Sharing Economy Uber, Lyft & Airbnb Workers Aren’t Making Fortunes

The sharing economy continues to provide ways for Americans to save and earn money, but most are using shared services as customers, not to earn income notes a new report.

The latest COUNTRY Financial Security Index revealed that over half of Americans (54 percent) are using some type of streaming, ride-hailing, home sharing or maintenance service often. Of Americans using these services, more than half (59 percent) are using them at least once a week and one quarter (25 percent) are using them every single day.

When it comes to spending, three-in-four (72 percent) are spending less than $50 a month on things like Uber rides, Netflix and Airbnb. However, only a handful of Americans (3 percent) are actually using these services to earn money despite the fact that nearly half (42 percent) rank their financial security as fair or poor.

“It is clear that the sharing economy has profoundly impacted Americans and their consumption habits, however, few are leveraging the rise and popularity of these services to improve their finances,” says Doyle Williams, an executive vice president at COUNTRY Financial. “Similar to a part time job, services like Uber, Lyft and Airbnb can be a great way to pay down debt and build up retirement accounts, but marginal expenses associated with sharing can add up fast. Take Simple Steps to evaluate your budget and insurance plans to make sure you are covered and have the financial resources to get a substantial return on your investment and time.”

Earning Money from the Sharing Economy

The COUNTRY Financial survey revealed that of those using services to earn money, the more (2 in 5 respondents) are using ride-hailing – Uber and Lyft – followed by home sharing – Airbnb – (1 in 5) and home maintenance – TaskRabbit – (1 in 7).

Americans who are using services like Uber, Lyft and Airbnb to earn money tend to earn between $501$1,000 a month. They are also using this income to primarily pay down debt and afford every day expenses (1 in 5); however, nearly 1 in 4 (1 in 5) would instead like to drop that money into a retirement or savings account.

“Individuals who are considering earning income through the sharing economy should keep their goals in mind, whether it’s paying down debt, saving for retirement or just paying the bills. Working in the sharing economy can mean drastic shifts in income, so creating a budget is vital,” said Williams.

Understanding Coverage, Insurance & Risks

Of Americans who are using services like Uber and Lyft to earn money, more than half (3 in 5) have not purchased insurance to cover themselves or their customers. In fact, more than a third (nearly 2 in 5) don’t think they will be completely covered by their insurance in the event of an accident or incident.

“Be sure to get a clear understanding of the marginal costs associated with these services,” continued Williams. “Research the maintenance costs for your property or car, the taxes that have to be paid and most importantly, talk with your insurance representative about proper insurance coverages to protect you and your customers.”

Streaming Services & Online Shopping Among Top Accounts Being Shared

When it comes to sharing, TV is king. In fact, streaming services like Netflix and Hulu are the most commonly used (47 percent) by Americans.

Nearly three in four Americans (74 percent) who are using TV services like Netflix and Hulu are sharing their accounts with others, while four-in ten (42 percent) are sharing mobile plans and shopping accounts (41 percent) like Amazon Prime and Costco. Women are also more likely than men to use services like Netflix on a daily basis (14 percent vs. 9 percent).

Interestingly, more than one-third (36 percent) of Americans who share their accounts, log-ins and passwords are not sharing the monthly costs with others. Some (14 percent) are even unsure of how much they are spending on shared services altogether or if their accounts are being shared with someone else (6 percent).

Those who are lucky enough to gain access to these accounts include family (73 percent), significant others (34 percent), friends (10 percent) and ex-significant others (2 percent). In fact, women are more likely than men to share their accounts with family (79 percent vs. 66 percent), while men are more likely to share with an ex-significant other (3 percent vs. 0 percent)!