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Sometimes working a full-time job isn’t enough, ya know? Like, when you have debts to pay off, retirement to save for, a family to take care of, all while keeping up with the monthly bills.
In October of 2016, I was working full time, budgeting like a boss, and paying over $1,000 per month towards my debt (my minimum payments totaled ~$300). I really wasn’t in a position to complain, but I still felt like things just weren’t happening fast enough.
Like most of the country, I love browsing Pinterest for side hustle and everything else ideas, so I started searching around for ways to make money in my wee bit of spare time during evenings and weekends.
Surveys? Nah, I spent enough time on a computer in the office. Cleaning? No, thank you. ‘Nuff of my own to do. Waiting tables? GOD NO!
That’s when I came across an article on Uber driver pay and what it’s like to drive for Uber.
Working in an office, I really didn’t get to socialize all that much, and I was desperate for human interaction (even though I’m a total introvert – that’s how deprived I was). I had just upgraded my car because of an accident (not my fault) that left my old one totaled, and my new vehicle fit the Uber parameters. I did the math, and it seemed like it was a decent-paying gig.
And that’s how Uber became my first side hustle!
Uber Driver Review – A Lady’s Perspective
At 5’2″ and ~110 lbs., I am by no means what you might consider a “tough-lookin’ broad”. I’m regularly mistaken for a high schooler, and I’m 23 years old. So yeah, about as non-threatening as you can imagine. That’s probably why my dad was upset when he found out about my little side gig.
A lot of women are hesitant about ride sharing as a side huslte, so I wanted to share with you guys my experience and thoughts on driving for Uber. From a lady’s perspective.
Does Uber pay well?
That depends. I didn’t drive for Uber full time, so I can’t really speak to that. However, I’ve done the math and read reviews from drivers who do drive/have driven for Uber full time, and it doesn’t seem worth it.
That being said, it does have the potential to be a lucrative part-time gig IF you do it right (i.e. if you drive during the busiest times). For me, that meant driving during game days and evenings on the weekends in my town. I could drive for 4 hours and make a solid 80 bucks. Keep in mind, though, that $80 is before taxes.
All Uber drivers are independent contractors and have to pay their own taxes.
What’s it like working for Uber?
Honestly, it’s not like…anything. There’s very little interaction with the company, apart from the emails. On my first ride, I had no idea what I was doing or really how the app worked. I actually forgot to “start” the ride on the app on the first ride I gave, so I ended up paying for the ride with my gas. Whoops.
I had a rider leave his hat in my car one time. As soon as I found it, I messaged the Uber team and told them who I thought it was. They said they’d do their best to get in touch with the rider and keep me updated. Never heard anything after that. Pretty sure that hat belongs to my old roommate now.
Have you ever had any bad experiences with riders?
Most of my experiences with riders were actually really good. Like I said earlier, working at a desk job in a tiny office, I felt really deprived of human interaction. It was a lot of fun for me to meet different kinds of people and hear a little about their lives. I always tried to make my passengers laugh and I was pretty successful, especially with the drunk ones. So overall, I would say the riders were usually my favorite part of driving for Uber.
4 Tips for Female Uber Drivers
When I first decided to drive for Uber, every man in my life worried for my safety. They told me how risky it was to be a female Uber driver and that there were plenty of stories and videos of male Uber drivers being attacked; they couldn’t imagine what that could possibly mean for the ladies of Uber.
But I never felt unsafe or uncomfortable driving for Uber. (On second thought, I did feel uncomfortable more than once, but those are stories for another time.) I always took precautions to ensure my safety, and I would advise all Uber drivers, not just the ladies, do the same. So if you drive for Uber or plan to in the future (and especially if you’re of the fairer sex), these are my tips for you.
Always have pepper spray on hand.
Pepper spray is an easy-to-use weapon with minimal damage. You don’t have to be hesitant to use it like you might with another weapon because you’re not going to kill anyone, just cause them a lot of pain. But hey, if they’re gettin’ grabby or causing trouble, then they deserve it.
And easily accessible. No weapon will do you good if it’s in your purse in the driver’s seat or tucked tightly into your jean pocket. I kept my pepper spray in the door handle of my car. That way if I ever felt like I may need it I would just put my arm on the door, grab it with my left hand, untwist the cap, and it was ready to go! Luckily, I never actually had to use it.
Let someone know where you are and what you’re doing.
Every time I started a shift, I would call or text someone and let them know how long I planned to work and ask them to call me every so often to check in. It felt having someone know my rough location just in case anything were to happen. Better safe than sorry, right?
There are several really great apps you could also use to route your coordinates to other users. One example is the Life360 app that allows you to share your location only with other members of your circle. It also has crash protection and emergency response in case of an accident.
Drive during the day.
I didn’t think driving after dark was a huge deal when I first decided to drive for Uber, but the more I thought about it, the less appealing it became. The later it gets, the drunker the passengers usually are, and the higher the odds of something going wrong. And I don’t just mean getting attacked or something outrageous; I’m also talking about getting caught up in people’s weird, late-night drunken drama. Only driving during daylight hours did limit my earning potential, but it also gave me more peace of mind and probably saved me a lot of frustration.
I also live in the town of my alma mater (Go Hokies!), so driving only on weekends during football season actually brought in a decent chunk of change, what with surge pricing and all. Woop, woop!
Don’t be afraid to say no.
I remember one time after a football game I got a request to pick up some dude and his friends on campus. I turned around and started heading his way, but traffic was horrible because the game had JUST ended and there were 30K+ people trying to navigate their way around a teensy, tiny town. Ten minutes go by since I received the notification and dude calls me:
Dude: Yo, where you at? You lost, bro? *drunken laughter in the background*
Me: Uh, no. The game just ended and traffic is really terrible. I’m sorry, I’m moving as fast as I can with traffic. I’ll be there ASAP.
Dude: F*ck, man. Hurry the f*ck up. I’m tryna go to this party. Like, how long do you think it’s gonna take you to get here?
Eventually, I get there and dude comes up to my car. I roll down the window:
Dude: Okay, so here’s the deal. We’re tryna party tonight, and I want you to be our driver. I’ll pay you $200 if you turn off your app and drive us around all night.
Me: Yeah, sorry, I can’t do that.
Dude: Why not? You’re not gonna make more money than that.
Me: I can’t. I’m on the clock and everything I do through Uber is supposed to be through the app, so that doesn’t work if I turn it off.
Synopsis of the rest of the interaction: Dude bothers me about it for a while longer, and I keep saying no. Dude invites me to hang out with his tailgate buddies. No thanks. Dude continues to be really annoying and can’t round up his party to leave, so after 30 minutes of getting to him and 10 minutes of waiting for him and his party to get in the car, I said, “Look, I’m sorry, but I’m not getting paid to sit here. If you’re not ready to leave now, then I’m canceling your ride.”
He finally got his party ready. Turns out he needed a ride for himself, his wife, and his ex-girlfriend who he very obviously still had feelings for and spent the entire ride flirting with in front of his infuriated wife. Talk about awkward. But, hey, at least I wasn’t stuck with them all night!
Because I said no.
Overall, I think driving for Uber can be a great side hustle if you keep track of your expenses, drive part-time during busy hours, and keep safety in mind. It’s not something I would ever do full time, but I think I’ll keep it in the side hustle repertoire.
Have you ever driven for Uber? What was your experience?
I’m a financial coach and author + owner of Goodbye to Broke. I love all things personal finance, money management, and healthy living. And I talk to my dog way too much, if we’re being honest.