Any newspaper delivery drivers here?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by JWH123, Aug 26, 2004.

  1. JWH123

    JWH123 Well-Known Member

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    My wife is starting a paper delivery route. She's ridden along with a manager tha past two mornings, and the change in sleep schedule hasn't been too hard on her yet. She has been waking up at 1 AM to get ready and drive the 35 miles to the newspaper printer, pick up the papers at 2 AM, and she's been getting home around 6:30 to 7:00. The manager that she's learning with says he does this route in 2 1/2 hours, and an hour longer on Sundays.

    The pay is $560 every two weeks. Not bad for a job that won't require us to find and pay for daycare. Drawbacks - seven days a week, so neither of us can leave town unless we drive around with the two boys sleeping (hopefully) in the back seat. This money will be extra money that we're planning to put away for a new furniture fund, and to repay a loan from my parents.

    My question is, have you notified your car insurance, and how much does it go up because you're using your vehicle for business?

    We're concerned about bad weather also. Fortunately on this route they are all either 'throw out the window at the end of the driveway' or 'insert into tube(that's plastic newspaper box for you laymen:))'. Only one where she has to get out of the car and put the paper between the man's storm door and front door. Which is good, my wife can get anxious/scared in the dark (stop snickering, I hear you back there! :haha: ). I'm going to be getting her either a extra-bright flashlight or a 12V spotlight, and checking our emergency supplies in her car.
    I'm more concerned about her breaking down or getting stuck out in the middle of nowhere. The breaking down part hopefully isn't too likely, as she has a 2003 vehicle. The getting stuck, getting a flat, hitting a deer part is more likely. She'll have her cell phone, but cell coverage is pretty spotty in our valley.

    Any other suggestions for those who have been there, done that?

    Thanks,
    John
     
  2. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

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    I haven't been there, done that, but I do commute a long ways 3 days a week.

    And Triple A at $47 a year is a good thing. :D
     

  3. RAC

    RAC Guest

    I haven't either, but you should notify your insurance carrier, because if you get into an accident, they will find out eventually and not cover you--one way they check is the mileage on the vehicle. If you say you normally drive 5000 miles a year and there is twice that, inquiring minds will want to know why....

    Also, are you an independent contractor (usually stated in your work contract)? If so, then talk to your tax person about the deductions you can take, if any for using your car for business purposes--make sure you make enough money in total to itemize deductions.
     
  4. Guest Too

    Guest Too Active Member

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    The wear & tear on your vehicle goes up tremendously. You put a LOT more miles on and if your like my S-I-L's route she does a lot of stop and go and idling around which seems to wear her vehicles out a lot faster.
     
  5. ginnie5

    ginnie5 wife,mom,taxi driver,cook Supporter

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    we used to run a paper route. Many years ago. We never notified insurance. make sure your wife can change a flat. I had that happen several times. I hit a deer once too. It ran away and the damage to my door was minimal, dh popped the dent right back out. Not sure where you are but I would've hated to have had kids in the backseat. In the winter you just about have to keep the window down and it gets cold. Also not fun in the rain. Tell her to get a pair of driving gloves. the ink on those papers is often still damp and will cover your hands. It dried mine out really bad till I started wearing gloves. Maybe stick a tire iron (or something like that) under the front seat just in case. I carried a black jack under mine. Put on some good music and get those papers out! Do you know if she is planning on rolling the ones she has to throw before she heads out? I got to the point where I could roll and drive and that really saved some time. We did have some bad weather one year I remember. They still expected the papers to go out. I ran the route in an old chevette that we didn't care if it got messed up but in bad weather we'd break out the vw bug..no heat but it would go through anything. Tell her to have fun. I have fond memories of my paper route days. Now that my oldest is almost 16 if I wasn't pregnant I'd be looking into another one. Oh and we had a friend who we taught the route to that could sub for us once in awhile if we needed to go out of town. That was huge help. I think we paid like 20-25 a night for that.
     
  6. JWH123

    JWH123 Well-Known Member

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    Two good points - We do have AAA, but not sure of their response time out here, or of towing places available 24/7 nearby.

    Yes, the contract she brought home this morning says she would be an independent contractor. Can anyone elaborate on what this means tax-wise? We do itemize deductions, and we have a loan on the car she'll be using, if that means anything.

    John
     
  7. Shygal

    Shygal Unreality star Supporter

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    My ex did them for 11 years, and wore out 4 cars doing them. Its the stop and go that kills them :(

    Also, you have never seen people at their worst, until you have seen them when you are late with their paper, or god forbid, accidently forget them :eek: You would think people were getting deliveries of sacks of gold, rather than a newspaper, the way some of them go on.
    He was threated with a gun twice, had dogs sic'd on him more than a few times, had a man had to be physically restrained from going after him, to name a few things.

    Also, you might find it gets old very fast waking up alone, with no one to snuggle with in the morning.....it wasnt a problem for me ;) but I can see where some might not like that.
     
  8. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

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    Shygal's right about wearing the cars out.

    The reason my commute is okay is because almost all of it is two lane highway --- and it's hilly so I actually coast most of the way. :D

    In any case, a job is a job and this could work out for you all, despite the wear and tear. Shine up your home car repair skills and keep a good eye on the car, and you should be alright. :)
     
  9. Leah IL

    Leah IL momto6

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    I delivered papers for about a year or so. I didn't inform my insurance carrier, I didn't even think of it. I did put a ton of miles on my van, but other than the paper route, I didn't put many miles on it at all so it balanced out fine. Make sure she keeps track of all her mileage. She should make a habit of writing down the mileage before she leaves the house and as soon as she gets home every day. Put a chart somewhere where she won't forget. When you do your taxes you can deduct for mileage. As I remember we got a tax refund that year. My husband got the refund and I ended up owing a little bit but not much.

    Make sure she carries pepper spray or something. There are some weirdos out at that time of night!!!

    I'm with ginnie, I have very fond memories of my paper route days. You see the sunrise every day, get to see all sorts of animals, and it's really peaceful so early in the morning. Sometimes I'd listen to books on tape, sometimes a radio talk show, sometimes nothing. It was fun, but it does wear on you after awhile because it's every single day no matter what.

    FWIW, I didn't wear out any cars, get attacked by any dogs, or have anyone yell at me :) Most people are still in bed when the paper gets there. If ever I felt threatened I would just not get out of the car and leave the paper at the end of the drive. Most people would probably call the newspaper and yell at the poor customer service rep before physically confronting the delivery woman.

    Most importantly, have her find out where to get the best coffee that time of the morning :p
     
  10. Quiver0f10

    Quiver0f10 Well-Known Member

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    My Dh did a route for a few years while he went back to school. We never told the insurance co either and like a few have mentioned we went thru MANY cars. The stop and go is horrible on cars. He broke down a few times, got stuck in a snow bank once and locked himself out trying to push the car out at 2 AM, ended up breaking the tiny back window to get in :eek: and hit a deer once, so make sure she is prepared for emergency.

    I totally agree about rude people. They would get so irate if he forgot a paper or was a bit late in delivering. Call ME and yell at me over it UGH :rolleyes:

    We did keep a log of the miles and were able to deduct ( .31 cents a mile??) and that helped alot too come tax time.

    Best Wishes!
     
  11. daileyjoy

    daileyjoy Well-Known Member

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    Dh is running a paper route right now and some of the advice here is pretty good, but if you inform your insurance company most likely they will drop you or not cover you should anything happen same goes with a pizza job the insurance compaines consider those jobs high risk since you drive so much. Trust me dh has been doing both for over 3 years. You will run through a few cars in this line of work, maintance is very importance tune ups, oil change, and the good gas does make a difference. Tell her to keep something on her for safty bums and other junkies will notice her coming and going and assume she has cash on her, they wont even think that she is only dropping off. Winter time on a paper route sucks because you have to keep the windows down more often than not. She'll need some thin gloves because seperating the papers is not easy with thick ones. I agree with people being rude once dh had a lady standing outside waiting for him just to chew him out. Ask about how they do Christmas bonuses, at dh's job the delivery guys buy Christmas cards and inside them place a preaddressed envelope and the people on his route send him money for Christmas. One year we got a little over 500$ in gifts but dh also had a wealthier neighborhood he delivered in. Good Luck

    Jennifer
     
  12. bethlaf

    bethlaf Homegrown Family

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    my parents ran a paper route for 15 years, the extra money, and the time they spent together doing it , was worth it


    tax dedutions,
    track milage, start and end of route, daily !!! tax credit of 23 cents per mile ( its like an extra paycheck , our milage deduction for our work truck was equal to $23,000, now granted my hubby puts on about 500+ miles a week , but thats different

    tuneup reciepts,
    oil change reciepts,
    BRAKES , be prepared to replace these pretty regular, the stop and start driving !!!!
    any oil you add between changes
    etc.....
    my tax man even allowed hubby to deduct the 50.00 massagin back cushion he got for when hes in the truck

    enjoy the job , tis a good one , if youre a good self starter , and dont mind the early hours
     
  13. RAC

    RAC Guest

    The insurance will definitely drop you if you have an accident and didn't tell them you were doing it for your job. The person you hit, or who hits you, will maybe notice you're delivering something (all the newspapers went flying out of the car for example) and put that in the accident report, just as people notice others talking on a cell phone....

    If the insurance company drops you (essentially for fraud/failure to disclose your job/extra mileage), you may not be able to get coverage from another carrier either. Also, these days, with insurance companies running credit checks, they may find out you have this job anyway....

    So, hopefully you are very lucky and don't get into any accidents with anyone else and/or can afford to cover such losses if you do.

    We dropped our paper--can read most of it online or at the library. We buy one on Sunday for the TV Guide and the occasional Michael's coupon.

    It is just something to think about.
     
  14. ponyexpress

    ponyexpress Well-Known Member

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    Get both the extra bright flashlight and the spotlight. She will need them! You have no idea how hard it is to find those box markers in the dark. Also, I'm assuming she's going to be driving on the wrong side of the road (unless she's one of those super co-ordinated folks who can throw papers over the car), so she will need some kind of blinking safety light for her car...
    I took my dog with me when I delivered. Except on Sundays, there wasn't enough room!
    Delivering papers is the only job I ever had that is harder than delivering mail.
     
  15. DAVID In Wisconsin

    DAVID In Wisconsin Well-Known Member

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    Tax wise, being a contractor means a lot. It means more paperwork at tax time and it oftens means more tax deductions. You can deduct either your actual car expenses (repairs, depreciation, fuel, etc) OR you can take a flat rate per mile deduction. You must keep records but I think the per mile last year was 37 cents.

    As you are now responsible for all taxes, year end is a bit tedious. You are now responsible for the kind of taxes that employers deduct and match themselves. I always save a portion (25%) of my income to pay taxes.

    A good accountant is a lifesaver and easily pays for himself. I keep everything from 3 businesses very well organized and bring him the totals each year. He charges me around $400.00 for year end taxes. I usually get billed another $400.00 during the coarse of the year for information and help. He saves me much more than that.

    As RAC said, your auto insurance is based on the annual mileage you told them when you got the policy. If you wreck, the mileage will likely have the insurance company doing everything possible not to pay your claim. Legally they have every right not to. For me, saving a few hundred dollars a year isn't worth it.

    I do some work for a large company that employs about 150 paper carriers. Most of them like it. I wish you well.
     
  16. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    As an independent contractor your income is treated as if you were self-employed. You will have to file a schedule C and pay self-employment tax. I don't know what the current rate is, but in 2002, it was basically 15%. That would be $84 a paycheck if you don't keep track of expenses! And...if you don't pay those taxes quarterly, you could also end up owing penalties and interest at the end of the year!

    Get a mileage log. Every morning, she needs to record her mileage when she starts and when she stops. Don't cheat on this as that log book is your evidence if you get audited! Don't fall into the complacency of thinking you can just add up the miles because you know what they are...keep the book up to date!

    Figure up the mileage for every two weeks. Then figure up what the deduction is going to be at whatever the current mileage rate is. It used to be 31.5 cents. Whatever the difference is between what she's getting and those deductions will be what you pay the 15% tax on. If the mileage is worth $300 every two weeks, then you will pay 15% of $260 ($39). Set that aside and pay it in quarterly.

    My figures and percentages are NOT up to date. Check with a tax person or the IRS to get the current ones. $39 a week might not sound like much, but if you get hit with that bill at the end of the year it sure will be!

    If you use the standard mileage deduction, then you do not have to keep gas receipts, etc. If you'd rather do actual expenses, it's harder because you have to keep every gas receipt, but then you can't deduct any gas for personal use. How do you divide a tank up? It gets tricky and harder to prove, if needed. The standard mileage rate is set to figure in all expenses for running the vehicle, including depriciation, maintenance, etc.

    If you tell your insurance and they raise the rates, then the difference is rates is deductible.

    Be wary of depriciating your car (if you do actual methods). When you sell it, it will be partially treated as a business asset and capital gains taxes may apply.

    Jena
     
  17. Shygal

    Shygal Unreality star Supporter

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    No kidding! The one that doesnt deliver is the one that gets to field all the phone calls from irate people, so be prepared! :eek:
    My favorite was the lady that called me and woke me up when I was 9 months pregnant, at 5 AM :eek: to tell me she hadnt got her paper yet....as my ex was walking up her driveway.


    And daileyjoy reminded me of something, yes the gloves are a must, even not in the winter. Newsprint is very rough on your hands, it dries them out and my ex used to get deep cracks in his hands from them.

    I recommend getting a can of Bag Balm for your hands, and get a few pairs of those Ladies magic stretch gloves that they sell 2 pairs for 1.99 in Wal Mart, the ones with the gripper bumps on them, not the plain ones.
     
  18. Momo

    Momo Well-Known Member

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    I did it many moons ago for over 2 years as my main source of income. At the time I had a young child and no help from anyone. I just got him up every night at about 3 am and put him back to sleep in the rear seat. My route took about 3 hours to run. I had a clunker of a car (no radio, no air, no power, manual transmission) and it never gave me a minute of trouble. My route was in Florida but since it was early in am I guess my car never got as hot as it would have during the day hours. I prefer delivering when there isn't much traffic out. It's alot quicker that way. Once you get your route and customers memorized it's a breeze. I had alot of old people on my route. I did every special delivery request they made. It paid off at Christmas though. I had no idea so many people would tip so generously. Be sure to keep your customer list up to date. If you ever have an emergency you may need someone to do the route for you. It never happened to me, but I always had a tape ready so someone could pop the tape in and drive and it would tell them where the papers would go.
     
  19. suelandress

    suelandress Windy Island Acres Supporter

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    I've been on my route for almost 13 years now.
    Some suggestions:

    Line up a substitute. As a private contractor, you are required to cover your route every day. Finding a sub last minute is hard....having one trained now will save you alot of headaches

    Buy clunkers and run them into the ground. Have a good 4 wheel drive for snow storms. I have a corolla all trac that is all wheel drive with an optional 4 wheel drive. That can save HOURS on a route.

    Don't hand out an envelope with your name on it at xmas....hand out a "seasons greeting" card (unless you know they all clelbrate xmas) with your name and address. A card will easily double the tips you get just handing out an envelope (which is kind of obvious begging :) ) I do mine up on the computer. If you don't have too many subscribers, a hand addressed card is best....they know that you know who they are.

    Does she have to collect from her customers? If so, set up with either quickbooks or something similar. Auto printing of bills saves lots of time....and tracks any disagreements she may run into. Don't let people pay cash!

    "Crack Cream" is great for rough hands......and she will get rough hands! It's the worst in the winter when you have both cold and dry hands. The print just sucks the oils out of your skin.

    Yes, on keeping track of milage....but please note....she can only count the milage from where she picks up the papers to the last stop....not on the commute in.

    Most importantly....let your customers know who you are. Since they won't see you in the middle of the night, it's easy to forget your a human being trying to make a living. A "Hi I'm your new carrier" note in the beginning is a good start.
    Some folks are uncomfortable doing so, but my customers have my phone number and email addy, as well as my home address.
     
  20. EricG

    EricG Well-Known Member

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    My wife parked her car in the grocery store parking lot. While she was in the store the van of the person who was delivering bundles of papers to the store slipped out of gear and rolled backwards down the sloping lot into her van. Estimate for damage was $1600.

    The paper persons insurance wouldn't cover it because it was commercial use which wasn't declared on their policy. We got paid for the repair by our insurance under un-insured motorist. Last I knew our insurance was sueing the delivery person.

    Food for thought.

    Eric