New York native Al Castillo started driving for apps like Uber, Lyft and Juno about four years ago. It's his full-time job: He typically works six days a week, for nine to 11 hours a day.
He earned $233 from 15 rides on the day I spent driving with him. That's pretty standard: He typically brings home about $250, he says, and the most he's ever earned in a single day was $540.
While he can earn about $6,000 per month and $72,000 a year (before taxes) by picking up and dropping off passengers, the expenses that come with the gig add up quickly.
For starters, there's his car: He drove a Nissan Pathfinder for years, but recently upgraded and bought a 2017 Honda Pilot a few months ago. He bought it nearly brand new — it had just 25 miles on it — for about $40,000, he says.
Besides having a steep sticker price, cars start to depreciate the moment you drive them off the lot. A vehicle's value typically decreases 20 to 30 percent by the end of the first year and, in five years, it can lose 60 percent or more of its initial value. In his case, though, the Honda was a worthwhile investment, Castillo says, because it can fit more passengers than his previous car. That means he can pick up bigger groups and earn more money.
When you're spending so much time behind the wheel and logging so many miles, he says, "your car's gotta be 100 percent."
As a full-time driver, even if your car is completely paid off, there are a handful of other expenses to factor in: gas, maintenance and inspections, to name a few. Castillo estimates that he spends nearly $20,000 a year to cover costs that come with the job.
Here's a breakdown of all of the expenses Castillo has to make room for as a full-time rideshare driver in New York City:
In total, that's about $17,000 of expenses to account for each year. And that doesn't include taxes: Like any freelancer, Castillo fills out a 1099 tax form every year to report his income.
The expenses add up quickly, but they don't phase him too much. After driving for so many years, he says, they've just become the norm.
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