Friday, October 28

My First Night Experience Working for Postmates

Tampa has seen an influx of new delivery options recently.  Uber Eats expanded this week to St. Pete and Amazon launched restaurant delivery last week.  A third option just launched this week as well:  Postmates.

I learned that Postmates was launching from an ad on Facebook.  I had heard about the service on Youtube and figured it doesn't hurt to add a sharing economy option to my arsenal.  The company approved me quickly - the background check went through within a couple of hours of my applying.  This was by far the fastest approval I have received when signing up with a company in the sharing economy.  A couple of days later, I received an email inviting me to an orientation meeting.  I was given two options to attend the meeting and was promised "dinner and Postmates swag".  I'm glad I decided to attend the meeting, because the swag included the required Postmates debit card.

One difference in how Postmates works is that I have to make purchases using the prepaid debit card.  A customer can use the Postmates app or website to order food or general merchandise from places like Walgreens.  Depending on the location, I might have to place the order when I arrive, or Postmates may place the order for me.  When I arrive, I pay for the order using the debit card they provided me.

The soft launch was Tuesday, but the official launch was yesterday.  On Tuesday I had a two hour break in my Amazon schedule, so I turned on a couple of other apps including Postmates.  I received my first request to pick up a $5 box from KFC about two miles away.  Before accepting a request, all I see is where I have to go to pick up the order.  It doesn't say where my final destination will be.  I had to go inside KFC and place the order and wait for it to be prepared.  Once I confirmed the order, I was given the destination, which was a student housing building at Tampa College, less than 2 miles away.  The entire process was straightforward, but in all this one order consumed about half an hour.  For that, I was paid $4.

One benefit of using Postmates versus Uber Eats is that Postmates has a tipping option on the app.  I was pleasantly surprised a day later when a $3 tip was posted to the KFC order.  Still, $7 is a meager amount to cover both my vehicle expenses and my time.

First Lesson Learned:  Only Accept Nearby Orders

Last night after my Amazon shift, I logged onto Postmates.  It was launch day, and the company was giving away pints of ice cream and empanadas.  As soon as I logged on a request came through to pick up some empanadas.  The pick up location was nearly 20 minutes away.  At the time I didn't realize Postmates doesn't compensate you for your time traveling to pick up an order.  Later in the night I drove 15 miles, 26 minutes, to pick up California Pizza Kitchen.  For the CPK order, which required me to park and go inside the mall, wait in line to pick up the order (this time Postmates placed the order for me), and drive a couple miles to the customer, I was only paid $4.  Totally not worth it, even with the $2.51 tip the customer included.  I spent nearly an hour on this order, and put almost 20 miles on my car, for a grand total of $6.51.

Second Lesson Learned:  Postmates Pays VERY Little

Last night I worked exclusively for Postmates from 6:30 PM until almost 10 PM.  I was always making deliveries (one feature I like is how Postmates will "stack" a second order while you are completing the first, so that you already know where you are headed next).  While I wasn't as efficient as I will be now that I know my travel time to pick up an order isn't compensated, I did feel like I was working pretty hard.  I drove aggressively, hustled at each pickup location, and was extra nice in the hopes of getting tipped.  In all, I made 7 deliveries.  Postmates paid me $33.82.  I received a $2 cash tip and so far have received $10.51 in tips through the app.  Of the 7 orders, 4 tipped, 2 did not tip (how cheap:  their order was FREE and they still didn't throw me a couple dollars!), and one order hasn't been closed out yet.  I made just over $14/hour on what is likely one of the busiest days there will be.  This, of course, is my gross income before accounting for my vehicle expenses.


Thursday, October 20

What I'm Doing in October

Life is good right now.  Other than dealing with a sinus infection.  Those suck.

Work

Having a steady source of income definitely improves my outlook on things.  This month, I've completed two hospitality jobs.  If Amazon stays steady, I won't be working as many hospitality jobs as they pay less.  We do have a job booked in Dallas for November and might have a job in Orlando depending on how much it pays.

I've been delivering for Amazon whenever I can.  Amazon limits driver's hours to 8 per day and 40 per week.  The last two weeks I've met my goal of working 40 hours at Amazon.  I gross around $30/hour including tips before expenses.

I haven't been driving for Uber or Lyft much.  When I have a gap in my Amazon schedule I sometimes turn the rideshare apps on.  Yesterday I was off from Amazon between 4:30 pm-6:30 pm.   I earned about $30 from rides in that time.  I probably will drive on Halloween night since it is so busy.  Our area has seasonal demand and things are picking up, so I might start driving more when I'm not at Amazon.

Play

We are spending the night in Orlando at the end of the month.  I bought tickets to the Sia concert and booked a room within walking distance of the Amway Center.  Since I need to work as many hours as possible this month (property taxes will be due soon), there won't be time for much recreational travel.

Travel

I thought I would need to visit Birmingham to turn over the vacant condo, but I managed to place a tenant without making that trip.  Since I now have a trustworthy handyman, I'm able to delegate any repairs that the new tenants need.  I enjoy checking on my properties, plus Birmingham was home for 35 years.  But a day there is a day I'm not working here in Florida.

Wednesday, October 5

My Frugal Miser - September Expenses: $3,347


Overall September was a very frugal month.  Working as much as I did, I didn't have time to spend money on anything.  In August I pre-paid for Shell gas, and my fuel bill for September was just $12.  Every month I take a depreciation expense to recognize the loss of value of my car.  This is a non-cash expense and is based on the mileage used during the month.

We spent a week in Las Vegas, and during the trip I hit my first Royal Flush on video poker.  I was playing a quarter machine and won $1,000.  I managed to hold onto half of that and used the casino's cash to play with the rest of the week.

I've gone way over my goal for limiting vacation spending this year.  In September, I made two large purchases towards 2017 vacations:  flights to Iceland and Amsterdam and a cruise.

Food spending benefited from the refund from Nutrisystem.  I returned the second shipment of food they sent since I still haven't started on the first month's shipment.


September Expenses:  $3,347

$1,064 Auto ($12 gas, $4 repairs/maintenance, $1,049 depreciation)
$0 Bank Fees
$7 Clothing
$0 Computer
($147) Entertainment (movies, gambling, alcohol) income this month
$33 Food
$16 Gifts Given
$127 Household/Housing/Home Repair
$52 Health and Dental Insurance
$0 Investment Expense
$117 Interest Expense*
$25 Medical/Dental
$10 Miscellaneous
$60 Personal Care
$1 Subscriptions
$0 Taxes
$127 Uber/Lyft Expenses (excluding fuel and depreciation)
$160 Utilities
$1,694 Vacation

*Interest expense includes student loans and the loan on my car.  As both rates are below 2%, I am completely comfortable paying the interest each month and investing the money that I would otherwise use to pay off these loans.  In September I paid $103 to E*Trade for "hard to borrow" interest on a short sale of Sears Holdings stock. 

Monday, October 3

My Frugal Miser - September Income: $12,060


September was a great month for income, even though we spent one week on vacation in Las Vegas.

I've figured out the trick to getting hours on Amazon Flex, and it's been rewarding.  I enjoy making deliveries, and the tips are significant.  If Uber allowed for tips, the difference in driver income would be ridiculous.  With Amazon, I am earning around $10/hour just in tips.

Rental income was okay, but one property is still vacant and a second one is becoming vacant this month.  As I've added hours on Amazon, I've worked less at mystery shopping and rideshare driving.

September Income $12,060

$332 Mystery Shopping and Hospitality Jobs
$379 Uber
$89 Lyft
$3,364 Amazon Deliveries
$6,734 Rental Income
$15 Dividends and Interest (Investment Accounts)
$1,068 Realized Gains (Losses) on Investments
$79 Other Sources

Notes:  
  • I don't include transactions in my retirement accounts.  This includes rental income, dividends and capital gains and losses.
  • I include merchandising and hospitality work in the mystery shopping category since the companies that I shop for provide this extra side work.