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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!


Thurs, 27/12/12 Delivered

Thurs, 27/12/12
Delivered newspapers for 10 months. In the beginning I made money because I had 6 routes (610 papers) @ .20 cents/paper, 1 day per week, $50-60 /month fuel, with 15 hours to deliver them. On all but 2 routes, the houses were close together with short driveways. The carriers were required to deliver to the front doors. Elastics $1.50 for 500 ish and bags $24.00 for 2000.

Great for the first two months. But then the delivery truck started showing up later and later. I had to continue to drop routes as time went on because I couldn't make the delivery deadline. Repeatedly late truck deliveries (because of the driver, not newspaper production issues) and management unable to resolve the problem has led me to give my notice with the papers.

That's my experience with the Ancaster Newspaper in Ontario Canada. Know too that most newspapers consider the carriers the low man on the ladder.

I currently run 3 rts and I

I currently run 3 rts and I also run a haul for another carrier which pays $175 a week.....that basically pays for my fuel for all 3 rts, pretty good profits......I use rubberbands as much as possible.....i use one size of bags that can be used on any day....6 1/2 size bags......if i get bogus dm will void them out by putting it back in my service bonus.....also i sent a note with all my customers if they have a problem with service or didn't get a paper to call me first, i usually have 5papers left over so if a customer calls i can get them a paper, keeps them from calling the paper to complain. my contract states 6am on one rt and the other 2 states 7am delivery......and if the press is late or bad weather they extend your required delivery times and will cancel all compaints.....i'm usually done by 6.....also I deliver seafood to restraunts 3 days a week which the owner pays me all in all good money....alot more than I ever made at fedex lol

I wish I knew how to get an

I wish I knew how to get an extra paper or two every day. I hate it when the customer calls the paper company for a missed delivery ... which I think is the customer just wanting an extra paper! It costs me more to pay for the missed delivery than it would for me to take the customer one of the extra papers!

I wanted to post this in

I wanted to post this in reference to the fact that they deduct so much per complaint; be it $1, 2 or 3 - on any given day. My suspicion, however, is the money that is withdrawn from your paycheck is used to pay for the inbound calls, data storage (paper or electronic), and to pay for the whole host of other costly expenses that you incurred - true or not - because of those complaints. If, IF I decide to take this paper route I am going to be upfront and direct with the manager and crunch all numbers before I sign on; and to answer questions I have no intentions of asking with a big ego and loaded weapons (an attitude), but be courteous.

Either way, I am still considering the pros vs cons, and this is why I believe they take that money out. I hope I have given an at least partially accurate theory.

Where can I go to get a

Where can I go to get a paper rt position in my area. I live in the 604 area in Illinois. Please advise. Thanks!!

I have free fuel . I use veg

I have free fuel . I use veg oil. Having no gas bill would this increase my profits much, if I took a delivery job?

Sounds like some of you guys

Sounds like some of you guys need a new job....

My paper company gives me 140 papers a morning, pick up between 2-3 am delivered by 6.. approx 14 miles of route driving (22 miles all together) and it takes about 1.5 to 2.5 hours to complete...

The pay is a base $1200 per month, I net after taxes about $245 per week.. because I have a honda civic, my gas is around $30-40 per week.. I change my own oil and brakes and only have to do that about once every three months (at a shop it'd cost around $90, do it yourself and it's about $30) overall my run is very profitable even though it is a rather rural area.

Wow, what area of the

Wow, what area of the country are you guys in to get such great rates with your routes! My route is not worth it at this point so I put in my notice. I have a rural route with 250 papers and it takes me 3 hours during the week, 4 hours on Sundays to complete. I drive 17 miles to my 1st house! LOL. I'm doing about $1400 a month, but netting only $75-$125 a week depending on complaints, supplies, maintenance on the car, etc. I have a Nissan Sentra.

As a student, this option is

As a student, this option is great... I was working as a Sales Associate for Walmart... working about 30-35 hours a week and still making only about 250 per week. This job I make MORE than I was making there, with 10-20 less hours per week.

It seems the author of this article doesn't have a great deal of knowledge on this subject, if your interviewer is lying to you about how much you're getting paid, you should be looking for a different job anyway.

How to be profitable:

- Low Gas Mileage Vehicle (30-40 MPG - Elec. Cars are perfect!)
- Get a route that's condensed if possible
- Sign on with a company that is actually going to pay you well
- Keep track of expenses, you can write these off at the end of the year saving hundreds on taxes
- LEARN TO DO YOUR OWN MAINTENANCE! I can't stress this enough... nothing is worse than going to the shop every three months and paying someone $50 an hour + parts to change your brakes, You can buy brake pads for around $15 (disk brakes are easy to replace, drum brakes need replaced maybe once a year... or less) this along with changing your own oil will save you upwards of $30-60 per month.

I have to agree with you on

I have to agree with you on this one. If you get a route that is not very spread out, you can be profitable. I have a route where I can get out and walk at 5 different locations to complete my route. Many of the customers are businesses in strip malls and business condos which is GREAT!!! And they all pay. No tips, but at least they pay and usually on time so my check looks pretty close to the same every month.

I haven't begin doing my own maintenance yet, but I will! Oil changes alone will save you $200-$400 a year. I can't imagine what happens if I learn to do brakes or some of the other more involved work myself! This is a gret part time gig if you can get a good route!

Oh, and buy your own supplies if possible. No need to purchase the ones from the paper company. Get then from Uline or another bulk supply store and you will get more supplies at a much cheaper price! I buy supplies once a year!