How to Generate Income (and Help Others) During the Coronavirus Crisis
March 26, 2020
In my book, Income for Life, I wrote about dozens of strategies that are focused on maximizing income from varied investments.
There are plenty of chapters that explain, step by step, how to make your investment portfolio generate a lot more income, including tax-advantaged and tax-free income.
But there are also numerous chapters on income-generating ideas that have nothing to do with the investment markets—again with complete step-by-step directions that anyone can follow for more income regardless of age or experience.
In particular, I wrote about one idea that is a major solution for millions of folks that are stuck at home in quarantine or just sheltering in place during the coronavirus crisis, especially older folks or those with pre-existing health conditions.
These folks need groceries and household goods. And if you are healthy, younger and take the necessary precautions to make sure you are not spreading the virus to anyone, you can now earn a great deal of additional income while helping others around the nation.
Grocery Shop for Income
Before the current mess, if I said that you can get paid to shop for groceries, I suspect your first thought would have been that I was trying to sell you on some complicated coupon deal.
Don’t get me wrong. With a lot of effort, coupon fiends can stack up some serious cash. But not this much cash. And with much less effort.
Here’s the thing… With the lockdown, people in various areas—especially in urban areas—are in need.
The elderly and the workaholics need other people to do their “stuff” for them—to take care of their kids, to walk and feed their pets, to mow their lawn and weed their gardens, to clean their houses, and to drive them to and from work and to the airport.
After all, time is money, and every hour spent driving is an hour not working.
They even need other people to shop for their groceries. Frankly, I don’t blame them, as most folks dread going to the grocery store and dealing with crowds, long lines and the rest of it. And that’s where my income-boosting idea comes in.
Just as Lyft and Uber efficiently connect drivers with passengers, Shipt and other delivery services connect shoppers with people whose cupboards are bare.
Yes, “there’s an app for that.”
And with it a savvy group of folks have discovered a hidden way to “cash in” while buying items like milk, cereal and coffee.
How It Works
Each day, these folks—one of them can be you—set their availability by hour. If you prefer to work between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. as if you still punched a clock, that’s fine. If you want to work one hour a day, when other people are headed to bed, that’s fine, too. Your hours are up to you.
The app then sends you order requests within that time frame, which you can choose to accept or pass. Once you accept an order, you get a grocery list, an estimated shopping time and a designated store based on the customer’s location.
After filling your cart, you hit the checkout line and pay with the provided Shipt or Instacart card. You usually take a photo of the receipt and upload it for confirmation, and then make the delivery.
Instacart.com provides two unique possibilities for earning extra income outside of your regular day job or retirement income. If you have a car to make deliveries, you can be a full-service shopper, which includes both shopping and delivery of groceries.
If delivering is not an option, there is a part-time option as an “inside-store shopper,” pulling groceries from the shelves for users to pick up. Part-time shoppers are paid an hourly rate.
Some grocery store chains have their own dedicated shoppers for online pickup and delivery orders, but Shipt and Instacart are the only services that allow people to set their own hours, similar to the “sharing economy” lifestyle made popular by Airbnb and Uber.
Shipt.com, like Instacart, is a membership-based service, but it does not currently offer a part-time non-delivery option. However, their website boasts a possible $22 hourly rate, based on the completion of 30 orders or more in a shift.
Both services are available at various stores, so it is possible there could be orders from different customers that would take you to Kroger, Target or Fresh Market, to name a few.
Customer orders are offered to shoppers via the app and show the potential payout, though the efficiency of orders could depend on your familiarity with the stores. Both services estimate that shopping trips usually take about an hour.
Shipt also provides exclusive events for their shoppers to meet other employees and snag free swag. Shoppers for Shipt also get a free membership for the service themselves, which is an added bonus.
Both services require that you create an account and submit the necessary tax paperwork. For shoppers who are looking to deliver, this would be the standard W-9. As such, you can also claim expenses for your vehicle, including mileage and maintenance.
Instacart encourages people who are already part-time drivers for Lyft, Uber, DoorDash or some other delivery service to add grocery shopping to their portfolio.
Payment comes via direct deposit weekly and can include tips as well as the hourly rate for part-time shoppers and the commission for full-service shoppers.
Shoppers must have a modern smartphone and the ability to use the service’s app effectively. Shoppers must also be able to lift 30 to 40 pounds without assistance.
For delivery purposes, a reliable car is another requirement. Shipt specifies that your vehicle must be a 1997 model or newer and that shoppers supply their own insulated bags for picking out cold foods in the store. To make things easier, they have a complete branded online shop for shopping accessories.
Hours are flexible, but demand for shoppers can depend on the saturation of shoppers in the area in addition to the time of day or day of the week. However, both Shipt and Instacart are always accepting applications.
One former schoolteacher—profiled in a recent news article—manages to rake in more than $100,000 per year shopping for and delivering groceries. And he doesn’t work crazy hours doing it.
Getting to six figures, he says, was simply a matter of figuring out how the system works—that is, piling up more than one order per trip to the grocery store and acquiring a list of loyal customers.
While in your retirement years you may not want to get that in-depth, even $50,000… or $25,000… a year would be a nice “supermarket sweep.”
All My Best,
Editor, Income Investor’s Digest & Profitable Investing
Author, Income for Life
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