One of the biggest and most frequent expense of any kind of driver in the gig economy is gas. You need it to run the vehicle you are driving, and unless you are driving an electric vehicle this can add up very quickly.
However, there are ways to save money on your gas expenses and while this may be for the purposes of the gig workers of the world, it can really apply to anyone whether you drive to work or not.
So in this article, I am going to talk about how to make the most of your gas expense from spending money to fill up to using the gas on a regular basis.
My name is Joseph Mandracchia, I have been working full-time with the gig economy since 2018 and have completed over 7900 orders and deliveries across several different platforms and pay models.
It is my hope to impart some of my knowledge and experience unto you to help you in your pursuit of success within this gig economy!
Disclaimer: I am not a Financial advisor, business advisor, tax expert or legal expert. This is not advice on your finances, business, taxes or legal decisions. This is just what I have done in my life and what I have found effective for me in my experience.
Cash Back Deals
Let's start with this subject, not only because it is one of my favorite subjects but because it is important to have this available to you to reduce your overall expenses. This is also going with the assumption that you are responsible with debt and credit cards.
So with this I am telling you now, if you aren't responsible with debt and your finances, skip this and move on. If you think you can be responsible, let's talk about cash back deals.
Now there are a couple of types of cash back deals that I like to use when fueling up my car:
GetUpside, a mobile app where you can get cash back for buying gas, groceries and restaurants at certain locations.
Checkout 51, a mobile where you can get cash back for gas, shopping online as well as in-store.
Bank Of America's Cash Rewards Credit Card, which you have the option to set this up for 3% cash back on gas.
GetUpside was an absolute game changer for people who were doing any kind of driving for the gig economy. So what you do, when you fill up on gas you take a picture of the receipt and you get cash back based on the deal at the participating gas station.
For Example, let's say you went to an Exxon station on the app, and they had a deal for 10 cents a gallon cash back, and you get 13 gallons of gas, you just made $1.30 back. On the surface it doesn't seem like much but it really does add up quick for gig workers.
Once you get $15 built up, you can cash it out for a gift card or you have it sent to your PayPal account, which is what I do.
Checkout 51 is very similar and more established than that of GetUpside, while they do have a greater variety of options with participating gas stations the cashback is not as much as GetUpside, so keep that in mind before using their systems.
Also Checkout 51 has better shopping deals than gas deals which is to be expected from the name, although I would still take the opportunity to cash in on the free money.
After you built up $20 in your account, you can request a check and it will be mailed to you! There is currently no form of direct deposit or Paypal partnership but there may be in the future.
All you have to do is upload a receipt with a credit or debit card purchase of gas, upload the receipt to both of these apps, and in a day or two receive a small cash back amount based on the amount of gas you purchased.
Bank of America Cash Back Rewards Credit Card
With the Cash Back rewards credit card from Bank of America, you can not only build your credit score, but you can receive 3% cash back from the gas you buy with it. All you have to do is set up your settings in the app and that's it!
You will then earn 3% Cash Back on gas every time you fill up your vehicle and when you are working as a gig driver that's not an issue. I have yet to find a better credit card for gas rewards.
This card is also great for people who are just starting to build their credit score and with 0% APR in the 1st year, and no annual fees. This was my first credit card when I was in college for how brief that was.
Knowing your Vehicle and What it Needs
Now that we know about earning cash back for your gas, let's talk about some things you should think about knowing what your vehicle needs to be fueled.
From what it needs, to how much you need, to how frequently you need it. It's important to keep track of this so you can make the most profit as possible and reduce your expenses as much as you can as well.
Type of Gas/Fuel - Octane Ratings
Fueling your car with the right gas is a vital part of making sure your vehicle is properly fueled and running at it's maximum performance.
If you have a vehicle that takes regular gas and doesn't need anything different, you can find that at almost any gas station, anything else you better be sure you are getting the right deals and octane ratings to keep your vehicle running.
The Octane rating is the ratio of heptane and isooctane that gasoline is largely composed of. For Example, regular gas has a 87 octane level which means it has 87% isooctane and 13% heptane.
It's important to know this because not every gas station names their higher quality gas types the same name. How many times have you heard of Super and Plus as different stations yet it would be known as Mid-grade elsewhere.
The most common gas types are:
Regular Gas - 87
Mid-Grade or Super/Plus Gas - 89
Premium - 92
Different octane levels are meant for specific features in different vehicles, although most of those features are not necessary for gig work and delivery drivers, so I usually say stick with a simple regular gas vehicle.
No need to pay for higher quality gas when you don't have to.
Size of Tank in your Vehicle
So let's talk about the size of the tank in your vehicle and how you should think about that. When you fill up your car with gas, there is a certain amount it can take in and there are some myths that should be addressed with this.
So some say that if you don't fill up there car all the way, you can save money because it will reduce the weight of your vehicle making it use less gas at a time, and while that is true for some parts of your car I don't believe this makes sense as a driver for these platforms.
If you are in your car a lot, and you need to put in more time to complete certain orders, you don't want to waste more time on extra trips to the gas station, especially since you are paid for the work you actually do and not your time.
With that said, just make sure you always fill up your vehicle when you go to the station. Now, when you fill up the tank there are some mental notes you should take while filling it up.
How much gas it took to fill up the vehicle
How much money it cost for the gas you filled it with
When was the last time you filled up your car prior to this
You want to get an idea of what your car can take, if there are better or worse deals nearby, and how often you end up going to the station.
If you find yourself going too often it may not be your vehicle, it might be the gas and you might need to look into another station with more reputable gas, or it may be time to look into getting a new vehicle for gig driving entirely.
Speaking of getting the most from your fuel, let's talk about some things that can affect your fuels efficiency. While there are a lot of things you can do to that are in your control, somethings you need and will have to bite the bullet on or change your habits for.
With that said I want to break this down into a few parts here so we can see exactly what we can change in our behaviors, and then talk about what we can look for in our vehicles.
In my opinion, you will find this to be one of the most common ways that gas is wasted because while most people blame the car, it is how they are driving, taking care of and when they are driving the car which affects the car the most.
Some of these things are things you can control, while some are things you will have to accept as part of what you have to deal with.
A quick list of all driving habits that affect fuel efficiency include:
Aggressive Driving (my problems😅)
Excessive Idling (leaving your car running while waiting for an order)
High Speed driving (over 80 mph)
Cold Weather **Myth: Letting your car idle doesn't actually help the fuel economy, it make it worse**
Cargo or Cargo racks on top of your vehicle
Towing a Trailer or excessive weight reduces fuel economy
Driving on Hilly and Mountainous terrains
Using 4 wheel drive
So some of these are super simple to fix, take of any racks on your car or the back of your vehicle and only add them on when it is absolutely necessary.
Might need to keep roof racks in your car for ridesharing with someone who wants to bring a surfboard (though I haven't experienced this yet), but otherwise no need to tow things.
Also only keep cargo in your car that is important to your success as a driver for the apps we talk about and nothing more.
The habit changes are simply driving safer and less aggressive at reasonable speeds so you don't get yourself a ticket or cause an accident in your area.
You can also make sure to only leave your car running if you absolutely have to. If you think you are going to wait a while, park it in a spot turn off the car and wait inside.
Now let's talk about biting the bullet, driving in certain conditions actually increase your chances of earning promos and bigger tips.
If it is snowy, people don't want to go out and they will order in. If it is a challenging place to get to, they may tip more. If the weather is not good in general, promos are more bound to happen.
So even with you biting the bullet with climate, road conditions and using a car with 4 or front wheel drive, you will make more money in the long run. I call this "chasing the bad weather".
While most challenges with fuel efficiency are driver inflicted and some of this may fall into that category, there are some things that really are because of the vehicle itself and should be checked up on regularly.
A quick list of vehicle challenges that affect fuel efficiency include:
Poorly tuned engine
Improperly aligned tires
Improperly inflated tires
Dirty air filter
So for most of this you should always consult and work with a properly certified and trustworthy mechanic to work on this for you, as you should not mess with your car if you don't know what you are doing.
However, the one thing I can recommend you do is know how to inflate your tires and how much air your tires need normally in Pounds per Square Inch (PSI).
The recommended PSI is usually between 30-35, though I recommend knowing what your specific tires need so you don't overinflate by accident.
So for those who don't know me, I am an absolute enthusiast for finding the best deals for whatever I need to spend time or money on.
I am the guy who would do whatever they can to just have the same thing at a lower price, or save as much time as possible achieving the same thing.
Which I believe served me well in my upbringing since I am one of the few millennials that are debt free in their late 20's. The being said there is somethings you need to keep in mind about gas prices before you hunt them.
Distance from where you are to the station
How much gas you need to fill up your car (going back to the size of the tank)
How reputable is that gas at that station
So for me, if I need to drive more than 3 miles to get 1 cent off, it isn't worth it. Now if it is like 10 cents or more, I would greatly consider going the extra miles (Bah Dum Cha, I'll be here all week)!
I usually hold off on filling up my car until I have about a quarter left so I am making the most of the gas I am using, without feeling like I am running on fumes.
In which case, I search for a good price near me with an GetUpside and other apps on my phone that are similar and go directly to the location I want gas from instead of driving around from place to place looking for a station with a good deal.
If you get gas from a place with gas that is not reputable, you might as well pay more because you will have to fill up sooner anyway. So if it costs a bit more for reliable gas, swallow your pride and just get it.
You are better off in the long term spending $2 more for better gas now, than $35 an extra time to just to save those $2, and while that may not look like it initially, watch how quickly you run through your gas and see.
While some of this is based upon building habits and can be overwhelming to think about at first, like "how am I going to implement all this into my life?" I had felt this way as well, and what I would tell you is to build one habit at a time.
Most of this can be overwhelming if you try to take it all on at once, so take it one habit and day at a time and you should be okay.
And if all else fails, you can simply invest in an electric car and forget about gas stations as a whole.
With that said, thank you so much for taking the time to read this article! I hope you found some value in what you read here and you can apply this information to your life your success in this gig economy!