When Monica Hutchinson started driving for Uber a little over a year ago, it was a means to make extra money, but now it’s becoming harder to break even at the gas pump as prices continue to climb.
Despite the challenges, Hutchinson said she still enjoys driving part-time.
“It all started during the pandemic and I just needed to get out of the house,” Hutchinson, 41, said. “My kids were at home — I have two high schoolers and another home from college — my husband is a barber and he’s at home. My thought was I need to get out of this house.”
At first, Hutchinson said she’d sink every penny she earned as a driver toward her three kids’ college funds.
However, with gas prices soaring to record level highs, saving isn’t always an option; sometimes it’s hard just to break even.
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“When I drive I only put in my gas tank what I make,” Hutchinson said. “But now there’s some days, I’m not even breaking even. Honestly, for me I have to gauge what I’m spending or if it’s worth it for me to drive.”
Prices at the pump reached another record high of $4.40 on Wednesday, according to AAA, shattering the previous record high set in March when prices surged in response to the war Russia waged on Ukraine, and other economic trends.
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For folks like Hutchinson, routine spending is becoming more of burden. While working for Uber, she drives anywhere between 25 to 30 hours a week, and before prices shot up, it’d cost around $60 to fill up Hutchinson’s Ford Explorer. Now it costs around $80 for a full tank.
“I will say with the rising gas prices, I have to make driving worth it,” Hutchinson said. “I can’t just drive just to drive anymore. I have to be really strategic about it.”
Ride share services such as Uber and Lyft typically offer their drivers incentives to save or make more money.
For instance, both companies offered a gas surcharge in March where riders paid an additional cent on the dollar per trip.
Uber added a 55-cent fuel surcharge for 60 days starting March 13 to each of its rides, which means you’d have to make around 10 trips just to take $5 off your gas bill.
“I mean, it was a nice gesture but nice gestures don’t feed my family ,” Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson works for Uber part-time while other drivers, such as Craig Worthy, 38, have worked with Lyft …….