Are You Too Proud To Be Rich? When Uber Drivers Make More Than Most Uber Employees

Elroy, a top Uber referrer

Most people dream about getting rich. Yet, many of those people aren't willing to put in the work. Are you too proud to be rich? I hope not!

Let me share with you some great insights I learned from a visit I had to Uber's corporate office in San Francisco years ago.

I, along with several other drivers met with Uber's marketing and operations team in their offices for being the Bay Area's top referrers.

As a “reward,” they fed us some Delfino's pizza and picked our brains on how we were able to get to the top. Then, they pitched us on their new referral system to potentially make all of us more money.

Top Uber Drivers Are Not Too Proud To Be Rich

Having already partied w/ Travis Kalanick, Uber's billionaire co-founder, at The Foo Fighters concert, I figured I might as well check out the rest of the staff even though I knew this would take a couple hours.

I wanted to know what type of people are able to get jobs at Uber because I certainly couldn't. What does the corporate employee demographic look like and how do their minds think?

Unsurprisingly, the marketing and operations team members were on the younger side. Seven were Caucasian, two were Asian, six were female, and three were male. All were very nice. From what I could tell from their LinkedIn profiles, none of them went to public universities either.

Then there were us top referrers, all minorities, all from public schools, mostly first generation immigrants, and all but one making way more than our Uber corporate counterparts. An interesting contrast!

Driving For Freedom And More Wealth

When I arrived at the Uber lobby, there was a cherub looking fella named Elroy already waiting. He was dressed in a suit sans tie, and an oversized Chicago Bulls hat. As we went around the room introducing ourselves, Elroy told the crowd that he “lives a lean lifestyle.”

He quit his job to pursue his dream of becoming a singer, songwriter, and producer. He drives for Uber to make ends meet. And has developed a killer referral system to help him make even more money.

I love Elroy because I love his enthusiasm. Here he was, sharing with the room how he'd gotten his friends and family to sign up, and how he'd leverage social media to get even more people. He didn't have a large online platform. All Elroy had was the desire to HUSTLE.

Every time someone spoke up, I could tell Elroy's mind was figuring out a way to adopt new strategies from other top referrers.

Anyone Who Isn't Too Proud To Be Rich Can Strike Gold

We've already talked plenty about how almost anybody can make six figures a year working in a number of different industries. Although good grades and good interpersonal skills are a must to get many of these jobs, a lot of folks believe getting rich by getting a good paying job is cheating for some weird reason.

Given the pushback against gaining wealth with a good job, I decided to demonstrate with this site that you can also make money by building something from nothing. All you need is true grit, consistency, and business savvy to make multiple times the median American household income. The dreams of being a millionaire are real.

Latest Uber earnings equate to $347,000 a year
Too proud to make $347,000 a year annualized?

And now with Uber driving, we're near the very bottom of what many would consider to be an avenue where you can make tons of money.

The picture is my latest Uber weekly statement. I haven't been driving much because I've been busy applying to jobs and incubator programs I have little chance of getting. As you can see, I spent a total of one hour online, making three trips, and earning $167.97.

$167.97 an hour equals $347,000 a year for that moment in time. That is a crap load of money to be earning for any job, let alone being a chauffeur. But you might astutely point out that I'm not making $167.97 an hour for 40 hours a week and you would be correct.

I'm earning much more than $167.97 an hour due to my 1X1 consulting business, passive income, and online revenue from multiple different partnerships. I've received too many rejections in my lifetime to be able to depend on any one organization or person.

Believe In Yourself If You Want To Get Rich

So now you're thinking, but you've got this platform Sam to leverage, and I don't. Wah, where's my pumpkin spice latte? Well exactly. Why don't you do the same thing too? It's not rocket science to start a website, put up your code, and start making some referral income.

For the forever skeptical, let me introduce you to another top referrer. He's a retired Filipino man who uses his own money to take out ads in local English and Chinese newspapers. He then accompanies the interested drivers to the Uber inspection center.

Next, he teaches them the ropes, and even goes on a test drive with them to make them feel comfortable! After the 20th ride, both the new driver and the referrer gets a bonus, usually $300 each. How's that for hustle as a 65-year-old retiree making several thousands dollars extra a month?

Then there's another top referrer I spoke to making multiple six-figures. He mentioned he'll clear $200,000 this year from his sub $100,000 day job plus side hustles this year.

Oh, and then there's my buddy from Southern California who is barely 30 and will make over $300,000 this year 90% from Uber and Lyft. The list goes on and on and on about people who figured out a way to maximize their time for financial freedom.

If you're too proud to be rich driving for Uber, making referrals, or doing any unconventional job, you're missing out. I hope you can see from the examples above how every day people use smarts to get way ahead of the curve.

Uber Employee Income Examples

One of the marketing people (not in the meeting) in her late 20s at Uber mentioned she makes about $70,000 a year base plus ~$80,000 in Uber RSUs that vest over four years. In other words, her total package is ~$90,000 a year.

I also talked to a 41-year-old Uber lawyer whom I picked up one evening at 9pm. He said he makes $180,000 base + $580,000 in RSUs vesting over four years based off a ~$51B valuation. $180,000 is low for a 41-year-old lawyer. But, at least the total package is worth $330,000 a year, even though his RSUs are illiquid.

But even $330,000 a year in total compensation doesn't match the potential for just one $167.97/hour Uber revenue stream. Let's ignore Fidelity writing down their private equity investments in Snapchat and Zenefits by 25% and 48%, respectively.

Forget about GIC of Singapore taking a 25% haircut from its Square investment. Let's say Uber's valuation increases to $100B in a couple years from $51B today, making their employee RSUs worth double if they stay long enough.

The collective income and net worth of the Bay Area top referrers in the room is still much, much greater than the collective income and wealth of the Uber employees (trust funds excluded)!

Top Uber Referrers Make More Than Most Startup Employees

Here is the median pay of the top 20 billion+ dollar startups according to Glassdoor. Each Uber top referrer makes more. Notice the median salary at Uber is only $101,600. Valuations are much different in 2022, but you get the idea.

1. Cloudera: $142,240 (Valuation: $4.1 billion)

2. Jawbone: $130,000 ($3.0 billion, but went bust! )

3. Medallia: $121,920 ($1.25 billion)

4. Pinterest: $118,420 ($11.2 billion)

5. Dropbox: $116,840 ($10.35 billion)

6. Airbnb: $116,840 ($25.5 billion)

7. Kabam: $116,840 ($1.02 billion)

8. AppDynamics: $114,218 ($1.0 billion)

9. Credit Karma: $111,760 ($3.5 billion)

10. Okta: $110,000 ($1.2 billion)

11. MongoDB: $109,728 ($1.35 billion)

12. Palantir Technologies:$105,000 ($20 billion)

13. Twilio: $105,000 ($1.03 billion)

14. AppNexus: $104,550 ($1.19 billion)

15. Uber: $101,600 ($51 billion)

16. Eventbrite: $101,600 ($1.06 billion)

17. Zuora: $96,736 ($1.12 billion)

18. Gilt Groupe: $95,000 ($1.15 billion)

19. DocuSign: $85,000 ($3 billion)

20. MediaMath: $80,264 ($1.07 billion)

Related: Is It Better To Be A Freelancer Or Full-Time Employee?

Develop Your Platform To Get Rich

I strongly believe people have been brainwashed into thinking the only way to make a lot of money is to go to college, and then perhaps graduate school, in order to secure a coveted job. It's only just one of the ways! And if people weren't so brainwashed, there would be so much less student debt out there to worry about.

A friend who graduated from a top five business school finally got offered a $120,000 salary + $12,000 a year in options at a couple well-funded startups. This is after she spent two years of her time, $90,000 for tuition, and sacrificed two years of lost wages. Not bad. But not amazing. She'll have to probably work full-time for at least another five years to get back to even.

The irony about we Uber drivers making more than the Uber employees is that none of us would be able to get full-time jobs at Uber or any of these highly coveted startups as we don't fit their mold.

We're either too old, don't have connections, or don't come from the right school. Trust me, everybody in Silicon Valley has very similar backgrounds when you look at their demographic reports.

Related: Who Makes Over One Million A Year?

Hustlers Are Not Too Proud To Be Rich

I'm not too proud to give a couple drunk dudes a ride to the next bar for $15, especially if they are going my way. I have a thirst to understand how this system works.

Plus, I can make some extra hourly dough, write about my experiences, make even more dough online, become a better sharing economy investor, and then get invited to participate in a program that might make me even more dough. With all the dough that's being kneaded, I could bake the biggest damn pie!

The key is to strengthen your brand online and leverage this wonderful internet world.

Which would you rather do?

  1. Make $347,000+ in annualized income with a lot more free time by cobbling together a bunch of robust money making opportunities.
  2. How about make $90,000 doing marketing full-time,
  3. Earn $330,000 as a lawyer working killer hours, or
  4. Make $132,000 after spending two years and lots of money for business school?

It's just silly if you realize there are plenty of people with way less education making so much more.

Related: Bankers, Techies, Doctors: You'll Never Get Rich Working For Someone Else

Don't Be Too Proud To Be Rich

Some of the filthiest jobs make people the most money. There are also plenty of six figure paying jobs that don't require a college degree. Here are some: funeral service managers, union electricians, police officers, dock workers, contractors, farmers, and even sexy bloggers, to name a few.

DO NOT let your race, sex, public school background, language skills, lack of connections, or pride get in the way of making your own fortune. You can run circles around people who think getting a full-time job is the only way to get rich.

The internet has democratized access to capital, education, and opportunity. It's up to you to develop the right money mindset to earn your fortune!

Further Reading

Recommendation For Leaving A Job

If you want to leave a job you no longer enjoy, I recommend you negotiate a severance. If you negotiate a severance like I did back in 2012, you not only get a severance check, but potentially subsidized healthcare, deferred compensation, and worker training.

When you get laid off, you're also eligible for up to roughly 27 weeks of unemployment benefits. Having a financial runway is huge during your transition period.

Conversely, if you quit your job you get nothing. Check out, How To Engineer Your Layoff: Make A Small Fortune By Saying Goodbye.

It's the only book that teaches you how to negotiate a severance. In addition, it was recently updated and expanded thanks to tremendous reader feedback and successful case studies.

Add to Cart

Start Your Own Website, Be Your Own Boss

There's nothing better than starting your own website to own your brand online and earn extra income on the side. Why should LinkedIn, FB, and Twitter pop up when someone Google's your name?

With your own website you can connect with potentially millions of people online, sell a product, sell some else's product, make passive income and find a lot of new consulting and FT work opportunities.

Here's my step-by-step guide on how to start your own site in under 30 minutes just like this one.

For more nuanced personal finance content, join 60,000+ others and sign up for the free Financial Samurai newsletter. Financial Samurai is one of the largest independently-owned personal finance sites that started in 2009. Everything is written based off firsthand experience. 

About The Author

87 thoughts on “Are You Too Proud To Be Rich? When Uber Drivers Make More Than Most Uber Employees”

  1. Leonard yearwood

    I’m driving uber now and googled “uber makes more than me” because my short rides pay less than what uber takes. I found this article. I’ve driven in Los Angeles and now Phoenix and cannot see any way to make $167 a hour from only three rides. That’s unbelievable! And not a honest article from a full time drivers point. I have a 4.89 rating with 781 lifetime trips. Uber takes too much money. Referring more drivers only hurts our overall earnings and is more of a business deal for you than working hard but I’m sure working hard is the last thing you’re trying to do yet you put down people who do not earn enough to be satisfied with their jobs and call them lazy. Obviously you are the lazy ones! That’s why we don’t make enough too many lazy middle men like you. Too proud to be rich? I’m laughing my ass off. I’d work 60 hours a week if I had a way to make $100’000 a year let alone 360k! It’s not around for too many people. You “hustle” because your lazy like most wealthy people. Typical complaint from someone who doesn’t make $1000 a week. I drove uber over 50 hours and made $860 that’s as good as it gets and not easy to do.

    1. You are sk right! It’s now 2020, and just notice new this year, 9 dollar ride I get only 3.74. Uber gets the rest.

  2. Great read, always looking for extra ways to make a buck. I just wanted to share something I’ve been doing recently. I run an office and have noticed that unused toner was piling up in storage. Looked into returning but that was no good. Tried out the site and was impressed. They had quick service and that payout was nice.

  3. I let go of that kind of pride when I moved to the US at age 21. I come from a very “Alpha” society, where status is everything and major and job title you chose says a lot about you. Back in Albania I was studying for Electronics Engineering which was very hard to get into (50 spots for the entire country). Then when I came to the US, along with the cultural shock and adaptation on every area of my life, was also the “struggle” of working in a factory stacking off pallets. My pride was crucified and it hurt for a long time, but it made me humble over time.

    Eventually I wanted to get back to school, not because I wanted that old status back, but not knowing people and the economy, I saw having a degree as a safety net in case I failed at making it big in life. After I had enough of working in factories, and getting over the fear of taking loans(at the time I was making $8-10/h and I was scared of failing college and having to pay back loans), I decided to get back to school.

    I was able to transfer my classes from Albania, and save time and money. I graduated after 2.5 years in school in the US. I didn’t know how I was going to make it, all my plan comprised was getting a good GPA, that would allow me to get an internship or two and later a job. Getting your foot in the door is hard even with a high GPA. My first year of school I quit everything, job, gym, dating, lived like a monk. Didn’t study that much, but I wasn’t very distracted by other activities. With a near 4.0 GPA I was able to get 3 internships with Fidelity, CISCO, and Lincoln Financial, and 7 full time job offers my last semester of school. Eventually I moved to Chicago to work for software company few months ago, and very little debt. I could have been debt free if I hadn’t relaxed a bit with my monk-like life.
    Like you said, knowing people helps, and all those offers came after I had already networked with HR’s and managers. And also, it is true that most of the growth happens when no one is looking at you.

    The down side of all this transition is that I’m still playing catch up with my technical skills and finances. With lots of ups and downs in my life, I’ve come to suspect I might have ADD that is preventing me from being consistent with my efforts in taking on multiple things like starting a business or any other side hustle.
    Having said all that, do you know of any bloggers or successful person that has been able to master their ADD/ADHD and be financially successful? Any resources that go through kind of transformation would be helpful.

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom

  4. Great article. Right in line with “The 4-Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss.

    I wouldn’t say I’m too proud, but I’m too often a hothead on the road. I have also seen the economic change as salaries balance out when the demand is replaced by a surplus. This has happened in tech, and other industries. We will see competition of self-driving cars or shuttle companies willing to ferry multiple passengers at 1/4 the price like we see in foreign countries.

  5. Sam, you are a goddamn inspiration. I’m a 46 year old, with two HS aged kids, and I genuinely *like* people. I took up Uber / Lyft because I got tired of being laid off, downsized, out-sourced, etc, and because I *need* to spend more time doing what I love to do (including being an awesome dad!).

    It took me all of a week on the road before I realized I needed more than hours behind the wheel to make this happen. My research brought me here. Hustle? I’m ready. I spent the late 80’s / early 90’s playing in rock n roll bands in LA, so I know from hustle.

    I lost my groove when I shackled myself to a lazy woman because I craved a traditional family experience. She ran off to join the circus, and I am ready to get it back. Your site is going to be my masterclass for thinking outside the box.

    Thank you! You rock!

  6. Love the post, and I suppose it makes sense to me more than others. I am also a first generation immigrant. My parents barely have a high school diploma which was from a third world country. They did great after all, they barely spoke English at first. But it was that hard work mentality that got them there, and hustling mindset, and the will to put in the work no matter what. They worked for others as employees at first for lower than todays minimum wage, saved everything to start their own businesses, and invest into real estate properties for appreciation value and rental income. I have never believed in the 40 hour work week, if you want to be financially independent, its what you do after your 9-5 that will make you a fortune. I am proud to do what it takes no matter the gig to make money and increase my net worth. Hustling and working 12-18 hours a day has become quite normal for me the past 11 years. Its paid off, and at 31 years old my net worth is quite healthy, not bad for only a high school diploma.

  7. Hey Sam,

    Great to see you’re a fan of a great band (the Fooies) couldn’t help but point that one out there :)!
    Was interested to know if you have any information on Uber in Australia? Not sure how close you are to it although I notice you post about them regularly.. Apparently they’re having difficulties with government regulations

  8. Just like with anything, there are probably more non rich uber drivers/referrer than rich. I’m sure most uber d/r make very little money relatively speaking. The ones that make a lot make things look rosey and contribute to urban legend.

    It’s a fallacy that workers can’t be rich. It just takes more time.

    1. KevinInColorado

      Right but most of those drivers making little money are stuck in their thinking. By switching from just delivering the service to helping the company grow they could promote themselves to a new role and earn a lot more. They just don’t see what’s possible like FS says!

  9. Well, besides the few inconsistencies (much of your income now is leveraged from your time at a coveted financial position*), I think we can all equate the common thread of hard work to the secret of making lots of money. Hard work, to me, both using smarts/effort. Some people like to say you should work smarter, not harder. That is absolutely bullshit and makes no sense to me. It’s going to be “hard work” no matter how you slice or dice it if you want to make it big.

    *I’m not discrediting what you do in anyway, nor how hard you obviously work. Just saying, without landing that coveted position, I doubt this blog would exist. You have credibility based on your 10 yr commitment to that career. No small feat by any means – it’s just that you’re recommending all these ways to make mega bucks, but you took the traditional route (first) yourself. Nothing wrong with that, but context can be helpful at times.

    1. Is there any way I can prove myself? For example, if I consistently make over $100,000 from Uber and other gig economies, will that not show enough hustle?

      Or will I be forever discounted because I worked for 13 years in finance? I’m up for the challenge!

      What about my point in this article how every top referrer makes more than our Uber corporate counterparts, yet don’t work in lucrative jobs, can’t get an Uber corporate job, are all recent immigrants, all minorities, and none went to fancy private schools? Is it not impressive that through their hustles, then make well into the six figures?

      I’d also love to know more about your side hustles and things you are doing to improve your financial position. I’m also looking to learn more from others. Thanks!

      1. Honestly, I think you would of made it to where you are with or without the job. The job was a means to an end. There’s no denying that it’s easier to focus on the hail marys when you have much more cash to work with though. Getting to that position I guess is irrelevant, because you could stop at any moment and you don’t.

        I am personally working on a short term real estate portfolio. The returns, where I’m at, are much higher than long term rentals but it requires a significant amount of time since there are many more varibables.

      2. Kate Robinson

        You’re just full of shit. Maybe you made that much in one year but that was a fluke. Stop treating people like they are stupid.

    2. @Ricky – You totally missed the point that there are top referrers who were able to become hugely successful by networking and thinking outside the box – they didn’t have any particular career experience, stature or online presence. Yet, they became top referrers. Why do you just assume that Sam is only successful because of his past work experience in finance? Success isn’t only tied to one’s career or line of work. There are a lot of other factors and smarts that help people become financially successful. Sure work is work, but people who are doing well and enjoy what they’re doing aren’t crying about how hard it is. I’d also wager that the top referrers are definitely working smarter not harder. They realized that instead of spending x amount of hours in the car, they found ways to make more money by utilizing their knowledge of being an Uber driver to help other people become drivers.

    1. This one?

      “DO NOT let your race, sex, public school background, language skills, lack of connections, or pride get in the way of making your own fortune. You can run circles around people who think getting a full-time job is the only way to get rich. The internet has democratized access to capital, education, and opportunity. It’s up to you to develop the right money mindset to earn your fortune!”

      It so far hasn’t been mentioned or resonated with anyone unfortunately.

      1. KevinInColorado

        “Money mindset” yes! This is what Robert Kiyosaki calls “changing your context”…seeing new things as being possible sometimes changes them from being impossible to possible.

        You can walk around arguing for your personal limitations and your current beliefs all day or you can start listening and asking questions. Then you have a chance of learning something that shifts your whole perspective on money.

        Easy example: I wanted solar panels to eliminate my electric bill and to be more ecological. Expensive upfront right? Nope, a single payment 20 year lease was $3700. Then I got referral fees for bringing in new customers of $4000. Free electricity takes some hustle (and a few tours/open houses to show off the system to friends, neighbors and coworkers) but no real cash!

        PS I did pay income tax on the referral fees so technically I paid a little for the system…just like you have to pay tax on Uber referral fees :)

        1. KevinInColorado

          Oh, I forgot, I’m selling the house in the spring with 15 years left on the prepaid lease. My realtor says 15 years of free electricity adds $10k to my house price. Can’t wait to do this again in the next house!

          Change your perspective, change your reality.

  10. Wow… this post really struck something with the commenters. I also think there are some problems with the presentation but not the premise of what you’re saying, Sam.

    I think the main problem people are having is the difference between entreprenurial type activity vs. wage type activity. It’s true that you can make a heck of a lot more being entreprenurial, but it leaves out a lot of the costs/risks along the way that are priced into the return you get vs. a wage (and a lot of people would prefer the less-risky wage route, even with a degree from a private college).

    The other thing is that when you’re talking about entreprenurial activity, you’re primarily talking about a lot of sales skills. When you’re talking about Uber referrals, you’re essentially selling people on taking the job of being a driver (and maybe also referring others, if they can, but essentially they’d be wage-earners mostly). But 1) there are a limited number of drivers that any economy can support and 2) not everyone has the networking or social skills to do this type of sales work.

    Also, when you talk about $200/hour or $500/hour consulting gigs, not everyone has the right network of contacts to score those kinds of gigs either. (or the training and background that came at a cost as well)

    So, it’s true that the math works out for how much you can earn if you really really want to hustle. However, for most people it’s worth it making less to not have to take the risk or do all of the back-end work developing the networking and contacts. Plus, there is only so much opportunity to go around for any endeavor (Uber referral fees are not going to last long once they have the number of drivers they need), so you are kind of more limited then you’re letting on (that is, the one hour example doesn’t always scale linearly if it’s bound by available opportunity).

    But your larger point that you make your own opportunities and you have to hustle from one to another to keep getting the big bucks is definitely true (just not sure that’s what everyone else took away from this article).

    1. Just realized, only one of the top referrers has a FT job. The rest of us are either 65+ retired, Elroy singing, me blogging, and another blogging.

      I don’t have a FT job partly b/c I can’t get a FT job here in Silicon Valley, and the other reason is because I took the leap to work on my site back in 2012, so I’ve already spent 3.5 years building my income streams.

      NOTHING lasts forever. Not even your job. Nobody should just expect everything to be good times. Those who do don’t save, don’t hustle, and don’t get ahead.

  11. fun in the sun

    The comments section of this post is so entertaining. I wish people would post their net worth along with the comments, as I would strongly assume that those who are too proud to drive for Uber, are probably $100k-per-year-great-school-student-debt-loaded-wage-slaves, still convincing themselves that the brand name of their employer was all worth it.

    Side hustles never start out glamorous. However that is how you can build true wealth. The minorities at the Uber referral meeting, are likely wealthier than half the Corporate VP’s in America. Certainly “I’m an Uber driver” isn’t as impressive to the in-laws, but the money is green all the same.

    1. I’m curious to know the dissenter’s income, net worth, debt, and ages as well. It is FASCINATING to see the different attitudes, and how some people gain motivation, while other people hate and discredit.

      Love it!

  12. Hi great blog, I read it all the time.

    Question- I live in the Jersey City area and don’t own a car. I want to side hustle but I currently work a full time job and I’m concerned that I would have to work very long hours simply to recoup my fixed expenses. Whats your take on renting a car to drive for Uber for a small portion of the day or the week (if I take the week off from work)? Currently weekly prices to rent average in the $300 range, daily in the $50 range. Do you know of people who rent a car for just the weekend or certain days to drive on the side? Are they doing well?

    1. Hi Krishna,

      I wouldn’t lease a car for the soul purpose of trying to make money from your car. But, the only way to be a referrer is to be a driver. So, perhaps you want to lease the car for one month to get your city’s bonus, and code and then stop.

      Now that I think about it, I lease Rhino, my 2015 Honda Fit for $235/month after taxes. But I did so primarily for my own convenience. But then, as a business owner, I can use it for business and write off a portion. And if I want to position myself as a FT Uber driver, then of course, I get to write off all the expenses that pertain to being a FT driver.

      Good luck!

  13. The idea of hustle reminds me of ‘The Millionaire Next Door’. Most millionaires get there by being frugal and working hard. Small business owners, often times first gen immigrants, willing to do whatever it takes to make money.

    My car is too old for Uber but I’ve been curious about how much you can really make. Back in the day my brother used to deliver for KFC. Unfortunately, the amount of wear and tear on his car cost more than he ever made working there. I’d love to see a detailed breakdown of all the additional costs that comes with those additional miles; tires, brakes, fluids, depreciation, lost time to maintenance, etc. I need to see more than proclamations about revenue. Perhaps I need to call myself out for lack of hustle and do it myself!!

    Odd question, can you rent a car from Enterprise and use it as an Uber driver?

    1. Uber has a leasing program. It’s probably not available in all locations but as far as I know it provides cars to people who want to drive but don’t have their own vehicle.

      1. Uber’s “Xchange Leasing” program is designed to help people get access to a car and has an opt-out option after 30 days. Right now looks like they offer it in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, Seattle, Maryland, Virginia, DC, Georgia, Chicago, Dallas, and Houston.

    2. I wouldn’t lease a car to try and make money from your car. But, the only way to be a referrer is to be a driver. So, perhaps you want to lease the car for one month to get your city’s bonus, and code and then stop.

  14. I have a side hustle that’s been consistently growing over the past 5 years. The big problem, however, is that it still only represents less than 25% of what I make with my day job.

    Growing my side gig further would imply quitting my job at this point, taking a 80% income cut in the process.
    This is too risky as I have a family to feed.

    As such, I’m not too “proud” to be rich, it’s just that taking the hustle to the next level would be too big of a leap at this point for me.

    1. May I ask why you need to quit your job to grow your side hustle further?

      I guess I did that, but not after 3 years first and not before the side hustle, this site, generated a livable income stream so I wouldn’t starve on the streets! When I left, I took that 80% paycut! But the severance made the landing soft.

  15. This stroke a chord with me and is interesting timing, as I saw Daymond John speak earlier this week. I think he is just another perfect example of what you’re talking about – resiliency and the willing to put himself out there instead of stay in the pack. It’s experiences like these that help provide me with the perspective that I absolutely need to diversify my own experiences and potential streams of income. I look forward to writing about his talk soon.

    1. Yes, you’ve got to put yourself out there. And when you see someone doing better, LEARN FROM THEM, don’t hate on them like some commenters here.

      My biggest curiosity of going to the meeting was meeting the other top referrers to potentially incorporate what they do.

  16. That’s so awesome you were able to attend that meeting with other top referrers. Uber really is a neat way to earn extra money or even to earn a full time wage. With high demand in big cities like San Francisco and NYC a lot of drivers are making six figures.

    That’s also so true what you wrote about many dirty jobs being quite lucrative and out of the box. I wrote a post about that and the concept: don’t follow your passion, bring it with you for success, There’s nothing to be embarrassed about making money in dirty, unconventional, or blue collar ways.

  17. If only they allowed older cars. Both our cars are an 02 and an 03, so too old for Uber. My main job is only super busy for 2-3 months out of the year, the rest of the time I only spend a few hours a day working.

  18. I call BS. For soo many reasons. To mention only a few.

    * One hour is a vanishingly small sample to use when calculating a year’s wages. And by vanishingly small, I mean statistically meaningless.

    * That $167/hr figure does not factor in expenses. Wear and tear on the car. Gas. Insurance! When you’re on the clock looking for a customer, you’re not covered by your insurance or Uber’s.

    * You’re comparing a contractor’s wages to employee wages. Employees get benefits. Employees get benefits. Employees (sometimes) get stability. Employees get higher salaries as they gain experience. Those all have real dollar values.

    Your overall point is valid, that there is money available for those who are willing to hustle. But there’s no need to make hyperbolic claims based on meaningless and incomplete data.

    1. Why do you think the top referrers and I don’t have meaning? Have you actually done anything entrepreneurial or any side hustle work beyond your programming job? I understand it is very hard to believe or imagine lots of people making a lot of money without the traditional system job so I don’t blame you.

      Would it help if I emailed you one of my income streams? I will if you promise to keep it private. How is it a hyperbolic claim when $347,000 is just the start?

      What are the reasons why you think you have your mindset? I’d love to know your age, background, income, net worth etc to gain more perspective.

      I would also LOVE to get a guest post from you on why you believe you can’t do better or why other people can’t possible make what they make for whatever reason. Thanks!

      1. Sam, you quoted ONE HOUR of work in which you made $167. That does *not* translate to $347,000 annually. I have to assume you know this. This is equivalent to me making 20% on a single-day trade, and then claiming I’m able to make 1.2^365 annually. One hour at $167 is statistically insignificant if you can’t do that all day, every day.

        I’m an engineer. I value precision, and to extrapolate as you have done is very sloppy. This does not mean that a ‘side hustle’ is not valuable, just that you have in no way accounted for its costs. You’ve thrown out a meaningless number, and then tried to compare it to other meaningless numbers and then claimed to reach a meaningful conclusion.

        Yes, I’ve done contracting. Not for uber, but I’ve done plenty of contract programming over the years. Thus I /know/ that when the sun shines it’s easy to assume it’ll keep shining forever. And I /know/ the reality that it doesn’t. On the other hand my day job pays $250K in a low-COL area for 40 hours/week of work. And when I have an unproductive week or have to take a few hours off to see a doctor or take 5 weeks of vacation per year I still get paid.

        You ask my stats, I’m mid-30s, married, with a net worth a little shy of $5M. My wife works too, and is similarly compensated. Does being an old fuddy duddy disqualify me from pointing out hyperbole?

        I’m not arguing with the merits of the ‘side hustle’. There is plenty of money to be made, and advocating for that is a valid point. Of course side hustles can be a permanent profession, and there’s no shame in that. But you have to understand the limitations. Heck, I recently reconnected (briefly) with an old school-mate of mine. He’s a very well compensated professional whose blog and associated income is nearly exceeding the income from his day job.

        1. As an engineer, then you will appreciate this simple math exercise:

          If one hour of a person’s time makes $167 from Uber, 20 hours of corporate consulting are billed at $200/hour, and 19 hours a week are billed at $500/hour for 1×1 consulting for 48 weeks a year, how much does this person make? Now let’s say you want to tone down the corporate consulting hours by 10 and replace them with 11 hours a week of Uber driving + referring. What’s the annualized income now?

          What is this person was able to charge in a similar ratio for 60 hours a week?

          How about this problem:

          Let’s say one person has a website that can make money 24/7 because it isn’t human. And the person who owns the website makes $60 an hour 24/7 all year. How much can this person make?

          I think I need to write a post with a clear chart with examples of how to make various amounts of money after chopping up your desired or potential weekly hours worked/charged.

          Your income is great, and is at my ideal income level for max happiness. Just know that if you ever want to get out of the rat race and be more free, you can if you explore various ways to optimize your income.

          And if you want to add value to the community, I’m sure lots of people would love to learn how you were able to amass $5M so quickly out of college.


          1. Would be happy to talk about how to amass high NW, but unfortunately it’s very boring :)

            Save, save, save.

            1. It can’t be just that right?

              Let’s say you’ve worked 13 years out of college as a 35 year old.

              $5,000,000 / 13 = $384,000 a year in AFTER TAX savings to get there.

              With only a $250,000 GROSS income, even if you started at $250,000 since age 22, it would be impossible to save $384,000 a year. Hence, don’t be selfish. Tell us how you invested your money, and what was the source of such a big savings rate. Even if it was due to an inheritance or your wife’s money, that’s cool too. Because after all, $5M is $5M and we can all learn from that!

              Thanks for showing us the way!

    2. One more reason to call BS:

      * Sam is not counting his time on FS (posts and responding) to market his referral system.

      1. Good reminder to continue being judicious w/ my time in responding to comments! Thanks for your contribution.

        Aren’t you curious how phr3dly got to a $5M net worth with only a $250K/year income by 35?

        There is MORE MONEY out there than people know. FIND THE ANSWER!

    3. Jeez, don’t be so negative man. You’re missing the point of the article and to “call BS” is ridiculous. There really are many Uber drivers making more than most Uber employees. Sure it depends on location. But using like for like (driver location and Uber employee location) in a place like SF as an example, it’s totally feasible for drivers and referrers to make more than $70-90k.

      1. KevinInColorado

        The Millionaire Next Door is probably not wearing Rolex and Gucci and buying a Ferrari but might indulge in one such luxury…so Timex and Keds buying a Ferrari? Sure!

  19. Real questions? Do you want to be an UBER driver for the rest of your life? I believe we are smart people here who wants to make an impact. Not just driving around cars whether how much money you can potentially earn. I believe most people here would want to differentiate from jobs that doesn’t require college degree. If you really want to pursue your career as an UBER driver, I would start judging on other decisions that person would make.

    1. What’s wrong w/ being an Uber drive for the rest of your life? Why is your occupation better than another’s? Your comment is exactly the sentiment I wanted to encapsulate in my survey answers.

      Elroy, in this post quit his job to be a singer, song writer, and producer. The retired Filipino man is RETIRED at 65+, but is making extra income through Uber. Why do you look down on them?

      Tell us what your occupation is and why it’s so great?

      This post is more about side hustling and taking things into your own hands rather than Uber driving or referring.

      1. There is nothing inherently wrong with being an uber driver.

        I’m a programmer. I derive significant satisfaction from seeing a problem, spending hours (sometimes days, or weeks) on it, and finally solving it. It’s a mental challenge.

        This is not to diminish those with other jobs, nor denigrate their careers. But there are those for whom the value of a job is more than the paycheck. If I spend 50 hours/week working, all else equal I’d prefer to spend that time doing something I enjoy more rather than less.

        1. Exactly, which is why we are top refferers, not top drivers. Do you see the difference?

          I definitely wouldn’t want to work FT to make $150,000 a year if I can cobble up multiple passive income streams that requires part time effort and make much more.

          I know so many programmers in the Bay Area who make $120,000 – $250,000 a year who are frustrated because they got the best grades and think they are the smartest people, yet they witness other “less worthy” people rise up or make much more. Grades and a job are only a couple ways to do well. I hope you and others see this point.

          Go Elroy!

      2. Sam,

        This may be the best comment I’ve read on your blog.

        I graduated from THE top public and earned a good salary but left the corporate world to travel for a year and reorient my life because it was soul-crushing. The culture of trading time for material wealth was a hamster wheel I got tired of running on (sales-focused organization).

        Am currently a stay at home dad and you wouldn’t believe the amount of negative feedback I hear from my friends, co-workers, and former managers along the lines of wasted potential, lack of contribution to society, etc.

        My wife is very supportive and we are still on track to FI in 15 years (well before the typical retirement age). Could we cut this time in half if I re-entered the work force? Certainly! Especially now that we’ve learned we can survive on one income while maintaining a 30% savings rate (which will increase in line with her annual salary increases, less inflation). However, our child is still young and I’m having the time of my life watching her grow and aiding in her development.

        To your larger point, when I re-enter the workforce I am certainly not above any job or career path. Your posts on side hustles, thinking out of the box, and pissing off the the naysayers have been inspirational. Keep em coming.

    2. Do you realize how stuck up that sounds? There is nothing wrong with driving for Uber. Who’s to say one type of career is more meaningful or successful than another regardless of how you’re educated. Don’t look down on others just because they have a different career path than yours.

  20. another way to use uber is for cross marketing. I know one uber driver who puts puts catalogs in the back of the car for the jewelry she makes and sells. she’s increased sales dramatically because of this, and now she pays other uber drivers to keep her catalogs in the back of their cars.

    this is genius! when I leave my large law firm to join or start a small plaintiff’s firm, I will start driving uber to help increase brand awareness. much better than putting my face on the side of a bus!

    1. Why not right? I tell almost every single passenger I take to check out Financial Samurai. Who knows. Maybe one will stick and refer FS to someone else? Keep on hustling!

    2. That is really funny. What a great idea. I’m picturing the back of a car with a library of Scentsy, Livi Jewelry, and Girl Scout Cookie order forms.

  21. SavvyFinancialLatina

    $70K base to work at start up in San Francisco? The salary seems to low, especially for the high COL. I thought you would get paid more.

    1. High demand companies like Uber tend to pay much lower on the salary side. The hope is that the equity package is worth much more in the future. The problem is, the private market is correcting right now and the equity is illiquid.

      But don’t cry for the Uber employees just yet. $70,000 is still a livable income stream! Just Google “Uber Salaries” or “Uber Salaries Glassdoor” to see a bigger range. Some marketing managers earn as low as $60,000 base.

      1. Great Points FS! I think the college grads nowadays are getting smart with their money; In SF people have to be creative to handle the housing costs! I like the mentality that you are expressing. We have to be positive and hustle however we can.

  22. Working for Uber means 12h a day 7 days a week. I am one of the top drivers. Gross income 120k but net is less than 50k. So these numbers are the best answer. I am a computer engineer, I got my MBA but no networking, 42 yo and small university degree.

    1. Gg, your numbers make more sense. I know Sam is cheerleading with this article and encouraging others to develop a side hustle, which is great, but his numbers seem to be setting up a lot of false hope, no? I mean, if you can do something for a couple of hours and make $160-something an hour doing it, then great. But it’s not realistic to assume that it’s going to be a steady 40 hours a week of that kind of money. Plus, even discounting for gas, it doesn’t discount for wear and tear or insurance on your vehicle.

      1. I’m sad that you do not have hope. If you do not believe in yourself, nobody else will.

        On the one side of the table were immigrants, where English was a second language making $200,000+ b/c of hustle. I saw with my own eyes how people you would not expect to do well financially are doing very well.

        Again, why do you assume driving is what all these top referrers are doing for 40 hours a week? It’s not.

        Six months ago, I never made $1 from Uber. You’ve been reading FS for more than 6 months and know this right? And now, after a lot of effort driving and writing, I am a Bay Area top referrer. Why do you discredit my effort?

        1. Sam, it’s not that I don’t have hope, and I’m not trying to discredit your effort. I’m sorry if it came across that way. I know that you have an extraordinary amount of hustle, and you’re always looking for the next way to get an edge, and I think that’s absolutely fantastic.

          I only have a problem with the way it seems to be portrayed in this article. It sounds like the message is that you can make a few hundred thousand a year driving for and referring people to Uber, and it just seemed like that was too far a leap to make. Doing what you do is amazing. You’ve built this incredible website with really strong readership, which is undoubtedly what helped you refer so many people to Uber to get into the inner circle. A lot of people aren’t starting from that same position, so of course their battle will be much harder from where they are now. (But everyone’s got to start somewhere, right?)

          But anyway, my sentiments have more to do with Uber than anything. I’ve seen Uber drivers who are running their cars ragged trying to make money. Some of them do okay, but I feel like Uber is preying on a lot of people who aren’t taking into account the wear and tear on their vehicles, and who aren’t reporting to their insurance companies the amount of actual miles are being put on their cars. It seems to me that the economics of driving for Uber are vastly skewed if you don’t take into consideration the average wear and tear on a vehicle. And the insurance thing may seem like no big deal, until the Uber driver gets into an accident off the clock, and the insurance company says “Whoa, you’ve been driving 20,000 miles per year instead of the 12,000 you said you were driving,” and they refuse to cover the damage because you made a material misstatement on your policy application.

          I just think people need to be more cautious about that, that’s all. I’m all for the side hustle, and I do that in addition to my full-time-plus job, also. (Just not driving for Uber.)

          1. But you are missing my point. None of us are top drivers and none of us want to be top drivers. We are top referrers ie working smarter, not harder. But in order to be a referrer, you must first be a driver.

            You are absolutely right that there are costs involved in driving.

            I’ll ask you this question I asked another commenter:

            If one hour of a person’s time makes $167 from Uber, 20 hours of corporate consulting are billed at $200/hour, and 19 hours a week are billed at $500/hour for 1×1 consulting for 48 weeks a year, how much does this person make? Now let’s say you want to tone down the corporate consulting hours by 10 and replace them with 11 hours a week of Uber driving + referring. What’s the annualized income now?

            What is this person was able to charge in a similar ratio for 60 hours a week?

            How about this problem:

            Let’s say one person has a website that can make money 24/7 because it isn’t human. And the person who owns the website makes $60 an hour 24/7 all year. How much can this person make?

            1. I hear what you’re saying. I think the problem that some of us are having is that it looks like you’re just taking your Uber number and multiplying by 40 hours per week. I know that’s not what you’re actually doing, because your reality is much different, as you set forth in your hypothetical about consulting.

              The way most of us would phrase it is that you’re making most of your money consulting, and supplementing your income a bit by recruiting Uber drivers. I.e., Uber is PART OF a balanced breakfast, and if you combine it with other sources of nutrition, you could earn a really great income. Not: Uber is something that you can do 40 hours per week to earn $300-some-thousand a year in income. If some of the Uber driver/recruiters ARE achieving that income by working 40 hours per week recruiting drivers, then that would be really interesting, and I’d be interested to hear their stories.

              But going back to your hypothetical question: if you cut back your consulting hours and put 11 hours into Uber instead, do you think you’d be making effectively the same hourly rate? Or would the principle of diminishing returns cut it back to something much less on an hourly basis? I’m not asking to be argumentative, I’m asking because I think it would be an interesting experiment (and maybe a good blog post, too).

              Like I said before, I think side hustles are great, and I think setting up several income streams, even if they’re small, can combine to become a mighty river of income. I think that’s your main point, too.

              1. Will it take me making $300,000 a year from Uber for folks to believe my point? If so, I will do it, but then, my income will be out of control and I won’t be happy because I’m optimizing for time now that I’ve surpassed my income goal. Just check out my buddy’s site: He is crushing it and Uber/lyft are his main sources of income.

                If I replaced my income through driving, I would probably make easier money and more because I’ll end up writing even more about my experiences and letting income generate passively. But I don’t want this site just to be about Uber. I’ve got so many other topics to write about!

      2. Nothing is guaranteed in life even fulltime white colar jobs. I know several people working office jobs with six figure salaries who got fired in less than six months.

        Sam’s point is valid on having hope, thinking positively and finding ways to hustle while you can. There’s also a difference between only driving for Uber versus driving and referring or just referring. The people Sam met that he’s talking about above make most of their money in referrals not driving. They have some fantastic business smarts if you ask me.

        1. KevinInColorado

          And if you lose a six figure office job there’s no guarantee you’ll find another just as lucrative. Side hustles, aggressive financial management, living well below your cash flow…all of this is the smarter path.

          1. So true. I lost a $120k job and haven’t been able to find full-time work in a year. Fortunately I’m still able to get by paying all my bills because I have saved over the years and have diversified my income streams to include side jobs like painting, dog walking, fixing people’s computers and working as a courier. If Uber expands their leasing program to the NY area I’ll be looking into that too. I think it’s sweet people are able to make a solid income stream through Uber by driving and/or referring. Good for them!

  23. The $168 an hour is not net to the driver correct? So then even at 40 hours a week the driver would be making a lot less than 350k a year.

      1. You get that how!!

        Driving one hour. I made more than that during snow storm 400$ net (before lease and gas)

        New year 2015 750$ in 45 min. Surge 5.5 philly to wilmington.

        But it is not always like this. Peak time is max 10h per week making 60$/hour gross. Then slow days, slow weeks, slow months

        120k a year gros means 50k net. And i am one of top drivers.

        1. But are you a top Philly/Wilmington referrer? The people who were invited to Uber’s office were all top referrers, not top drivers. We are all working on other businesses or hobbies.

          Our goal is to NOT be a top driver.

          1. Thanks for clarifying, Sam.

            When most people see Uber they think driving. They point your making isn’t about the driving, it’s about the attitude – finding the way to leverage what you know to make money by working smarter, not just harder. Driving is the simple, least effort. Working the referrals is the way to the big money, at least in this situation.

            In any situation, always invest the time in thinking how you can improve your revenue while reducing your effort to free up time for other opportunities.

  24. It’s amazing that this type of income can be generated! I’m not too proud to work hard, and, as lucrative as this is, inspires me to start looking for this and other income streams (just as you’ve been writing). It’s hard to argue with actual numbers. Thanks again!

    1. There is more money out there than we know. I’m always inspired to meet people finding ways to blow past the median through different techniques. Going to school and getting a job is not the only way.

  25. I know people who are willing to live on welfare than take a job (that pays a bit more), just because they can still make ends meet like this.

    I have no problems with doing ANY job, unless it’s illegal or harmful to me, as long as it pays the bills. I worked as a radio DJ, I am now freelancing from home as a web designer / blogger, who knows what I’ll be doing in the future.

    Yeah, even driving for Uber, if this would be a solution (at the moment baby is still young and I want to stay at home with her). but, in few years, who knows …

    1. You won’t believe how many people here are too proud too work any job to make money or make ends meet. I talked to one person with $50,000 in student debt and asked her why she doesn’t go work at In N Out burger while she finds her ideal job. She said, “I didn’t go to college for that.”

      And so, she asks her parents for money and bums around her working friends apartments for free.

      Why be so proud to work? And why be so proud to not make potentially a ton more money than the median household income if you can find ways to leverage your position?

      Someone help me understand!

      Related: Do People Really Only Work 40 Hours Or Less And Complain Why They Can’t Get Ahead?

      1. Thanks for another great article Sam. I have been reading and digesting for about a month now. Great stuff and I’ve already started to reform my ways. What a sobering experience this has been to see how far behind I am at 43yrs old.
        For me…I have too much pride to couch surf for free from friends and bum money from my parents. I would much rather work hard and take pride in my effort than take handouts.

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