For many, running a car is an essential - but that definitely doesn't mean that it's cheap. Between maintenance, petrol, insurance, and registration - you can find yourself overloaded with the baggage of expenses (as opposed to, you know, cruising the highway of financial security with the wind in your hair). In fact, according to a 2018 study by RACQ, a typical Australian driver of a medium-sized car will shell out $202 a week in operation and maintenance costs. That's a fair chunk of change, no matter how you look at it.
But what if you could offset that cost with the vehicle itself? New businesses and start-ups are constantly emerging that promise to help you earn extra cash with little investment on your behalf. If you've been hearing about the 'gig economy' for years, and you're keen to dip a toe (or tyre) into the waters - here are few options worth considering.
Rent your car out when you're not using it
You've most likely invested a substantial amount of money into your car but, even if you're commuting every day, there are long stretches of time when it's going to be sitting idle. If you pay for a parking spot, that means that you're paying for a place to place to leave your car that's already costing you money. It's madness. Surely there's a better way? Well, new car-share platforms promise to allow you to turn this downtime into extra income.
Services like Car Next Door allow you to connect directly with consumers who want to rent out your ride. To qualify, you must have had held an unrestricted licence for at least two years and have a car less than 12 years old with under 200,000 kilometres on the odometer. If you meet these requirements, you can register your car for hire at the times that suit you. That means you could be earning passive income while you're at work, on holidays, or otherwise out living your life. Think of it as Airbnb for your car.
Become a flexible independent courier
If you'd prefer not to have others driving your car, why not complete deliveries for a little extra cash? Services like Airtasker allow you to become a courier on your own terms (and schedule). Individuals can list jobs at a price they determine, which you can use as a basis to make a bid. If you own a van or ute, you're probably already used to friends and acquaintances hitting you up to help them move. This is basically that, except you get paid. Even if you've got a compact car, there's plenty of people without wheels who are willing to pay for your help picking up and dropping off documents and small items. According to Airtasker, top-performing individuals can make up to $5,000 a month using their platform.
Deliver food in your downtime
If you're free in the evenings and on weekends, registering your car with a food delivery service is a good way to earn a little extra income. There are a number of such services operating locally in Australia - UberEATS, Deliveroo, and Menulog among them - that will enable you to earn cash for food deliveries.
Each service has different requirements when it comes to car eligibility and driver pay rates, so make sure that you double-check the fine print before signing on. Of course, the beauty of these gigs is that you're an independent contractor - so there's nothing to stop you from trialing multiple platforms until you find the one that works best for you.
Become a driving instructor
This option takes a little bit more commitment than some of the others, but if you're someone who's passionate about driving - why not get paid to share that enthusiasm with others? The process of becoming a certified instructor differs depending on which state or territory you're in. For example, Victorians need to complete a Certificate IV level course in Transport and Logistics Road Transport (Car Driving Instruction), whereas Western and Southern Australians are only required to pass a theory test and background check. Once you're qualified, you can set your own hours and take on as much (or as little work) as you'd like.
Sell advertising space on your car
In terms of passive income, this is a great option for earning extra money. Multiple Australian businesses like OpenAds, Wrappli, and Carvertise will on-sell advertising space on your car to third parties. The advertising is most commonly applied as a vinyl wrap and drivers are paid via monthly direct deposits - with rates dependent on placement and your motoring habits. The best part about this option is that you're getting paid for time that you already spend on the road, no additional commitments needed. Plus, the ads are placed on the exterior of your car - so you don't see them while you drive.