How much does a Lyft driver make when renting a car to drive?

So, we are back with another experiment. This time revisiting one of my favorites — LYFT driving. You may remember, back in late 2015 I did an experiment trying to learn how much those driving their car for Lyft were actually bringing home after expenses. These days, you do not even need a car in order to drive for Lyft…or Uber, for that matter. Both companies have agreements with rental car companies so potential drivers can rent a car instead of using their own car or if they do not own a car. This opens up additional opportunities for those seeking to earn money with Lyft.

We’ll get into some of the experiences I encountered while driving, the finances, as well as weighing the positives and negatives renting a car through Lyft’s Express Drive Program. Scroll down to the section that interests you most. My Lyft/Hertz rental car is due back on Thursday; will I turn it in or keep on with the fun?!?!

Drivers for Lyft are as varied as the riders. Some drivers are actually millionaires or well-off people (some retirees) seeking to find something to do, while others are just normal people needing to get income and have been living paycheck to paycheck. You have the freedom to go on or off the driving platform at will, so this is a great choice for those seeking to maximize the freedom of their time. Use this link to start driving for Lyft!

Spoiler alert: Renting a car through Lyft’s Express Drive only makes sense if you are doing this full time. Everything mentioned herein relates to South Florida driving and “based” out of Southern Palm Beach County. This blog post is also only based on two weeks for the experiment. Situations may be different in other cities.

POSITIVES and NEGATIVES to RENTING

POSITIVES

  • No wear and tear on your own car (driving 200-300 miles each day is typical for a full-time driver)
  • Ability to earn money when one does not own a car
  • Most of your costs are that of gasoline and car washing
  • All insurance and maintenance are included with the rental cost — minus tire flats and should you end up with a cracked windshield. As well, there is a $1,000 deductible on the insurance.
  • Make at least 100 rides each week will bring the cost of the rental down to about $95 per week (from $237)
  • Freedom to work your own hours as well as start and stop from any location in South Florida
  • Unlimited miles and the ability to use the rental vehicle for personal use
  • No long term commitment
  • Tax deduction of 58 cents per mile (includes all miles while on the platform not just when the passenger is in the vehicle)

NEGATIVES

  • Somewhat limited availability of rental cars, as well as the variety of vehicles available (this is not a typical Hertz car rental arrangement)
  • Cost – if you do not meet a certain number of rides, then you are on the hook for the entire $237 per week rental cost
  • Need to travel to/from Dania (near FLL) to pick up and drop off the rental car
  • $250 deposit (refundable)
  • Limited to only driving on the Lyft platform and NOT Uber with the rental car

FINANCES

OK, so let’s see if all this makes any sense to do. When I first learned about this rental car program I could not understand how anyone could earn money renting a car as a driver. The results show that if one is driving casually or to supplement their income by driving part-time, then I do not recommend renting a car to drive for Lyft. Driving part-time, you are not likely to meet the threshold to qualify for $140 per week of rental rewards which would make your per hour net not worth doing, in my opinion.

I took on this experiment again after reading some drivers were making only $5 per hour and yet would read elsewhere $35 per hour. Additionally, I head up a Meetup discussion group where one question posed was, “What was your favorite job?” I had to admit that my stint in 2015 driving for Lyft was the most fun way I had earned money in my 50 years.

You are not going to get rich driving for Lyft, but you will earn an average income. The average Palm Beach County resident earns around $50,000 per year and this is within range of a full-time, quality Lyft driver — at least from my experience.

So, let’s assume you are driving a minimum of 40 hours per week and preferably over 50 hours each week. This amount of time would be typical for a regular job. The advantage here is you have the ability to go on and off the driving platform at your whim. The least busy day of the week in South Florida seems to be Wednesdays. Lyft shows this through their demand graphs and I have confirmed this myself. Much to my surprise, my busiest day of the week is Sunday. If one is considering driving, I would recommend driving six days a week and taking Wednesday’s off. By law, you are only allowed up to 14 hours a day to drive, no matter how you split those hours up during any 24 hour period.

The bottom line is you can net $800 to $1,000 per week driving through Lyft’s Express Drive program. Your costs are the gas and the rental car. If you are trying to determine your net per hour, it comes in at between $15 to $20 per hour. This can increase if you drive a more fuel-efficient vehicle and choose to drive in the evenings, assuming you have the temperament to deal with drunk people. I am super nice to riders and have a gregarious personality; however, dealing with the logistics associated with picking up drunk riders is an experience which I have little tolerance.

The rental car I was able to choose was a 33 average miles per gallon Hyundai Elantra. If one was able to get a Prius (50+MPG) for example, your net margin would obviously be greater.  Another consideration is you are able to write off as a federal tax deduction all the costs of rental including operational costs and/or take the 58 cents per mile deduction (see your tax professional).

If you are facing a large tax bill before taking on this endeavor you may want to consider foregoing the rental car program and buying a Prius or other 50+ miles per gallon vehicle as you will likely be able to write off the entire purchase cost of the car. If this is a factor, make your decision after consulting your tax professional as everyone’s tax liabilities are different due to their personal situations.

EXPERIENCES

WOW! So, the experiences…one could write a book. If one is looking for variety, freedom, and fun, then driving for Lyft is for you! You will pick up people from all walks of life and take them to all sorts of places — it truly runs the gamut. If you like people and you like driving, this could be the profession for you.

You can drop off someone in a lower income area and next pick up an individual who owns a $5+ million home. I truly appreciate the upper-income people taking a regular Lyft as, unless they have requested a “Lux” or “Lux Black” Lyft, they do not know if you’re showing up with an average car or a little Corolla. They are the most down-to-Earth wealthy people and like everyone else, are just looking for a nice ride to their destination.

Just like there is a wide range of riders, drivers do not know if they are going to be on Palm Beach or Key Biscayne. They could be at the beach one moment, then way out in horse-country the next.

I guess the biggest change from 2015 to now with regard to riders is that back then, about 40% of my riders were recovering addicts. This time around it is rare to pick up those in recovery. I never had a bad ride with any addicts, so I do not care, it is just an observation. Most people seeking a ride are mostly going to work, going to the airport, or are doing the “walk of shame.” During this experiment, I was going out at 5 a.m. so early morning experiences may be different than 5 p.m.

Sometimes, you end up being somewhat of a psychiatrist. During this experiment, I had a man my age start crying in the back seat as he opened up about how his life has changed recently. One of my first rides was a 20-year-old girl who had gotten herself in a very difficult situation at a Super 8 motel that I “rescued” her from. Rescue is a valid word for what happened which is similar to another rescue I did for another single girl in 2015 in Fort Lauderdale during my prior experiment.

Another time during this experiment, I picked up a 30 +/- year old man on Sunrise Blvd in front of an apartment complex for which he exited after hooking up with a girl overnight. He seemed like a super nice guy and we had a great conversation during his ride. I was shocked to see I was dropping him off at his waterfront home, where the yacht at the dock in the back was bigger than his large multi-million dollar home.

Often, a driver has riders who work for billionaires in $20+ million homes. I had a ride yesterday for the chef of a well-known billionaire who I was glad to see honoring the NDA (non-disclosure agreement) he signed as a condition of his employment. Not that I was asking for any information, but it was a welcome contrast to an experience I had with a staff member for a South American billionaire who spouted out all kinds of awful details about the family.

Then sometimes you just have rides where people are engrossed in their phones and choose not to communicate with the driver, which is fine. After all, Lyft is somewhat of a utility. Overall, drivers are there to serve and offer the best experience for the riders. Some riders want to talk, others do not, and that is OK.

The funniest experience during this 2019 experiment happened just the other day. I picked up a young gentleman at his house in the Eastern part of Delray Beach and he was going to a bank out on Jog Road, then heading back to his house. I thought he was going to sign some papers, as there are EIGHT other branches of this bank that were closer to his home, but I quickly learned he was only going there to withdraw cash from its ATM! While at the ATM, he discovered he didn’t have any money in the bank, so he spent the time on the way back to his home on the phone with the bank trying to understand why he doesn’t have any money. Shouldn’t he have checked his balance before he left his home? Shouldn’t he have used an ATM closer to his home to save on the cost of the Lyft? The ride cost him over $20 and though I felt bad for him, I think I know why he didn’t have any money in the bank that day.

Here are a couple of examples of where I drove during a couple of the days:

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Permanent Portfolio Update

Update 12/31/2018: (link to permanent portfolio page)

We thought with the last market fluctuations and it is the end of the year, it would be good to do a quick update/comparison with the portfolio compared to the DOW and the S&P. Since the start of this portfolio (August 21, 2015) it has risen just over 80% while the DOW has risen 34.5% and the S&P has risen 23% over the same period.

The portfolio remains strong with an average return of over 26% per year.

 

2018 best cities for vegetarians and vegans

With World Vegan Day coming up on November 1st and research showing that skipping meat can save the average person at least $750 per year, the personal-finance website WalletHub today released its report on 2018’s Best Cities for Vegans & Vegetarians as well as accompanying videos.

In addition to saving money, if you believe that humans are able to change the direction of global warming, the IPCC’s SR15 report just came out and confirmed that going vegan is crucial in that effort. This has been known for years; however, many of my climate alarmist friends continue to eat meat and drink dairy while cursing at the fossil fuel industry. Seems a bit hypocritical. Regardless, even if you don’t live in or near the cities mentioned below, there is no reason 99+% of the U.S. population cannot change over to eating vegan. I did it in 1994 and much to my mother’s surprise, I haven’t keeled over dead from a lack of protein. I would dare say that I am healthier than the average 53-year-old male with a higher level of testosterone and great blood circulation. So go vegan for your health, the planet, and the animals. I am also living proof one can be a libertarian while being a vegan.

To determine the best and cheapest places for following a plant-based diet, WalletHub compared the 100 largest cities across 16 key indicators of vegan- and vegetarian-friendliness. The dataset ranges from the share of restaurants serving meatless options to the cost of groceries for vegetarians to salad shops per capita.

Top 20 Cities for Vegans & Vegetarians
1 New York, NY 11 Washington, DC
2 Portland, OR 12 Tampa, FL
3 Orlando, FL 13 Chicago, IL
4 Seattle, WA 14 Phoenix, AZ
5 San Francisco, CA 15 Miami, FL
6 Los Angeles, CA 16 Atlanta, GA
7 Austin, TX 17 Anaheim, CA
8 Scottsdale, AZ 18 Nashville, TN
9 San Diego, CA 19 Houston, TX
10 Las Vegas, NV 20 Madison, WI

Best vs. Worst

  • Scottsdale, Arizona, has the highest share of restaurants serving vegetarian options, 33.44 percent, which is 16.8 times higher than in Laredo, Texas, the city with the lowest at 1.99 percent.
  • Scottsdale, Arizona, has the highest share of restaurants serving vegan options, 20.23 percent, which is 37.5 times higher than in Newark, New Jersey, the city with the lowest at 0.54 percent.
  • San Francisco has the most community-supported agriculture programs (per square root of the population), 0.0128, which is 18.3 times more than in Houston, the city with the fewest at 0.0007.
  • New York has the most salad shops (per square root of the population), 0.2510, which is 42.5 times more than in Laredo, Texas, the city with the fewest at 0.0059.

 

My personal voting guide — and you too if you wish to follow along

The following is my personal opinion and not that of any organization in which I may have an affiliation.

Being a Libertarian in Palm Beach County affords me the ability to not be pressured by conservatives or liberals / Republicans or Democrats to vote a certain way. In other words, I feel zero obligation to simply go down my ballot and vote for all the Republicans or all the Democrats. And, sadly, this election season, there are no Libertarians for whom to vote. I vote for maximum freedom of the individual regardless of political party, which makes this year one of the hardest since 1983 when I first had the ability to vote, as the bulk of the candidates are anti-freedom — no matter their rhetoric.

So, we’ll start off with some links to a few orgs I tend to like with their voter guides though I do not agree with each and every assessment. It should also be noted, some of the amendments on the ballot should NOT be in the Florida Constitution but should be in Florida Statute. Similarly, this bundling of different issues within one amendment is tragic and should never happen again.

Libertarian Party of Palm Beach County

Libertarian Party of Florida

James Madison Institute

Countywide School Question: I will be voting NO on this effort to quadruple the school tax on Palm Beach County property owners and indirectly to renters. The reason is basic, the school board does not need the money. It has $3 billion at its disposal already and can easily reduce some of its administrative costs to afford the $150 million they say they need. It is awful that teachers are not paid more and students in our county do not feel safe while on school property because of the mismanagement of the school district.

Amendment 1: I will be voting YES even though I struggled with this one because, like the Libertarians have said, it does not address the core problem with property taxes. The only reason I am voting YES is to help reign in government spending which continues to be bloated. If passed, this amendment will save the average Florida homeowner $240 per year on their property taxes.

Amendment 2: Similar in scope is Amendment 2 which I will be voting YES. The reservations I have about it are similar to those of Amendment 1, but it will help property owners who are not protected by the “Save Our Homes” law and will limit the property tax increases for non-homesteaded properties to no more than 10%.

Amendment 3: This may seem counterintuitive for a Libertarian to vote NO on a question of gambling; however, I am voting NO. This amendment is a protectionist sham. While I am in favor of casino gambling and the Florida government has done a miserable job from a free market perspective, any expansion of gambling would require a 60 percent approval from the voters—a difficult threshold to overcome. This is not the answer to an already broken system and would not likely result in an expansion gambling put would likely protect those already in the business from encountering additional competition.

Amendment 4: I have been a long-time supporter of restoring one’s rights after they have served their time. I will be voting YES to automatically restore the rights of those who have completed their obligations to society after committing a criminal offense. I would suggest this amendment does not go far enough; however, it is better than what we have today. The process a felon needs to go through to restore their rights in Florida is horrible and must be corrected or, as with Amendment 4, improved.

Amendment 5: I will absolutely positively be voting YES on this amendment! It is telling how Governor Rick Scott, when he was running for governor stated repeatedly how bloated the state government budget was at the time. Now that he’s been governor it has the largest budget ever! So no matter who is in charge, Democrat or Republican we never have reduced government spending. We need the financial constraints Amendment 5 offers to control government spending. We have plenty of reserves and backup resources so that if something truly disastrous happened, we could weather the storm and the amendment still affords a vote of 2/3 of the legislature to handle extraordinary events.

Amendment 6: This is one of those HORRIBLE bundled amendments where a voter will be strongly in support of one aspect, yet is strongly against another aspect. This amendment bundles three different issues! I will be voting NO even though I agree with part of the amendment, the rest of the amendment, not so much.

Amendment 7: Like Amendment 6, this is a bundled amendment and I will be voting NO. My NO vote is not a vote against first responders!!

Amendment 8: This amendment was removed from the ballot.

Amendment 9: I will be voting NO. Again, this is another bundled amendment, this time dealing with offshore drilling and vaping inside businesses which have nothing to do with one another. I will be voting NO because businesses have a right to decide whether or not to allow vaping (it is none of the government’s business) and we already have laws heavily regulating natural gas production and offshore drilling in the state.

Amendment 10: Yet another bundled amendment which is highly unfortunate as I am forced to vote NO. If enacted, this amendment would cause duplication of bureaucracies between state and federal government agencies which is not needed. The amendment would also eliminate a county’s ability to abolish constitutional offices and make them permanent. This amendment could have easily been four separate amendments, debated on their own criterium.

Amendment 11: I will be voting YES as this amendment removes obsolete language while enabling foreign-born non-citizens to own real estate in Florida. Basically, this will right some wrongs and, hopefully, offer better property rights to Floridians.

Amendment 12: I will be voting NO on this issue even though I have some strong reservations in doing so. While lobbying is rife with abuse in the Florida legislature (and that alone would lead me to a YES vote) it does not trump one’s right to free speech and their ability to earn a living. I do not have the full answer to solving the lobbying problem in Tallahassee and even here in Palm Beach County, I just know Amendment 12 is not the answer.

Amendment 13: I will be voting YES to ban gambling on the racing of dogs. As with a few of the other amendments, I have serious problems with such a thing being in our Florida Constitution, but sadly, this is one of those few moments I could be somewhat accused of being hypocritical. Just like with the “pregnant pigs” amendment and medical marijuana, it is sad we are here putting something like this in our constitution (if it passes). While I am on the side of gamblers and para-mutuals, when it comes to animals, especially when I personally have seen the abuse some of these animals have had to endure, you get little sympathy from me. Gamble on anything you want so long as it is voluntary in nature; I can guarantee you that the bulk of these dogs are not doing it voluntarily.

As for the Justices and Judges, I have no opinion to offer.

Florida Representative District 89: I do not like either of them. Neither is closer than the other to being considered a “freedom-based” candidate. Worst case scenario, I’d go with the underdog Bonfiglio as it is clear to me Caruso will win by a landslide. And who knows, there’s still quite some time between now and election day, perhaps things could turn around.

Florida Representative District 87: I have met both and though I like both candidates, I cannot recommend one over the other. If pushed into a corner, I guess I’d go with LeBeu, the underdog third party candidate as we do agree on a few issues.

Florida Representative District 86: Oh my, just NO on both. If you live in this district, my sympathies are with you. Again, if pushed into a corner, I guess you could with Willhite, who is a good guy, but there is little to like from a Florida legislature standpoint.

Florida Representative District 85: Rick Roth is the clear choice for freedom-loving voters. He’s not perfect, but he is far better than his opponent.

Florida Representative District 82: MaryLynn Magar is the clear choice for North County voters.

Florida State Senator District 30: This is another pointless exercise as Powell will win, but I would be writing in Josh Santos.

Florida State Senator District 25: While not on board 100% with Gayle Harrell, she would have a strong lead in my book over her opponent.

Commissioner of Agriculture: Skip this race, they are both terrible. Actually, that may be an overstatement, but I would not vote for either as their negatives outweigh any positives they have. And they both have positives, it’s just a shame we can’t mesh them both into one candidate.

Chief Financial Officer: Undecided. For me, it’s a tossup between Ring, Petronis and writing in Dembinsky. I likely will not decide until I am in the voting booth, quite frankly.

Florida Attorney General: I will be voting for Jeff Siskind. Moody and Shaw seem to be the opposite of freedom lovers while Siskind is — at least as best one can be as attorney general.

Florida Governor: Another tough race for a Libertarian to decide for whom to vote. Ultimately, I would go with Darcy Richardson. Like most candidates this year, he is not perfect from a Libertarian standpoint but seems to be the closest in the race.

U.S. Congress District 22: Tough choice and this would be another I would have to bow out. I can’t agree with either candidate on the bulk of the issues and certainly would never label either as a freedom-lover, unfortunately. While I have a deep respect for Deutch and he’s a good guy, he’s a no-vote. I could be wrong, but unlike Deutch, Kimaz’s campaign seems to be ego-driven rather than issue driven.

U.S. Congress District 20: Well, this is a no-brainer. First, whether you like him or not, Hastings will win. And for that reason alone, I would write-in Jay Alan Bonner.

U.S. Congress District 18: Brian Mast and Lauren Baer, what an awesome race. It is a shame neither is about freedom. They both want to take away your AR-15 while espousing all other types of government force onto our lives. No thank you, skip it!

U.S. Senator from Florida: Again, similar to above, neither the Republican or the Democrat are very good choices. It pains me to say that I am not able to vote for either the Republican or the Democrat and may have to sit this one out. Scott supports gun control while picking winners and losers with the unprovable strategy of corporate welfare, while Nelson is an empty suit, only showing up around election time. Nelson is another picker of winners and losers. He supports exempting my much-loved premium cigars from federal regulation which I appreciate, but he does so not out of principle which is rather pathetic. This is a link to all the candidates for U.S. Senate in Florida, pick a write-in candidate that seems the least crazy and write their name in correctly on the ballot so it gets counted or sit this one out. This is a sad election season.