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How Much Can You Make as an Instacart Shopper?


Virtually everyone would agree that the economy has seen better days. That can make paying for basic expenses more difficult than it has been in years. As a direct result, many individuals find themselves looking for ways to boost their income. This is either by starting a side business or taking on a second job. One thing that you might want to consider is working for Instacart. Typically, this is gig work, something that allows you to have more flexibility over your scheduling than traditional part-time jobs. In reality, there are two separate ways you can work for Instacart. That fact alone gives you some degree of flexibility. The question is, how does it all work? More importantly, what can you realistically make in a week and is it all worth it?

Are You an Employee or an Independent Contractor?

With Instacart, it's possible to be both, depending on which side of this particular business you decide to enter into employment with. If you work exclusively in the store, fulfilling orders for customers, then you are considered a part-time employee and you will be regarded and taxed as such. Individuals who choose to both shop in order to fulfill these orders and then deliver them are independent contractors. What's the difference? Part-time employees pay taxes differently than independent contractors. This is because the employer (in this case, Instacart) takes a certain amount of money in taxes. Finally, this reduces the taxes that you pay at the end of the year.

Independent Contractors

When you're an independent contractor, taxes are not taken out on a weekly basis. That means that when tax time comes, you are solely responsible for paying the lot of them. In addition, independent contractors are often taxed at a much higher rate than part-time or full-time employees. A part-time employee may be taxed roughly 10%, but that rate can be as high as 35% for someone who is considered an independent contractor. By now, you're probably thinking that you would have to be crazy to enter into any type of employment agreement where you're an independent contractor, given the fact that you are taxed at more than three times the typical rate of an employee and you have to pay all of your taxes yourself, without the help of any type of reimbursement from your employer.

It's true that this part of things can be frustrating, but you probably shouldn't write off the idea of becoming an independent contractor just yet. The truth is, it offers a great deal of flexibility when it comes to scheduling and puts you directly in the driver's seat when it comes to what you want to do with your professional life. In short, you have more control over what you want to do with regard to scheduling, the number of hours worked and whether or not you want to incorporate this particular gig in with other types of work.  Those options aren't always available when you're a part-time employee because you have to follow a set schedule. Even with Instacart, those who enter into an employment agreement as a part-time employee must follow certain schedules. You have some freedom, but not quite as much as those who are independent contractors.

What Does Instacart Require of You to Work for Them?

Obviously, working for Instacart can be a great idea when it comes to making extra money. However, in order to know what you're truly getting into, it's important to break it all down. Just like most types of jobs, this isn't a job that is for everyone. It's relatively straightforward and easy to do, but that doesn't necessarily mean that everybody is thrilled with the prospect of walking around the store all day. If it does sound appealing to you, there are a number of things that can make it one of the better decisions you've made when it comes to finding effective ways to earn consistent money. Instacart isn't likely to make you rich, but it can certainly help give you some pocket money and it might even help cover some bills.

Working In Store

Provided that you're working as a part-time employee, you'll be working in stores only, not driving the orders to the customers. This is great for someone who doesn't particularly like the idea of driving or who doesn't own a car. As previously mentioned, you'll be considered a part-time employee. You can go on the Instacart app and set your own schedule, but you have to work within the confines of the schedules that are available. That means that there will inevitably be days or portions of the day where it would be convenient for you to work, yet there aren't any slots available. In other words, you won't always get to work when you want to.

It also means that in order to make enough money to cover your expenses for the week, you'll likely have to pick up shifts at other times; it might not be as convenient. If you work for the company in this capacity, you're limited to 29 hours a week that you can work. You don't have to work that many hours, but you're not allowed to work more than that. Again, the benefits of working with the company in this manner are that you don't have to worry about paying as much in taxes, so you end up getting to keep more of the money that you've made.

Working as an Independent Contractor

As you might have guessed, working as an independent contractor is a little bit different. First and foremost, there are more steps added to this position and there is more responsibility because you're not only picking the orders up in the store, but also delivering them directly to the customer. That means that you'll have to learn how to manage your time and how to navigate streets in your area. It also means that you'll have to have a driver's license and a reliable automobile that has insurance and is properly registered.

However, there is more flexibility here because you have total control over the number of runs that you take on a weekly basis. This means you can work as much or as little as you decide. In reality, that means that you can actually earn more money, despite the fact that you pay more in taxes at the end of the year. That's largely because you're not limited to working only 29 hours a week. It also means there's a chance to make more money than those who work as in-store shoppers. This is because the company sometimes provides bonuses for individuals who deliver orders to customers.

Is it Worth it?

That's not always the case, but on average those who do the in-store shopping and then deliver the items to customers tend to make more money than those who do only the in-store portion of the job. It's sort of like the trade-off for the effort of getting out in the weather to deliver these orders. In-store shoppers have more convenience because they don't have to run all over town, but they also don't have quite as much flexibility. You also have the opportunity to make more money if you're willing to go the extra mile, so to speak.

How Much Can You Actually Make?

If you're like most people, you want to know exactly how much you can actually make doing this particular job. That's more than understandable. The truth is, people make vastly different amounts of money with Instacart. People that treat this like a business and hustle several days a week can make as much as $1,000 a week. For others it's more realistic to think about making anywhere from 200 to $400 a week.

If you go to the Instacart app, they will tell you that it's possible for you to make up to $25 an hour. Keep in mind, this is for the highest paid individuals in the largest, most expensive cities in the country. Think New York or LA. That does not mean that the person who does this in a small town is going to make $25 an hour. You would be hard-pressed to do so. Even if you learn how to strategize in order to take the maximum number of runs available. It'ss impossible to say that you can only make so much per hour. However, the average that most people tend to make is roughly $13 per hour.

Actual Income Opportunities

That's not the best, but it could be a lot worse, especially when you consider the fact that a lot of fast food jobs are still trying to get people to work for less than $10 an hour in some places. How much can you realistically make in a week? In order to figure that out, you have to break it down. Based on $13 per hour, you have to work 10 hours to make $130. If you decide to go the route of an in-store shopper and work the maximum of 29 hours a week, you'll be making $377. For most people, that's about as realistic as it gets. If you're looking to bring in an extra $200 a week or so, this can be a good option. However, if you want more than that, do it full time and treat it just like it's a business. Otherwise, you may end up spinning your wheels.

Can You Make More?

Some people that live in particularly busy neighborhoods where there is an abundance of work. Those particular individuals are reportedly making a little more than $40 per hour for their efforts. Exactly how are they accomplishing this? Again, it all comes down to treating it like a business. They usually both shop and deliver orders and they have their delivery area down to an art form.

They know exactly where they're going so they strategically schedule everything ahead of time. This is in order to spend the least amount of time and gasoline delivering orders. This allows them to deliver multiple orders at one time in the most efficient manner possible. Furthermore, this increases their chances of making more money per hour. Many of these individuals also receive tips, of which they get to keep 100%.  It's worth noting that Instacart pays weekly, something that a lot of other businesses don't do. As a matter of fact, you get paid via Swipe every Wednesday. For those individuals who can't use that particular app for one reason or another or who don't have a bank account, Instacart will mail a check.

In Conclusion

In short, you can make a respectable amount of money working for the company. It all comes down to the amount of effort that you want to put into doing so. If all you're looking for is a few extra dollars for spending money every week, do this. However, you can also turn it into something that is truly lucrative in lieu of working for someone else. Or, you can use it as a second job that helps pay the bills and support your family. If you're willing to put in the time and the effort you can make it work, it will.

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Dana Hanson

Written by Dana Hanson

Dana has extensive professional writing experience including technical and report writing, informational articles, persuasive articles, contrast and comparison, grant applications, and advertisement. She also enjoys creative writing, content writing on nearly any topic (particularly business and lifestyle), because as a lifelong learner, she loves to do research and possess a high skill level in this area. Her academic degrees include AA social Sci/BA English/MEd Adult Ed & Community & Human Resource Development and ABD in PhD studies in Indust & Org Psychology.

Read more posts by Dana Hanson

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