumbs, the last thing you want is to mess up your car with your own food and not just your customers.
Potential Expenses for Personal Affects
Lastly, let's talk about somethings you should carry on your person that will help you make the most of what the gig economy has to offer.
If you are driving all day there is going to be a time where the sun ends up shining in your eyes and a visor is not going to cut it. For this, I recommend a pair of polarized sunglasses.
Some sunglasses are not polarized and yes they can help with the sun, however as far as helping you see on the road, you want to be sure the sunglasses are polarized so you don't end up dealing with ambient light or the sparkle and shine from glass, water or snow.
Gig Camera/Camera Glasses
This is mainly used for proving deliveries and security reasons, and is growing to be more and more necessary over time. There have been a long series of warnings the have went out to people for a customer not receiving their deliveries and yet they did get them.
If you want to protect yourself from those people, I would invest in one of these. Yes you can use the camera your phone, although with a quality camera, you can use this to record real-time conversations and prove you are doing the right thing as a driver.
I know that looking at a list like this, you can be very overwhelmed and almost believe that you shouldn't do it because of the upfront investment in your mind. Though I would like to just repeat my point I made earlier that this is to level up your gig work game, not start it.
You don't need any of this as a gig economy driver to get started. What I have wrote here is a master list to level up your already existing driving game.
Also some of these items are not even all that gig economy specific and can be used for other ventures, as well as just every day life and I hope you take the time to really consider using some of these things in your driving arsenal and make the most money you can.
With that said, thank you so much for taking the time to read this article! I hope you found some value and that you can apply and help you succeed in this gig economy!