I love the freedom of being an independent contractor. I love being able to pick and choose the times I deliver for Ubereats, Grubhub, Doordash and Postmates. Read enough of this site and you can probably tell, I love being my own boss.
Having said that, one thing about not being an employee really bites at times: No paid time off.
We don’t get vacation. We don’t get holiday pay. We don’t get sick days. That’s part of why you’ll hear people calling this a grind. If you’re not out there working, you’re not making money.
There’s no boss giving us vacation time.
Or is there?
Who’s the Boss, Anyway?
What’s the tag line on this site? You’re the boss. YOU ARE THE BOSS!!!
If you’re not getting paid time off, whose fault is that? The Boss!
I published a post a few days ago about how important it is to understand your why in doing delivery work, and how that sense of purpose can keep us going. Another key to longevity, especially as a full time driver, is to make it so it’s not a grind. In any profession, a key to avoiding burnout is taking time away.
But how can you do that when none of these companies are giving us any vacation pay?
It’s not their job to give you vacation pay. It’s not their job to give you sick pay.
It’s your boss’s job.
That means it’s your job.
Remember that you are running a business here
Why is it so important to remember you’re running a business? Because the money that is coming in isn’t your pay. It’s your revenue.
I worked for years in a family telecom business. We would sell telephone systems for tens of thousands of dollars. But we weren’t taking home tens of thousands of dollars. We had to pay for the equipment. We had to pay for the rent for our office, for utilities, for sales taxes, all of that. If we took all that money home before taking care of all those things, we’d be in trouble. And so even though it was a family business, we gave ourselves paychecks as employees of the business rather than just taking the money home.
And see, that’s the mindset you have to take here. The money you make from any of these platforms isn’t your pay. That’s your sales, that’s your revenue as a business. Your pay is what you get from your business after all the costs of the business are taken care of.
Part of operating a successful and sustainable business is taking care of the employee of your business. (In other words, taking care of yourself).
Being a good boss to your employee
If you want to keep your employee around for awhile, as the boss you have to take good care of that employee. One thing about that is making sure you are giving them a break when they need it, and making sure they can afford to take that time off.
That means giving them paid time off.
I’m pretty sure you are following, but just to make sure: That means making sure you are giving YOURSELF paid time off.
How do you do that?
Budget PTO (paid time off) for your employee
In other words, before you pay your employee (yourself), set aside money for vacation time or sick days.
One of the best ways of taking care of your employee is to give him or her a paycheck. Here’s how you do it:
- Use a bank that offers the ability to have multiple savings accounts.
- Get your direct deposit payments from your customers (meaning Grubhub, Ubereats, etc.) deposited to a SAVINGS account. This is important, it needs to be an account THAT IS NOT ATTACHED TO CHECKS OR A DEBIT CARD.
- When you receive your payments (I always do this after my last payment for the week comes in), move money to savings accounts for your expenses. I have three expense savings accounts: Vehicle, Taxes, and PTO (paid time off).
- Only after moving those funds to the proper savings area is when you give yourself a paycheck: The money that’s left after you do these things is what you move to your checking account.
When you do this every week, you build up the funds you need to replace the money you are not making when you need a sick day or when you want to take a vacation. You gave yourself paid time off. (You also have made sure that you have what you need for future car expenses and your taxes, but those are for another post).
How do you know how much to take out for PTO?
You have to ask yourself two questions:
- What do I need for take home pay per week?
- How much paid time off am I giving myself per year?
Say you determine that you need $500 per week after all your taxes and expenses are taken out. You decide you want to give yourself about 3 weeks paid time off (2 weeks vacation and a week’s worth of sick days).
So if you want 3 weeks off at $500 a week, you need to provide for yourself $1,500 a year in paid time off. If you take 3 weeks off, you have 49 weeks to save that up. If you save $31 every week for those 49 weeks, you have saved $1,519.
Paying yourself vacation pay and taking the pressure off
Not long after I started doing full time deliveries, my wife and I took a three day weekend out of town. I was stressed, because weekends are prime earning time. I worked a lot of extra hours the days before and the days after to make up for lost time, and nearly burnt myself out.
That’s when I started saving up for paid time off. It was amazing the difference when we took time off later, because I could replace the income that I wasn’t earning from driving.
When you are taking time off, you simply move money from your PTO account to checking. I’ve found that sometimes I’m not moving the full amount over, or for a single day that I miss, I don’t need to pull the money over. That gives me more freedom in the future.
Obviously your take home needs might be more or less than the $500 we used in the example above. In this example though, a week of paid vacation was only costing someone $10 a week. Essentially that’s one or two deliveries in a week. That’s not a high price to pay to treat your employee like any decent boss would.
Be a good boss. Give yourself the paid time off you need.