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09/06/17 Sharing Economy , Work # , ,

Week of Lyft Doesn’t Offer Hope for Sharing Economy

Week of Lyft Doesn’t Offer Hope for Sharing Economy

I’m a fan of the sharing economy. After a week of riding Lyft, however, I’m not so sure about it — at least for those doing the sharing.

The service was great and I was happy with the cost and speed of the trips I took. But from the standpoint of the drivers and the money they make to push driving for Lyft into a viable job — even part-time work — I don’t see it as a long-term solution to helping people improve their incomes much.

I used Lyft regularly for a week because my car was hit by a hit-and-run driver and it needed to be in the repair shop for a week. My insurance company offered me a rental car or up to $200 in free Lyft rides, with more money for Lyft rides available if I needed it. I work from home so I only needed it to run a few errands, and I only used about $100.

Here are some of the surprising things I learned about Lyft and the sharing economy from drivers, and from a ridesharing expert I interviewed:

Fulltime driving isn’t enough

My first driver was a DJ, about college age, who told me he drives 60 to 80 hours a week for Lyft. He didn’t earn much money, he said, and the driving takes away from his passion of making music.

This led to a college-age discussion about how much money you need, and if working in a job that doesn’t fulfill your passion is worthwhile. His goal was to find ways to turn his musical interests into earning money, and to drive less.

The value of a driver’s time didn’t seem to be computed on many levels by Lyft, though I got differing opinions on the value of driving for Lyft when working 40 hours or more per week.

Bonuses are key

Another driver, a former fulltime taxi driver in San Francisco, told me that working 40+ hours per week only allows him to earn money to live on if he meets Lyft’s bonus goals. The more trips a driver makes, the closer they can get to earning a Lyft bonus. That makes short trips more profitable, he said.

Lyft explains its Power Driver Bonus in detail on its website. It has various requirements, including giving rides at peak times, having a 2011 or later model car, a high acceptance rate and bonus tiers.

For people who driver 40 to 50 hours per week for Lyft, the bonuses are accessible and equate to providing 60 rides per week, says Harry Campbell, owner of The Rideshare Guy, a blog and podcast about ridesharing and a driver for Lyft and Uber. Continue reading

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09/04/17 Debt #

Wear and Tear Important Considerations in Auto Lease

Wear and Tear Important Considerations in Auto Lease

Leasing a car means you don’t own it – you’re renting it for the term of your contract – and at the end of your lease period you must return it to the dealership.

One of the most important terms in your contract states that you must maintain the car so that you return it in a reasonable state. The leasing company will examine the car at handover and if excessive wear and tear is found, you may have to pay surcharges for repairs.

It’d be a real shame if you come to the end of your Mercedes leasing period and you’re all ready to fall in love with your new car, only to find you have to stump up huge fees to sort out the upholstery, some prangs and scratches or dents. One thing you can do is to look through the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) Fair Wear and Tear Guide a few weeks beforehand to see if there’s any need for concern and action.

The most common causes of surcharges

The most common reasons for people getting hit by surcharges at the end of a lease are tears, stains and scorch marks on the upholstery, damaged paintwork, scuffs on the wheel trims and scratches and dents on the bodywork.

What does fair wear and tear mean?

It means the slight deterioration of the chassis, interior and engine caused by everyday driving and usage. It’s not damage, it’s not caused by dangerous driving or neglectful storage, or by driving along with a cigarette in your mouth.

Preparing for handover

If, after reading the BVRLA guide, you think there’s an issue, such as a scratch that’s longer than 2.5cm, for example, then you’ve got time to sort it. You also need to thoroughly clean and dry the car before looking it over, as dust might hide scuffs and smaller scratches. You should wait for a bright, dry day to look at the bodywork, taking photos of dents or scratches as you go.

Even if you’ve driven like a saint for two years and there’s no visible scratches on the outside, you should still have a professional valeting, especially if you’ve been a bit lax with cleaning the interior during your lease period. It’s easy to become desensitised to the smell of dogs and small children.

Repair any damage

Anything that’s beyond fair wear and tear needs to be dealt with – the inspector won’t miss a thing and so you need to do the best you can.

One option is to take the car to a lease return specialist who can look over and valet the car, as well as perform minor repairs. These companies will clean the car to the same standards as the leasing company.

It’s up to you

Of course, if you want to avoid penalties and repair fees when you hand the car back, you need to make sure you look after it from the get-go. Go for regular valeting, watch where you park the car and also where you drive it – salt water is very damaging if it’s not rinsed off – and always drive as safely as possible.

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10/13/15 Debt , Personal Finance # , , , , , ,

Comparison Shopping Not So Popular for Big Ticket Items

Comparison Shopping Not So Popular for Big Ticket Items

Years ago when I was a business desk copy editor at a newspaper, I was amazed at how often the paper wrote about gas price increases and the best places to shop for gas. Long before the GasBuddy app was available, the newspaper put out a regular graphic on where the lowest gas prices were in the area, and regularly interviewed shoppers about comparison shopping for gas.

We didn’t do as much reporting on the changes in milk prices, showing readers where the best prices for a gallon of milk were. Milk and other groceries were regular household expenses, but they didn’t warrant the attention that gas prices did.

Comparison shopping for everyday expenses such as gas is common among American shoppers, but not so big for big ticket items such as buying a new car or taking out a personal loan or mortgage, according to a recent survey by LendingTree.

Shopping for gas, but not auto loan

More than 80 percent of people surveyed said they’d go out of their way to save 10 cents per gallon on gas, but only 17 percent of car owners negotiated the interest rate when financing a new vehicle, the survey found.

More than 67 percent use comparison shopping websites for electronics and airfare, while 14 percent do the same for loans. Continue reading

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08/14/15 Insurance , Saving # , , ,

How I Saved $350 by Finally Shopping for Insurance

How I  Saved $350 by Finally Shopping for Insurance

I’ve been writing about personal finances for years — for this site and others as a freelance writer — and I almost always take my own advice and the advice of experts I’m writing about. But when it comes to shopping for insurance, I’ve gotten lazy.

Almost every other piece of personal finance advice I’ve written about I’ve implemented myself: have an emergency fund, set up a college account for my daughter early, buy value stocks, cooking dinner at home and buying a used car with cash, among other things.

Shopping for insurance is one of the easiest things to do, taking minutes online or a five-minute phone call to an insurance agent. Up until about a month ago, the last time I went shopping for insurance was about a dozen years ago when my wife and I bought a house and needed homeowner’s insurance. Continue reading

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Hi, I'm Aaron Crowe. Welcome to CashSmarter. I'm a personal finance freelance writer who enjoys spending my money wisely and using minimalism to make my money last longer while increasing income.